Tonight Henry and I joined some of his school friends and their families for dinner at a local pizza place. Super casual and kid friendly, mind you. Well, when we eat out at casual places I usually let my son roam around a little and explore … all within eye sight (and ear shot). Tonight was no different. He wandered from our table to the patio sitting area then came back to his seat when I motioned for him to come back.
A little bit later he did it again. Same exact situation. Same outcome.
Then, he did it again … except this time he took a turn and BOLTED towards the parking lot and one of his little friends followed. Well, I was NOT expecting that/was somewhat trapped in my seat … thankfully one of the other moms ran after and wrangled them back.
I was immediately glad everyone was safe and ok. I also made Henry look at me and say he was sorry and repeat “I will not run away from the table and into the parking lot.” Now that took a solid 5 minutes of me coaxing it out of him, but he finally said “I will not run away from the table and into the parking lot.” All was fine.
It wasn’t until a bit later in the evening that I suddenly began to feel both embarrassed that I didn’t respond quicker and that Henry behaved that way. That was actually really dangerous, and I’m not used to him breaking away into a parking lot. We talk about parking lots a LOT. Like a lot a lot. Between school pick ups/drop offs, church, grocery store trips, and Target – he knows that there are “cars and trucks in parking lots” and “we have to be safe and walk by Mom.”
Then, it hit me. Back up. As a solo parent, I don’t have back up in situations like this. That’s why I probably let him get away with more … ’cause it is wearing to always be the “no” parent. At least if there are two of you, you can share the discipline and care. It is exhausting to the only person watching, following, disciplining. Because of this, I have adopted more of the “free range” style of parenting. Disciplining when necessary, not hovering, making necessary rules but not EXTRA rules. Then things like tonight happen, and I wonder if I have parented Henry to be THAT kid … to be the one who really DOESN’T behave when out in public!? Or worse, maybe I’m the mom who doesn’t recognize when he is in need of more discipline and guidance!?
This is probably more in my head than real, he is a toddler after all … but if you were me wouldn’t you think the same thing?! In the meanwhile, I’m thankful for the village around me who helps to be a second pair of eyes when mine aren’t enough; and I pray that Henry can remember the rules that are in place, the ones that keep him safe and hopefully help grow him to be a kind, well-behaved young man.