It started with the menu. It was waved around, used as a hat and, finally, after refusing to surrender it to the waiter, it was thrown on the floor. Then came the wiggling, occasional shouts of boredom and lunges for silverware.
As the noise level increased, so did my furtive looks at our fellow diners. Were they paying attention to our table? When my husband and I walked into the restaurant with our 19-month-old son, did they inwardly cringe at the possibility of having their meal disrupted?
Generally, my son is pretty well-behaved at restaurants. He’s been eating out with us since he was a few weeks old. He knows the routine and usually enjoys watching waiters bustle and diners come and go. Sometimes, not so much.
Over the last year and a half, we’ve learned a few things that work for us to help make the meal more enjoyable. Most of the time these work, but as any caregiver knows, there’s no guarantees with children.
1.) Be prepared. If we’re going to eat somewhere that I don’t think has food my son will eat, I bring a few little snacks or a drink, or feed him at home before we go. Also, bring a favorite toy. We try to keep a toy in the diaper bag that he only gets when we’re out, so it’s more interesting. And it probably goes without saying, but we bring extra diapers and wipes. Your child probably isn’t going to be the best meal companion if they need to be changed.
2.) Keep a wide berth on the table. One of the first things we do when we are seated is to rearrange the items on the table so they are at least an arm’s length away from our son. At his age, he’s like an octopus — there are what seem like 20 arms waving about, grabbing at anything. The more inappropriate the better. A steak knife or hot plate? Perfect!
3.) Know your restaurants. One of our favorite restaurants to take our son to is the Jimmy’s Egg by our house. The waitresses are in constant motion, which is fun for him to watch. They also all know him and make a point to stop by the table and talk to him throughout the meal. Our little flirt loves the attention. Another upside is that we know there are lots of families there, which means lots of noise. If our son yells, it’s not going to be as big a deal as it would in a fancy dining establishment. We know sitting still and quiet for an hour or two is a lot to ask of a toddler, so we get a babysitter if that’s going to be the case.
4.) Know your child. If my son is sleepy, feeling bad or just not in the mood, I can tell he’s not going to do well eating out, so we make other arrangements. If we’re in the middle of a meal and I see my son start to rub his eyes, I know we need to ask for the check, because a full-blown tired tantrum may make an appearance. Knowing what signs to look for can help head off a bad ending to an otherwise pleasant meal.
A book making the rounds in parenting circles, “Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting” by Pamela Druckerman, has been touted as must-read observations on the difference between French and American parenting. Evidently the French parenting philosophy results in well-behaved children who sleep through the night and eat well-rounded meals. Reviews say Druckerman observes French parents eating out and having conversations while their children entertain themselves quietly. I haven’t read it yet, but am looking forward to getting a copy to see if there’s anything I can apply to our forays.
Until then, I’ll probably continue to let my son play with menus.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its stance and guidelines on infant car seats.
The AAP now advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat. It also advises that most children will need to ride in a belt-positioning booster seat until they have reached 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years of age.
The previous standard was 12 months/20 pounds as a minimum for facing backward.
To read the full report, go to www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/carseat2011.htm.
A reference guide for all age groups can be found at www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/pages/Car-Safety-Seats-Information-for-Families.aspx.
There’s the old joke when a 16-year-old gets a driver’s license that everyone better “watch out.” It’s usually followed by a laugh that the young driver doesn’t really appreciate.
Well, today my “baby” got her driver’s license. I’m sure she’ll hear plenty of remarks, some in fun, some congratulatory.
But, for my husband and me, it’s scary.
As I said, she’s our “baby.” She will always be, no matter how old she gets.
Lacking the mileage of an experienced driver, she isn’t as quick to react. And, like any driver, she can make mistakes.
After riding with her the other night, there had been a discussion of my hesitation when I told her whether a lane was clear. After we were home, and we’d destressed a bit, I sat down with her.
