Lori Lori is a work-at-home mom of three living in Noblesville, Indiana.

I was nervous when my children were tiny babies. I’ll never forget the moment we hooked a tiny, screaming two-day-old baby boy into a car seat and loaded him into the car. I made my husband drive about 40 miles per hour on the highway and sat in the backseat. How was I going to protect him from all of the crazy and dangerous people in the world? How could I be up all night nursing my new baby and function the next day? How could I take care of him? I figured when my children became toddlers and could eat and do other tasks by themselves, things would be much easier. In a few ways, life is much simpler. But in other ways, I’m an inexperienced mom learning from my needy little ones who love to do the opposite of what I’m begging them to do. Here are some things my toddlers have taught me:

Toddlers Have Taught Me…

They are independent – or really, really needy. 

When it’s pouring raindrops the size of a full-grown German Shepherd, and the umbrella is tucked away safely in the car and all I want to do is buckle the soaking wet kids into the car, that’s the time they will decide they want to do it themselves. Last week, we were leaving my son’s school party. I hadn’t checked the weather forecast so we were sporting tank tops, sandals and shorts as most would assume was safe attire  for early June weather in Indiana. Rain jackets? Ha! Not in sight. So as we exited the school doors, I told my kids we were going to run for the car and as I put my daughter in her seat and began to buckle her, she threw a fit. And you know what it’s like when toddlers throw temper tantrums — not pretty. I stopped and asked what was wrong – she yelled MINE and got back out of her seat so she could climb into it herself.

Smiling proudly after completing
(with some help) her horsey puzzle.

But on the flip side, the time you want them to be independent and play alone for just a few minutes so you can assemble a lasagna, they will need your help. Right. Now. We have only done the horsey puzzle 86 times that day. Alas, I digress – the noodles can wait.

They will surprise you, and often.

One Sunday night we arrived home from a long weekend out of town. I came inside the house and placed my daughter, about 8 months old at the time, in the living room with a bunch of toys to hopefully occupy her for a few minutes while my husband and I unloaded the car. We carried in several bags from the weekend and quickly  took them up the stairs with the intent to unpack later after the children were asleep. We came down the stairs and realized our daughter was missing. We peered all over the main level and didn’t see her. My heart skipped a beat. Had she somehow crawled into the garage while we were unloading our bags? Next we heard giggling from our son and realized my daughter had, for the first time ever, crawled all of the way up the stairs to the second level of our home! That, my friends, was pretty impressive and it did not leave me feeling like mom of the year. (Don’t ask where our baby gates were).

Mealtime is rarely relaxing.

We usually eat our meals at home or select carry out over braving a night out at a restaurant. However, we do enjoy going out to dinner, and while it’s by far a chance to chat about the week ahead or really even taste my chicken chimichanga, it can be a pretty fun time (when did my kids become fun?) if we plan ahead. We always give our kids a pep talk on the drive to the restaurant and pack iPads (last resort) – and of course fill a lunch box full of peanut butter crackers, raisins and Nutri-Grain bars (appetizers?) for the kids to snack on while we wait on our food to arrive.

Enjoying a (fast) dinner out at a local Mexican restaurant the kids love!

We went out to the Pizza Hut buffet one evening last week. Sounds easy, right? What could be better than a place that’s serving pizza that’s already prepared! Luckily the place was full of families (I think Pizza Hut invented the buffet so all people with kids would come on the same night, and then all other week nights are more peaceful for guests without children). Needless to say, our noisy crew blended right in with all of the other families with hungry, excited and very loud children. At one point, my son was actually jumping on the booth seat like a trampoline! Every time I got up to get more pizza, one child or both children came screaming after me like I was never coming back. Other than that, I think the night went off without a hitch. Plus, you always have to look at the bright side — at least this time my son didn’t run into the kitchen at a Mexican restaurant or play in the toilets at Chuck E. Cheese during a birthday party.

Being a parent is wonderful. It’s terrific and amazing and terrifying all at the same time. Parenthood is a job I can’t imagine never having. My toddlers have taught me something every day. The toddlers have taught me to slow down. They inspire me to keep learning.  They make me crazy. They exhaust me. But most of all, what my toddlers have taught me is: they complete me.

Category: Kids

Tags: eating out with kids