Today was an interesting day. With my daughter starting school in September, I have been making the most of the few full days we have left together. We left the house at 10 and spent the morning at the library and shops, so by lunch time we were all pretty ravenous.
For those of you who haven't met my daughter... she is best described by the all encompassing parenting phrase "spirited". She is absolutely full of life, always happy, always laughing, singing and dancing, but also a little over energetic and at times. I wonder if her ears can hear any of the instructions that come out of my mouth - but she is four years old, and she is living life to the full. I have to repeat myself regularly, ask her to be quiet often, and at times wish she came with a volume control. But discipline her I do. I think it is important that she learns some boundaries, and I think manners are important. I also like others to see that she is corrected when she has done something wrong...
But when, if ever, is appropriate for someone else to discipline your child???
A family member, yes of course - my Dad and my sister would happily tell her off if she did something wrong, and I wouldn't bat an eyelid.
A friend? Sure - if she is misbehaving and putting herself or my friend's children in a situation they shouldn't be in then absolutely, I am comfortable with a friend asking her to stop.
But a waiter? A complete stranger? Over something fairly minor? No. Not OK sorry.
Today I watched and bit my lip as a waiter, a person who was serving me and my child my lunch told off not only my child, but another group of children to my right.
He came over to take our order, and my daughter was singing. Nothing loud, and nothing rude, just her latest rendition of You Are My Sunshine - something which I am guessing is going to form part of her preschool graduation, as she has been singing it on repeat for the last month.
As I was listing our food items he looked at her and exclaimed - "Stop singing, I can't hear your mum". There wasn't a smile, and it was blunt. To her credit, she stopped singing (and then quickly continued when he left).
I didn't think much of it at the time, but when I heard him tell another group of boys who were sat with their mums a few minutes later it really started to get my back up. "Sit down now boys your dinner is coming".
There was no warmth, no gritted teeth smile of "Come on now lads, your dinner's on it's way"
Someone was clearly having a bad day, and it showed.
Whilst I understand that for some it would be lovely if children could sit nicely and colour in their menus without making any noise whatsoever, most parents know this is a rarity. It happened to us once - the illusion of perfect parenting, and I don't expect it will happen again any time soon.
I also happen to enjoy my daughter's singing. It wasn't loud, it wasn't dangerous, and it wasn't intrusive - she was a four year old girl who was having a lovely day. This is a family restaurant in the middle of the day. If you don't like children, then I am sorry, dear Waiter, you are in the wrong job. I worked in retail for a large number of years, and I was taught to always treat a customer with respect, no matter how much they may get your back up.
And as for his tip?
It was used to treat my daughter to a new Mashem. Thank you very much.
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