“The decisions you make when you’re driving are life and death decisions,” I told her. I didn’t like having the conversation, but it’s exactly what every driver needs to be told.
I remember when I first got my license, and I’m sure my driving wasn’t perfect. If it had been, my mother wouldn’t have been applying the invisible brake on her side of the car every time she rode with me.
Now, I seem to be pressing on the invisible brake when I’m in the passenger’s seat. It’s annoying to my daughter, but it’s just a reaction on my part.
Although we’re still not ready to let go and give her full reins of the car, I know this rite of passage will be helpful in the future. Those early morning band rehearsals, trips to the store for last-minute items, meeting friends … these are all reasons that another driver in the family could prove useful.
Friends and family also are encouraging. They’ve experienced first-hand how it made their schedules a little more manageable.
I’m not sure we’re ready, but she is. She is moving forward, growing.
I just want her to keep in mind the responsibility she carries with her every time she gets behind the wheel of a car. My baby’s in that car.
Toddler Programs: Come experience nature in a safe and happy environment! Your toddler will delight in our animals through crafts, activities, discovery stations, animal visitors and guided zoo excursions. Ages 2-3 and 4-5. Call for dates and times.
School’s Out Safari Day Camps: Monday, Jan. 17
Looking for a unique adventure for your children while they are home on school holidays? Join us for a day loaded with arts, crafts, games, zoo tours and animal encounters. Offers flexible drop off and pick up times.
- Meet 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the Zoo’s Education Building
- Cost per child per day is $35 and each additional sibling is $25
- Require advance registration (space is limited) and payment
- Snacks provided but children must bring their own lunch
- Ages 4-12 years
Saturday, Jan. 15 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Ages 3 and up
Brr! Tired of the cold weather? Our cold-loving animal friends aren’t! Join us for a cool afternoon of animal fun that is sure to warm your heart.
Oh, Pooh Bear!
Thursday, Jan. 20 or Saturday, Jan. 22 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
It’s a Pooh party! Celebrate 84 years of this willy-nilly bear. Enjoy crafts, snacks and a meet-n-greet with Pooh’s woodland friends.
Get Ready and Draw Art Classes
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10:30 a.m to noon
Pooper Bowl Party
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
This interactive program will give families the scoop on poop through games, crafts, stories, songs, treks and other hidden surprises.
Habitat Box Teacher Workshops: Saturday, Jan. 22 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (tundra, rainforest & grassland) and Saturday, Feb. 5 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. (wetland, temperature forest and desert)
Back by popular demand! These teacher make-n-take workshops allow you to create your very own set of classroom “Habitat Boxes”. Each box includes items, artifacts and curriculum specific to each habitat. You may sign up for one or both sessions. This workshop is appropriate for formal, non-formal and homeschool educators.
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
It’s a wild, wild world! Come explore some of our wild things while earning your “Sharing Your World with Wildlife” Bear Cub Achievement! (Bear Cub Scouts: 3rd grade)
You’ve Got the Whole World in Your Hands
Saturday, Jan. 29 from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Our earth is in trouble and only you can save it! Join us to learn how you can help while earning your “Your Living World” Wolf Cub Achievement! (Wolf Cub Scouts: 2nd grade)
All programs require pre-registration. Call 405.425.0218 for more information or to register.
Child Guidance Services of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department has some great workshops still available through the end of the year. All workshops are for parents and caregivers of young children unless otherwise specified. Pre-registration is required for all programs by calling 425-4412. All programs are FREE.
Enhancing Language and Literacy Skills in Young Children
(for parents, caregivers of children from birth to age 5)
All three workshops are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 16 – Midwest City Library
Nov. 23 – Village Library
Nov. 30 – Choctaw Library
Temper, Temper! Handling Tantrums
Both workshops are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 9 – Midwest City Library
Nov. 16 – Village Library
Both workshops are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
Nov. 9 – Warr Acres Library
Nov. 17 – Edmond Library
Lullaby & Goodnight
10:30 a.m. to noon on Dec. 3 – Warr Acres Library
3 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 15 – Edmond Library
Boosting Your Child’s Brain Power
3:30 to 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 – Ralph Ellison Library
Child Guidance Services also offers screenings in speech, language, development and health. Call 425-4412 to schedule a screening. For more information go to www.occhd.org.
