A Child’s Meltdown

by L

When She Says, She Says Goes Viral: A Toddler’s Cries in a Diner are Heard Across the Internet

When faced with child meltdowns in a store or restaurant, what do Totebaggers do?

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65 thoughts on “A Child’s Meltdown

  1. If I’m with my husband, one of us just takes the offending child outside until they calm down, if they can’t I suppose I’d take them to the car (this has never happened so haven’t had to actually test this limit). It’s trickier if I’m by myself (which is why I’m not often eating out with all three kids by myself). I would never let one of my kids scream in a restaurant/movie/store, etc. This seemed to happen more often with my oldest when she was an only. I can’t really think of many times I’ve had to remove the younger two, but we’re usually more prepared with toys/books, etc now.

  2. we’ve had to leave casual restaurants many times due to melt downs. if we aren’t done with our food, we get it to go. if we haven’t ordered our food, DH will take DS to the car, and we’ll either get carry out or eat something else depending on the individual situation.

  3. Mine are past this age, but in general we did the following:
    1. Did our best to go to a restaurant /store/activity BEFORE our kids were really hungry, espeically with DD#2 who would meltdown due to hunger.
    2. Did our best to pick places that were kid/family friendly when they were little and work our way as they learned more table manners and could control themselves longer.
    3. When the behavior began to deteriorate, we took them outside and let them know if they could not behave, we would leave. Less than a handful of times did we need to do that.
    4. That handful of times, we asked for our food to be packaged to go, tipped well and left.
    5. When traveling we realy focused on #1 and #2.

    We were “lucky” in that our daycare focused on family style meals starting at 12 months old. The kids were taught rules (1) leave your seat other than to go to the bathroom and you are done, (2) you don’t touch other people’s food, (3) you sit properly in your chair – feet on the floor (they had mini chairs so this was possible, (4) you ask for what you would like, (5) you eat with the utensils, not your fingers unless it is finger food (no fingers in jello!), and (6) you say please and/thank you. We reinforced these at home and started adding more as it was age appropriate.

    I realize there are times when you are traveling or other things beyond your control making all the planning in the world go out the window or parents are just exhausted and overwhelmed themselves.

  4. I say “We don’t cry in restaurants.” Then walk them out if they don’t stop. I walk them back in after they stop. While they are crying, I browse on my phone. I don’t stop whatever we are doing since I don’t want the cryer to stop the event. I have also found that many times the crying or misbehaving kid really has a point but can’t really articulate it. Where the hell is our food? Why are these chairs so uncomfortable ? Why is there so much ambient noise?

  5. I can’t deal with this kid-in-diner-with-crazed-owner story one more time. I have a slight hijack – for those of you in Seattle or who have been there, I am looking for a recomendation for a waterfront seafood restaurant. I want a place that takes reservations because I do NOT wait in long lines to eat (and that is a surefire way to push a kid into a tantrum anyway!), but it should be not too fancy. My kids are way beyond the tantrum years and are usually decent in restaurants, but formal stuffy places make ME want to misbehave! Anyway, we promised them seafood so I need to find a place

  6. Hello from (what was) sunny Scotland. We are having a lovely trip and are just now in a hotel with wifi; it’s actually been rather nice not having it, but my excuses for not checking in at work just vanished.

    We had this issue horrifically with DD, who had her “terrible twos” from @1-3, and who was happy/loud/excited when not unhappy/loud/tantruming — kid was just born without a volume button. But I also refused to be “that” parent, so we just had to learn many coping mechanisms.

    1. Like Austin said, go only when they are not already exhausting or starving. Even today we don’t go out Friday nights — as much as I’d like not to cook, more often than not things still degenerate to nasty sniping.

    2. Order the kids’ food first — and tell them to skip courses and bring everything when it is ready. If you have one of those kids, you have pretty short windows before they get food and after they finish.

