Last year, while visiting a playground home to climbing structures as tall as my house, it seemed, with a curious and fast preschooler and a baby on my hip, I had to perform superhero feats just to catch my precariously dangling 3.5 year old son before he fell from a rope ladder… all while making a conscious effort to not drop the infant.
This scene played out as 3 other mothers stood 5 feet CLOSER to my falling child, all of them without a baby of any age attached or clinging to them. All while they watched on as I reached out with my go-go-gadget arms, barely swooping him up in time. Not a one of them reached out to help before, during, or even after his near-fall.
Today, we had a late lunch/early dinner at a local Potbelly sandwich shop, just me and the kids. When I go out to eat with them by myself, I try to, when at all possible, go to places at off times because I know we will, without a doubt, make a scene. It’s just the nature of the beast right now with a nearly 4 year old who’s always testing boundaries, a 15 month old who lives for the thrill of the chase, and a mother who is always a little on edge when left alone with them.
Be sure, though, I certainly TRY not to make a scene. I TRY to keep them in line, keep them quiet, keep them from throwing food, trash, and tantrums. But, there is only so much I can control. When I have to divide my energy between containing the children, paying for our food, getting the food to the table, cleaning off the table, setting up a highchair, getting drinks, etc., all my efforts get a little watered down.
You know what would help that immensely? What would make my experience AND THOSE AROUND ME so, so, so much better? Some help.
I get that Potbelly isn’t the type of establishment that brings your food to your table and gets your drinks for you. But when we are one of two tables there and there are 3 employees behind the counter watching all this go down, as my 4 year old runs off to take himself to the potty and accidentally knocks a highchair on my toe? Is it too much to ask for someone, anyone to step in, take the tray from me, take my food to my table, maybe ask me if they could help with anything?
And maybe all this comes off as a “I’m a parent of PRECIOUS CHILDREN and should be treated SPECIAL” whine, but I assure you that’s far from it. Because I really don’t want my kids to 1. get hurt and 2. to make our outings unpleasant for anyone, including those around us.
I mentioned this issue a while back on my Facebook page, and some readers noted that perhaps strangers just don’t feel comfortable intervening. That, in this day and age, people are worried about grabbing someone’s falling child for fear that the other parent doesn’t want them to interfere or touch their child. Maybe strangers at the restaurant or other employees think I don’t want… or that I’d be offended by the offer to help.
And I can understand all that. I just wish there was a way for me to project to everyone that YES, I’m am TOTALLY OK with help. I am one of the villagers who can’t keep her shit or her kids together on her own, and I would very much appreciate the help so that we can all enjoy nice things.
Maybe I should come up with a badge… or a tattoo… or just write it in Sharpie on my forehead:
“If it looks like I’m losing my mind or a child, please feel free to step in.”