Let me set the stage for you. Ryun and I live in Los Angeles. We have no family out here and very few close friends. Therefore we don’t get a lot of help with our kiddos. Money isn’t plentiful, but it’s enough. Date night happens almost never. We have doubled the size of our children this year and some weeks we REALLY need a night off.
The stars had aligned and we had an opportunity for some free babysitting. It was only for a few hours, but we could have dinner alone so we were thrilled. We signed up the kids for the free event in advance. For the next few weeks I daydreamed and held tight to the fact that we would be having a night off soon. The day arrived, I got all gussied up, but when we got there they said they weren’t able to take the two toddlers and “sorry for the inconvenience”.
We were deflated to say the least, but determined to still try to salvage some of the evening. Instead of the nice dinner we had planned we took our tagalongs to Round Table (it’s not the Olive Garden more like a wannabe Chuck E Cheese pizza joint). The place was practically empty. Great. We got a table next to the game room and five dollars in quarters. It wasn’t “the dream date,” but it could still work. And for the most part it did.
We nibbled on the best Round Table had to offer (aka grease and cheese). About every five minutes one or both of the girls would come back to our table. In order to deflect them we would:
- Give them more quarters
- Let them eat nibbles of our food
- Allowed them to buy plastic junky jewelry out of the quarter machines
- Bribed them with ice cream if they would keep playing their games
Each time trying to make the interaction with them as short as possible so we could get back to our adult conversation. Also, in the midst of all this deflection we tried to keep the girls quiet (they tend to talk very loudly especially when excited) because there was a middle aged couple sitting next to us. Even though they didn’t say one word to each other the entire meal we didn’t want to be rude. I wish they would have thought to extend the same courtesy.
When they finished their meal the woman approached our table and in a very matter of fact tone said,
“Just some advice, you really should spend more time with your children. You don’t want to regret it. They grow up so fast.”
I was shocked, but as calmly as possible I responded in my equally matter of fact tone with,
“I have six kids, my oldest is eighteen so I know they do indeed grow up. I’m a stay-at-home mom, I’m very involved in all my children’s lives and this was supposed to be our date night.”
Instead of apologizing for her rudeness she replied with,
“Well I raised five and you don’t have to be so defensive.”
Her husband was long gone after her rude remark leaving a very awkward staring match between us until she realized I wasn’t going to budge on my feelings. She left along with what was left of my evening. Game over. I went and sat in the car while Ryun gathered up the girls and our leftovers.
Unbelievable. I am constantly amazed by the amount of unwanted parenting advice I receive from strangers. Is it because I’m a young mom? An adoptive mom? What?!? I’ve got MANY more stories like this one from my last 12 years of parenting. Ryun told me how “very proud” of me he was for how calmly I responded to the woman (I’m known for being quite feisty).
I know deep down in her heart the woman thought she was doing me a favor. But let this be a lesson. Don’t judge parents. You don’t know what is going on the moment you see a kid having a breakdown in a store, or why a parent is dragging a screaming kid to the car or why two parents are using the arcade as a babysitter. Instead realize there is always more than meets the eye and most likely the parent is need of a much deserved break.
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