    3. Be prepared with kid activities. If your kid likes games/puzzles, more power to you. That wasn’t our kid. On days like the one in the story, we tag-teamed it — take the kid outside before food comes, eat, play with/entertain kid at table to extend time as long as possible, then trade off taking kid outside so both could finish. Or, worst-case, just box it up and get the heck outta Dodge.

    IME, people who start from the assumption that it is the other guy’s fault are usually the bulk of the problem. Which, honestly, sounds like both sides here. Parents have to be clued in enough to realize that even “happy” shrieks can be loud and annoying to others. People who dine in and who run restaurants that cater to families (like, say, a diner) need to be prepared and flexible when dealing with kids and parents. Yelling and flame wars just make both sides look worse than the kid (who at least has the excuse of being a kid) — this was not a Michelin-starred night on the town, where you’d expect the parents to understand kids are not welcome and silence is expected.

  7. I never understtood the idea of bringing food out early for kids. When my kids were small, that would utterly backfire – they would eat and be done before the adult food came out, leaving them antsy and bored before we even had a chance to eat! Much better to bring crayons and books to entertain them before the food came, and then have everyone eat at the same time.

  8. One other thing – this incident happened at a DINER. Diners are places that are loud and family oriented. When I go to a diner, especially at breakfast, I expect to see shrieking kids. If I wanted a kid free experience, I would go anyplace other than a diner

  9. When our children were under 5, we always chose family friendly restaurants or got a babysitter. Parents have to be aware that their children are bothering others and act switfly. Know your children and make sure they can tolerate eating out. What has amazed my DH and I has been waitstaff who ask if we want our childrens’ food first – the answer is always no. No we don’t want our kids to have nothing to do while we try to eat our meal and trust me neither does anyone around us.

    I think parents and waitstaff can work together to have the meal go smoothly. We always checked the menu from home before we left if possible or it there was any wait time we would look at one then. We were ready to order both our drinks and meals at the same time to minimize lag time – we did not order any special meals that took longer to cook. We were ready to get to go containers and the check once the kids were done.

    Waitstaff could assist by recognizing that there are small children at the table and assist in the plan to get in and out a quickly as possible. For that table, ask if they are ready to order when they are first seated – don’t do the staggered start unless they are not ready. Bring the meals out together with extra napkins. Lately many of the places seem to have napkins with no absorbency – bring out paper ones. Halfway through the meal, ask if they will be ordering anything else – don’t say dessert? Shortly thereafter, ask if they need togo boxes and the check. Don’t leave tables with small children waiting around, check in often and move them along quickly.

    When we followed the above, we had a good time and the people around us were able to enjoy themselves. Bonus, we always tipped above average when the waitstaff was on the same page!

  10. When I go to a diner I don’t expect shrieking kids, at least not ones that keep shrieking. But I wouldn’t yell at the kid, probably just roll my eyes loudly. :)

    I enjoyed a meal at Etta’s in Seattle. It’s owned by a famous chef, or at least that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve been to a couple of other places that I liked, but I can’t remember their names. Actually, I’ve never had a bad meal in Seattle.

  11. MM – I’ll sometimes ask for my kid’s food to come out early because she gets “hangry” and diversion tactics don’t work. If she gets to go ahead and eat, then she can more easily be persuaded to sit quietly and color afterward while the grownups eat. And sometimes she even gets to have dessert while the grownups have their entrees.

  12. I expect to see shrieking kids.

    You know that piercing shriek that only a 2 year old can do? You can’t tell me that wouldn’t get on your nerves very quickly.

  13. @LfB – hope you are having fun. Want a full report. Have only been to Edinburgh, but love Scotland!

    I handled my kids like most here.