Education programs abound at the Oklahoma City Zoo. And as a Zoo Friends member, I enjoy as much of these with my 4-year-old as I can. It’s a great perk for members and nonmembers alike so get ready for some fall fun with the kids!
Toddler and preschooler programs include a live animal presentation, craft, story time, songs and more. Classes are 10 to 11 a.m. and cost $12 for a child with adult Zoo Friends member, or $15 for child with adult nonmember. Additional fees apply for siblings.
Age 2: Mother Goose, Sept. 2 or 4
Age 3: R is for Rhino, Aug. 19 or 21
S is for Sea Lion, Sept. 16 or 18
Ages 4-5: Flying High, Aug. 28
Billy Goats Gruff, Sept. 25
School’s Out Safari Day Camps
If you would like somewhere fun and educational your child can enjoy during fall break or other fall days off from school, the zoo has you covered. Classes are for ages 4-12 and meet from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in the zoo’s Education Building. Cost per day is $30 per child, siblings $20 each. Advance registration and payment are required, and spots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Snacks will be provided, but children must bring their own lunch.
Dates are: Sept. 6, 7 and 24 and Oct. 21 and 22.
An upcoming family program is “Sink Your Teeth into Sharks!” and is Aug. 28 from 2 to 3 p.m. Your family can learn all about the world of sharks. Adults are free with paid child registration. Cost per child is $15 for zoo members, $18 for nonmembers. Program is for children ages 4-12.
Have any little artists in your family? Then come join local artist Lance Kelly and learn to draw animals. Basic drawing concepts are reviewed, followed by live sketching of zoo animals. Class meets in the education building and is $20 per class for one person, $5 for each additional family member. Classes are for ages 7 and older and meet from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Class dates and animal topics are:
Sept. 25: Grizzly Bear
Oct. 23: Bison
Nov. 13, Turkey
For more information or to register for any of these programs, go to okczoo.recware.com or call 425-0218.
Registration starts today (July 15) for volunteers and consignors. While volunteering may not sound like as much fun as actually shopping at the sale, let me tell you why it’s completely worth it.
70% on items AND an opportunity to shop BEFORE the public!
For those reasons alone, I signed up. For just a 3-hour shift, you get both those perks. For 6- or 9-hour shifts, you get in to the presale even earlier.
And if you consign, you can get 65% on all items sold and still get a presale pass. I know I’ll be bringing in a ton of baby/toddler items.
The fall/winter sale is open to the public Aug. 23-28 at State Fair Park. Presales are Aug. 21-22.
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .
Back in October, I wrote a post about the importance of water safety for infants and toddlers. (Click here to read that post.) In wake of another drowning, I want to reiterate the importance of taking the best safety measures we can to prevent another tragedy.
Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has for years discourage swim lessons for children age 4 and younger. But this morning, they have changed their stance. According to their news release:
“New evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. … The new guidance recommends that parents should decide whether to enroll an individual child in swim lessons based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health concerns related to pool water infections and pool chemicals.”
You can read the entire news release by clicking here.
You can also watch a segment from the “Today” show that features different ways kids learn to swim and about the Infant Swimming Resource program that is available here in Oklahoma. To watch the “Today” show May 24 clip, click here.
As the Memorial Day long weekend approaches, now is the time to get your child familiar with the water and the ways to survive if he or she were to fall in.
And remember, nothing can replace a watchful and attentive parent or guardian. Don’t take your eyes off your children for a moment if there’s water nearby. Be sure your pool has the proper fencing/barriers to prevent your child from getting to the water unattended.
For everything water safety, go the AAP website: http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/watersafety.cfm.
Have a fun, but SAFE summer.