Dear Mom with Kids Younger than Mine…

mcdonalds

Dear Reader,

I promise to always try and keep my blog a positive, happy place. Of course, life is messy, and I promise to be real as I wade through the mess at times. But this is not a place for me to rant. Like my mom always said (heck, she still says it): If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. With this in mind, I will take tonight’s horrible experience at the McDonald’s Playplace and transform it into something beautiful for you. Promise.

As you know, here in Tennessee we are in the midst of #icemageddon15 or #icestorm2015 or #icepocolypse or something of that nature. Basically, lots of precipitation and suuuuuper low temps = Tennessee shuts down for a week. Literally.

Today was the first day this week that you could really safely travel, and most businesses were open. However, school is still out for the rest of the week, and children’s brains are melting from too much TV while their bodies nearly implode from the pent up energy. Parents are losing their minds even faster than the children. It’s brutal. Everyone is desperate to get out of the house. Tonight we took our kids – ages 7, 4, and 3 – to the mall, but the play area was overrun with itty bitties. For the safety of the itty bitties and the sanity of their parents, we left and took the rambunctious pre-schoolers to McDonald’s instead.

While not overrun in numbers, our local establishment contained 4 or 40 – it was really hard to say – elementary aged (read: older than my kids and old enough to know better) boys, apparently celebrating one of their birthdays with 2 moms present. I promised positivity here, so I will spare you the ugly details of our adventure. Although you may pick up on a few clues below. Given this experience, I wish to give you my PROMISE to you other moms with kids younger than mine:

Dear mom with kids younger than mine,

I see you over there, watching your itty bitty just begin to toddle around the play area. She is so excited to explore the world, and you’re here to give her a “safe” place to do so, what with the rubber flooring and padded play equipment. She seems so big to you right now, and you’re so proud… That is, until you see me enter the room with my bigger kids. They may not be that big right now, but one day they will be pushing the height restrictions on this play place, and you’ll be extra nervous. Even now, they’re big enough to trample your little one, and that’s big enough for you to keep an eye on them… and ME.

Yes, I do sometimes bring my kids to fast food playgrounds to play and climb off some steam while I use the free wifi to catch up on New York Times articles or TED Talk transcripts. (Okay, I’m really on Facebook. Sue me.) But I see your little one. And I promise that as long as your kiddo is here, I will watch my children as closely as you are. I have already been teaching them to be careful around smaller tots, but I know children get distracted. I promise to watch them around your baby, and I promise to call them down when they play too rough or too close, so you don’t have to.

I will teach my children to help children smaller than they or those that need a hand. At only 4 years old, my oldest child once coaxed a scared little girl from the top of play equipment where her mom couldn’t reach her. I promise I am teaching this type of care and concern to my boys, despite ugly stereotypes of little boy insensitivity.

If there are lots of little children present, or if my kids don’t mind their manners around yours, I promise we will leave. 

If my child’s Pump It Up party gets cancelled due to weather conditions and I have to move the whole shebang to McDonald’s, I promise I will not allow my child to open his birthday presents in the middle of the restaurant, thereby inciting wonder and jealousy among every other non-birthday child there. I will not allow my child to run his remote control car up under your feet. I promise.

I promise to never give my child a laser pointer. Ever. Under no circumstances will my child have a laser pointer, at least not until he or she is old enough to understand the repercussions of pointing the blasted thing in someone’s eyes. (1. Possible blindness; 2. Possible punch in the face from someone who doesn’t want an obnoxious laser pointed in their eyes.) If someone gives my child a laser pointer, I will promptly confiscate it until we get home and I can safely throw it in the garbage. I definitely will not allow my child to point it at strangers, including you and/or your child.

I promise to never allow my child to run at full speed and/or throw objects, big or small, all around any area where other people are gathered, especially one where those people are eating. If my child does spontaneously throw an object, I promise to yank them to the bathroom for a lesson in respect before that object hits you or your child or your table or any of your private property. If said object manages to dishonor your family or your personal space on the first offense, I promise to personally apologize to you and offer to buy you an iced coffee as a peace offering. I promise I will NOT completely ignore my child while he or she acts like a wild animal.

I promise to respect you and your family in this public space. Even if I am catching up with an old friend who I haven’t seen in 3 days 10 years, I will be a mom first and make sure my children behave like decent human beings, regardless of their age or yours.

While I admit I would feel defensive if another adult called down my child – because that’s my job – I promise that you won’t have to, because that’s my job.

I am so excited for you on your journey in parenthood! I’m not perfect, and my kids certainly aren’t either, but I do hope that my family will be an inspiration as you raise your own and not the subject of a blogosphere rant. Or positive-spin anti-rant post. Ya know, whatevs.

Love and luck to you,
Mary Beth

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