    If I’m in a situation like that and the parents are really making an effort, I am sympathetic and keep my mouth shut. If they are not trying and it has an impact on me, Oh I will have have said something. Sometimes to the kid sometimes to the parent. My biggest pet peeve is parents who let kids stand on benches or chairs in restaurants or other places – other people are going to sit there. Direct quote to my children “Just because this is a family restaurant does not mean it is a playground” but I also remember that my “low end” restaurant may be the nicest thing someone else can afford. So while you will maybe tolerate a little more nonsense at Fridays – this might be some parent’s lone “nice” dinner out. Its pretty safe to assume that at any place that has mixed ages (i.e. not a playground) the behavioral bar should be to be as quiet and respectful as possible. Don’t get me started on museums and the people who let their kids bang on the kid exhibits like they are in Thunderdome!

  14. It may be my faulty memory failing me, but I don’t remember my kids having many meltdowns. I just remember them being very messy eaters, and after we dined our tables typically looked like a hurricane had hit. But I always traveled with books, stickers, and similar diversions.

  15. “The kids were taught rules (1) leave your seat other than to go to the bathroom and you are done,”

    I like that rule. It’s always bugged me (probably irrationally) when kids are allowed to repeatedly leave and return to the table. Many parents don’t seem to care at all. Of course, some kids are more antsy than others, so there’s that.

  16. It was a long time before I could take my kids out to dinner. It wasn’t so much screaming and crying but general fooling around, not staying in the seat, playing under the table, wanting to checkout other kids, walk around, etc. Drove me crazy, so we didn’t go out very often. A couple of times I left with the offender and we ate in the van while the rest of the family stayed in the restaurant. That kind of shocked them into submission.

    We started by going to casual places for breakfast, like Einstein’s Bagels. Generally places where I wouldn’t go now, LOL, because it’s too noisy. If it was a disaster, we waited a couple of months and tried again. We gradually progressed to nicer venues and dinners vs. breakfasts as their behavior improved. I think it’s really important that parents not put the kids in a situation where they can’t reasonably expect the kids to behave.

    Long waits, tired kids, overly hungry kids, kids who have been still for too long and just need to move around = bad restaurant experience.

  17. Agree that ordering kids dinners early only works if they’re over 5! If done with a toddler you will not be able to enjoy your own dinner. Order an appetizer for everyone instead if they need to eat.

  18. One of my kids had very bad meltdowns at life in general, but really never in restaurants. We were pretty strict about public behavior, and would take a kid out at the first sign of things heading south. Maybe that’s because we knew how bad they could get – almost always contributed to by hunger.

    We typically picked restaurants that had chips or bread brought out before the meal. We played games like I Spy or made up Star Wars trivia questions while we waited for our food. Keeping them engaged made all the difference for us. There were no expectations of adult conversations.

    Like someone else mentioned, I cut parents who are trying a lot of slack. Parents who seem oblivious to what is happening at their table, not so much.

  19. I think this is one of those cases where the truth is somewhere in the middle. The kid probably wasn’t as bad as the server makes it out to be and wasn’t as good as the mother makes it out to be. I also think the mother was probably a bit oblivious as to how disruptive the child really was, and the server didn’t handle it very well.

  20. We eat out fairly often and like to think our kid is now used to eating out. But as soon screaming starts, DH starts youtube. That is enough to buy us some quiet time.

  21. Honestly…other peoples’ kids’ noises do not bother me >90% of the time. Crying in church, on airplanes, in diners/fast-food/family oriented restaurants. Really. Sometimes yes but I always remember our kids were probably no better and I was once a young’un and I probably wasn’t any better myself.
    If the parents are trying to control the kid(s), and the behavior is within the normal range, there’s not much more to be asked.

    DD is probably right ” the truth is somewhere in the middle.”

  22. Mooshi, I know Anthony’s takes reservations. You should also check Ivar’s. Both of these are the local chain restaurants for seafood.

