Expecting Perfection

On the Tuesday morning of our trip to Santa Fe, the whole gang went to Guadalupe’s Café for breakfast.  This was a busy place, so we couldn’t get a table right away.  Once at the table, it took the wait staff a while to come take our orders. 

We’re all pretty well-versed in keeping children occupied, and I thought we were doing well.  This wasn’t a fancy restaurant, and it wasn’t a quiet ambiance.  It was bustling and relatively loud.  Both Claire and Mallory had waited too long, and there were a couple of outbursts, but nothing major and certainly nothing like what had happened the night before. 

Our food arrived, and everything had been going fine.  Claire made it quite clear toward the end of the meal that she was done with her food, and done with being strapped in her booster seat, and she was done with this restaurant.  She’d been relatively good for so long, and everyone else was finishing up.  Mallory had made it clear that she was finished as well, so Linda said she was taking her outside, and she’d wait for us.  Then, all the girls could walk back to the hotel and the boys could finish up and handle the check.

So, I put Claire in the stroller and disassembled the booster seat.  She had never had a fit in a restaurant before, even as a tiny baby.  She’d been this model child.  People had told me this wasn’t normal.  I was hoping our restaurant luck would last forever, but I knew that wasn’t possible.  I wanted to get out of there before she really threw a fit.  There was a lot of talking all around us, and I was so focused on getting things organized and getting out the door that I didn’t hear what happened next.

My hubby told us all later that the old woman at the table next to us, looked directly at him, gave him a disgusted eye-roll and said, “Thanks for ruining our breakfast.”

Excuse me?  I was devastated.  As hard as I tried, I could not shake that woman’s comment out of my head the entire day, and I hadn’t even heard it first-hand!  I’d gotten scrambled eggs, green chili sauce and Anasazi beans all over my Zen Master notes, so they were of no help to me.  Why would she say such a terrible thing?  It wasn’t like any of the kids were that bad.  We were at a breakfast place!  It was loud!  Claire had a few outbursts, but they certainly weren’t powerful enough ruin anybody’s anything, and if they were, it wasn’t Claire who had the issues.

That woman’s comments just made the tantrum from the night before come alive again.  Has my child reached the stage where I can’t control her?  Have I become one of those parents?  All day, I succeeded in fighting back the tears, but I could feel them stinging my eyeballs.  Crying would just give that horrid woman the exact reaction she wanted.  I’m bigger than this!  I’m not a bad mother!  My daughter is not a monster! 

I kept stewing all day.  What would I have said, had I actually heard her?  I’m really not a rude person in real life, but would my Momma Bear instincts have come out?  Would I have torn her to shreds with my Momma Bear Claws for threatening my daughter?  I’ll never know, but part of me hopes so.   

As the days passed, I’d wiped off my Zen Master notes, and was able to focus again on the important things.  Claire is a happy, healthy and normal toddler.  I’ve accepted the fact that she will have outbursts in public.    It’s not like we had her in an inappropriate situation or that we didn’t even try to make the situation better for those around us.  She’s almost two.  This is to be expected.  When looking at the trip as a whole, Claire was “good” about 90% of the time, and that’s excellent!  I’m trying my hardest to not expect perfection, and it’s too bad when others can’t do the same. 

My hubby is great at ignoring the ignorant, which is exactly what he did.  I, on the other hand, have been itching to say something to that sad and pathetic woman ever since.  What would have been a snappy retort?  Feel free to choose from the following list:

1.  You’re welcome!

2.  Asphinctersayswhat?

3.  She’s not even two and has no social graces.  What’s your excuse?

4.  Let me guess.  You haven’t pooped in four days either?

5.  It’s really a shame when raging menopause hormones rear their ugly heads, isn’t it?

6.  Who has the Scavenger Hunt List?  I found the crabby, old, wrinkly woman!

7.  I didn’t realize there was an Assisted Living Facility so close.  We’re so sorry to have bothered you on your daily outing.

8.  You think this is bad?  You should have been sitting next to the old hag at this table.

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