  23. This story and its brethren are why I fear going out in public with my son. Everyone is quick to blame and judge. Hell, I’m guilty of it too…

    On eating out – very rarely do it with my son. It’s not that he’s horrible, it’s just that it’s a bleeping PITA. The stroller, the bag, the food, the this, the that… but on the few occasions we do, we pretty much do what you all do. I have yet to eat out as a single parent, and I would be very scatterbrained trying to do it now.

    I have to give a shout out to two servers who were patient with us newbies… Cracker Barrel brought out one side dish before the rest of the dinners so DS could mash/eat a sweet potato. And at the Cheesecake Factory, our server went above and beyond finding roasted smashed apples for DS. I didn’t get a children’s menu, so I just asked if they had something and out came the apples. DS loved them, and he was a happy camper mashing away.

  24. Rhode – We didn’t eat out with the kids until they were at least 3. Mind you, there are two of them at that same difficult stage. So you are doing well if you have managed it before that age.

    And, we still have issues with not getting up from the table and using utensils.

  25. I think it is also important to add that when I see a child who is really well behaved whether in a restaurant or on a plane I make a habit to compliment them on their good behavior. I think it helps when they know that people notice and appreciate their efforts. The worst is when you do that and the parent says “oh no, you should see them at home” or something to that effect instead of “thank you. He/she is really trying hard.”

  26. Just bring out some bread for the kids, and mine are well behaved 99% of the time. Crayons work, too. One of the Italian restaurants gives them some pizza dough to use. They love that. Occasionally they want to go to the bathroom too many times, but I am not willing to risk calling their bluff on that. My kids have always been better behaved in public than when they are at home. People always compliment us and I always offer to let them come to my house to see the little hellions in their natural environment.

  27. As toddlers it was similar to what folks have already said. Now at 3, 5, and 7, my kids do well with crayons and something to write, a book for my oldest if a wait is really long, a bread basket, etc. I sometimes think we’re the only family that enforces the whole bit about actually sitting at the table to eat. My 3 year old is struggling with that one, but the other kids have gotten it. It helps. They sit much shorter at home for meals than in a restaurant, but I still think it helps. I cut people a lot of slack out with kids if they actually try, and I hope others extend the same courtesy.

  28. We generally don’t take the kids out to places much. More usual for us to get take-out and eat at home. Kids have ants in their pants and always want to take a bite, run around, take another bite, run around, which I don’t tolerate, but it’s like playing whack-a-mole at home with putting them back in their seats. Occasionally I have to threaten them with the baby seat (with buckles), which gets them back in the chair. As they get older I think this will get better.

    We do use drawing w/ crayons, walking around the restaurant (if it is big), and phones (in extreme cases) to keep them occupied before the food arrives. I have the same issue with the kids’ food arriving first – no good because they will eat and want to leave right away.

  29. Agree – parents attempting control (generally bite our tongue); parents ignoring the unruly kid (speak to wait staff and/or manager). We do try to be observant as well – one restaurant we like is one of the few kid friendly on a stretch of highway near our house. Around the holidays there are often more rowdy kids, but they also seem to be traveling, so we say less.

    One day we complained about a family letting their kids play chase (yes, full speed) in a busy restaurant because with all the full trays coming through it was dangerous. Before the manager made it from our table to theirs, the littlest tripped on his own (like 2 yr. old) feet and knocked the wind out of himself, just as a server came out of the kitchen with a tray and tripped on the boy as he couldn’t see him just outside the swinging door. The server went down, the food went down and on to the legs of another table of diners, who were not the family of the kids, and the server. There was a lot of commotion, but no one was badly hurt. The manager had the family’s food packaged to go and asked them to leave. They started to fuss, but with all the rest of the glaring in the restaurant they backed down. The diners with food on them got a free meal. We directed extra tip to the server who fell as it appeared he had to go home to change clothes before he could serve hygenically again and likely lost out on income for the night.

  30. and phones (in extreme cases)

    I wonder if that’s part of the tension. Some objecting to being made martyrs to the peculiar parenting predilections of others.

  31. I think one of the things that is not in dispute is that the owner of the restaurant screamed at the toddler. I’m a big believer in “it takes a village”, but people should not lose their crap and yell and other people’s kids. In general, I think screaming at children is a lot like screaming of drunk people: you’ve lost before you even started. Another thing that is not in dispute is that the restaurant took 40 minutes to provide a breakfast of pancakes. It seemed a set up for a terrible situation, and perhaps the parents were clueless, but I mostly fault the out of control owner.

  32. My kids’ absolute favorite in Seattle is the crab pot. It has all the trappings for tourists, but it’s big pots of seafood boiled and served on your table with hammers. A real treat for toddlers who want to annoy other diners.

  33. Of course we did the remove-crying-child thing — really, who’s going to say, “I just ignore them and eat!” — but with three of them, that made it touch and go to get through a meal when they were all little so we just avoided eating out for years. And I’m sure even with the remove-crying-child policy, there are people giving you stink-eye by the time you’ve actually concluded that the child is crying (not just whimpering a little but willing to be jollied out of it) and needs to be removed. It makes me appreciate being able to eat out as a family now, like when we were on our trip and could actually enjoy eating at some nice places all together.

    I saw the diner owner’s FB rant and it seemed more like the work of someone with an ax to grind about children than a reasonable person who tries to work with her customers. As others have said, both parties were likely at fault.

  34. Oh, Rhett, I’m not meaning to suggest that “extreme cases” never happens. Far from it! ;) Sometimes, though, if there are 3 kids and 2 phones, the fighting over the phone is worse than the ants in the pants that preceded it, so we try not to bring them out if there will be a fight.

  35. Hi folks. Back at home from the Arctic Circle. I used my flight home to watch a movie and try to catch up on the past ten days of the Totebag (not entirely successfully). Some interesting topics.

    DH appears to have survived . (He is not yet home from his card game, so I don’t have visual evidence. I think he may have grown a beard from a hint he dropped.). The cats looked happy to see me, but none the worse for wear. One of the planter boxes seems to have dried out. DD and I got along very well. Great group of travelers.

    I will get the photo link from CoC and post a few pictures later this week. The main Greenland surprise was the mosquitos, who were apparently unaware that military issue DEET is supposed to repel them. We used head nets when not on the water. I went out in the kayak three times. On one trip an iceberg rolled over a hundred feet from the boat. The summer has been very short and cold up there, so we had to be helicoptered out to the regional capital (pop 2000) the last day since the ice was too thick on the fjord for the shuttle boat to come get us. The little helicopter made three trips for the 15 of us, and then called it a night without making a fourth for the luggage, so the local East Greenlandic guide borrowed a small wooden boat from someone in his nearby village (pop 101) and wove through the ice with our bags. We were all in good spirits about it. They don’t call it adventure travel for nothin’.

  36. We took our kids to many restaurants for lunches starting out very young. Many of these were “nice” restaurants. I had the usual crayons and small toys handy. This was pre smart phones. I see my little nephews keep very quiet when given their iPads. I don’t recall any screaming meltdowns just fussiness if the meal went on too long. If we were seated in a corner (which often we were) DS would play very quietly on the floor while we finished our meal and got the check. I was more bothered about leaving a mess behind – I tried to clean up the best I could. DD had a phase where the more water/juice she drank, the more she wanted to go to the restroom. It was a phase but let me tell you I have been to way too many restaurant restrooms.
    The meltdowns my kids had concerned balloons. I can now walk by balloon displays without having to buy one.

  37. Mooshimooshi: Chinook’s is one of my favorites in Seattle: https://www.anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/chinook-at-salmon-bay

    I only remember one restaurant meltdown. I was by myself and DS #1 was 18 months. It was a local breakfast place. Very casual. I got DS eggs and the mere sight of them sent him over the edge. (Totally unexpected, I think he was just being 2.) Back arching, screaming, drooling, crying – all out zero to 60 meltdown. I immediately got up to leave (not having taken a single bite of my food) but then couldn’t get him out of the highchair because of the back arching. I was totally flustered and this older guy came over and started lecturing me. By this time I am half dragging the highchair with me. Thankfully another mom came running up and quietly said “What can I do to help you?” I asked if she could just open the door for me, and then grab my bagel for me while I got him into the car. She did both. It was awful but her kindness was so appreciated.

    That was the only meltdown I remember. But our boys were so active that restaurants were never a great place for us until they were around 6 or 7. Now they truly have impeccable restaurant manners and we can take them anywhere, which I really appreciate.

  38. Meme,

    What an adventure! I didn’t even know Greenland had cruises.

    PS – glad DH is ok.

  39. As a latecomer to this board lately, I apologize if somebody has mentioned this solution for being a solo parent with a toddler or young kid in a restaurant. I’ve only made it to Rhode at 12:38.

    With Junior, I went to any restaurant I wanted. I’d ask for two seats at the bar or a table for two in the smoking section (they had them then). I always tried to look at the menu before we were seated. The moment the server came over, I’d say, “An orange juice and a chili-dog with a side salad (do you have Kale? You do?!! Good.) for Junior with strawberry ice cream for dessert, and two Coors Lights, the salmon and a side salad with iceberg for me. And can you bring me the check immediately? I want to pay you now, and if Junior misbehaves in any way, we are out of here. If you don’t see us, we are gone and we aren’t returning. I’ll tell you if I have to take him to the bathroom.” And then I’d pay, in full, with nice tip usually at the same time the first drink arrived.

    And as promised, if Junior acted up in any way, we were out of there. Generally the ride home was frosty. Then it was either something I cooked or, if we were on the road, a crappy sandwich from 7/11 or something.

    Happily, Junior was a pretty good diner when he was young– and still is.

  40. *impeccable manners so long as they have been run like dogs during the day and aren’t seated next to each other.

  41. this older guy came over and started lecturing me

    You wonder what these people are thinking. Like, that is somehow going to help? Or he’s totally oblivious to the fact that you’re trying to deal with the situation and just saw an opportunity to yell at a young mom about how crappy parents and kids are today?

    My oldest has started making the occasional remark about a crying baby being annoying or that sort of thing. And I’m like, ooooh, don’t even start, you have no idea what an annoying noisy little brat you yourself could be at that age.

  42. You wonder what these people are thinking.

    As you age you lose the ability to self censor. Think, for example, of America’s favorite short fingered vulgarian ;-)

  43. This post has made me so relieved that my kids are grown, and I don’t have to worry about it anymore. Going back to yesterday’s post’s hijack, I’m also glad my kids slept on their stomachs because I think they slept better than they would have on their backs. It is interesting to see how the recommendations change; I was told to put my daughter on her stomach in case she spit up in the night, 3+ years later it had switched to side and/or back, but I had already started putting DS on his stomach and just never told the pediatrician!

    For going to restaurants our strategies were:
    1) go early, so there was no line to be seated and the kitchen wasn’t backed up.

    2) ask for the check when they brought our food (although PTM’s idea of as soon as we ordered is even better!).

    3) eat quickly and don’t plan on lingering.

    4) the usual one parent taking the fussy kid outside for a while.

    5) bring crayons and paper for drawing.

  44. When the kids were very young, our favorite place to go out to eat was a sushi bar with a conveyor belt of food constantly moving by. Not having to wait to order and be served greatly cut down the total dining time and the opportunities to behave badly. I can’t recall either kid ever behaving badly there.

  45. Besides the sushi places, when the kids were very young, we usually went to places that had crayons and place mats with puzzles and pictures to color. Besides providing something to keep the kids occupied, that was a sign that those restaurants expected to serve families with young kids.

    Rows of booster seats are also a sign of a restaurant expecting to serve young kids.

  46. “I never understtood the idea of bringing food out early for kids. When my kids were small, that would utterly backfire – they would eat and be done before the adult food came out, leaving them antsy and bored before we even had a chance to eat!”

    Having the kids’ food brought out as soon as it was ready worked for us. It prevented hungriness and a long wait from precipitating bad behavior. My kids ate much more slowly than me, so getting their food first often meant we would be finishing our meals at about the same time.

    When they were young, eating out was often tied to shopping. They were used to spending a lot of time waiting for DW while shopping, so they usually brought along books or handheld video games to keep themselves occupied, so they would usually just take in stride some additional wait time to be seated and served.

  47. Our church on Sunday mornings is full of families with young kids along with a fair number of very tolerant seniors. There is a LOT of sudden crying, fussing, playing/drawing in the pews arguing/fighting (quietly) among siblings.
    By the age of six/seven almost all kids have grown, can sit quietly and follow along for an hour. A miracle, I say.

  48. In addition to what has been mentioned, we would chose restaurants that could be considered to have some sort of entertainment/activity while you were waiting for your food like teppanyaki, yakiniku, shabu shabu or sitting at the counter. Or sit by the fish tank, turtle pond, or fountain. Or go to one of the restaurants with a view of the fishermen unloading their catch, or watch planes landing.

  49. I love PTM’s idea. That’s going to be my plan if I ever eat out alone with DS.

    So far DS has been good in Church. He will eat or fall asleep. He also likes to hold the laminated cards with the ‘new’ verbiage. Our new priest is also very accepting of babies and is ok if they cry. Thank goodness because DS is getting louder and more vocal.

  50. “we would chose restaurants that could be considered to have some sort of entertainment/activity while you were waiting for your food”

    Chuck E. Cheese?

  51. We’ve never been to a Chuck E. Cheese so, I can’t comment.

    Tonight we plan to have pupus at The Charthouse, and watch for the green flash.

  52. Mr WCE got a smartphone about the time our twins were toddlers. One of his first apps was the McPlayplace finder. We rarely eat out, mostly due to cost and logistics, but Baby WCE did fine on her only casual dining visit (and Mr WCE was gone) so far. So far, she’s mellower than her brothers.

    Stores are more of a challenge. I remember putting DS1 (2) in the cart seat and pulling the cart with groceries while pushing the twin stroller. Other people just went around me.

  53. @WCE – if there are fussing toddlers in line at the checkout and if I happen to be behind them, I make funny faces at them. Their attention is diverted (they must think – who is this new clown ?) and the few minutes of distraction ensures a smooth checkout for the parent who normally has more than one young kid to handle.

  54. For those places with the placemats or similar that the kids color. Mine wanted to take them home. We started the tradition that they color them and then write THANK YOU on the top and leave them for the server. At first we had to help them with every letter, but over time, they’d do it on their own without being prompted. We always left the final payment on top. This was their kid version of tipping.

  55. My older one is officially a middle schooler today. I am more sad now. I feel it is the first step of good bye.

  56. Austinmom, love that idea.

    Rhode and Louise – I am curious. No nursery at the church? I am used to having nursery for the under-5s, then sunday school or choir for the over-5s.

  57. L – there is a nursery but I am not sure if many people take advantage of it. I kept DD there a few times but it was easier for me to sit in the lobby area where I could still hear the mass but DD could move around without disturbing the main congregation. When she got to 3.5 – 4 yrs she came inside with the family and was expected to make it through the hour. Most other parents follow a similar time table. Little babies inside, toddlers outside, preschoolers and above back inside (with going out if necessary), kindergartners and above – inside and behaving.

  58. L – we have a baby/children’s room, but it gets filled pretty quick with rambunctious toddlers. It’s a room with bookshelves, pews, and a window/microphone set up so families can participate. I’d just rather take DS into the lobby for a few minutes than deal with a small/stuffy room.

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