We have had issues with eating out with Cara since she was a tiny infant. Actually, that’s not totally right. Other people have had issues with us eating out with Cara since she was a tiny infant.
When Cara was an itty bitty baby, I would breastfeed her when we went to dinner. Since I hadn’t yet really gotten into the groove of the whole “breastfeeding in public” thing, I was VERY discreet and would request a booth in the back [and how about a curtain while you're at it]. Despite my shame tinged REALLY covered up breastfeeding, I got a myriad of nasty looks and whispers and a lot of shaking of heads.
Once Cara got a bit older and I acquired a few more brass balls, I didn’t care where we were in the restaurant and would feed her anywhere we were eating. I figured that if the way I had been doing it was eliciting such a crappy response then acting like I wasn’t embarrassed [cause I wasn't any longer] and feeding Cara like I normally did would get the same amount of shitty looks.
I was right.
BUT, we weren’t stuck in a corner [nobody puts Baby in the corner] and Cara wasn’t stuck with a freakin’ blanket over her head [which she despised]. I was more comfortable with the whole situation and screw the looks that we got. My kid was hungry and the only alternative to breastfeeding her was to not breastfeed her which would mean that she would ruin everyone’s dinner with her earsplitting screams.
I was thinking of everyone really because I’m that cool.
Once Cara started eating solid foods, we ditched the breastfeeding while out because she was much more interested in eating off of our plates. One thing though that she was NOT interested in was a highchair. I blame this on the fact that she didn’t use a highchair at home. We lacked a dinning room table and ate around the coffee table. So, Cara was used to eating standing up or usually sitting in one of our laps.
When we would turn down the hostess’s offer of a highchair we were always met with an incredulous look. It usually took three times of telling people that we did not in fact need a highchair OR booster seat: first the hostess, then our waiter and finally the manager. Cara was content to sit on Tucker’s lap and color and we didn’t see anything wrong with that.
As Cara has gotten older, she has become much more mobile and will occasionally stand next to her dad in the booth. But, she doesn’t bounce in the seat, scream, or throw things. She eats her food [usually], steals drinks of our sweet tea and is generally a surprisingly quiet toddler. I am confident that if Cara were sitting in a booster seat during all of this then we would have those creepy old people coming up to us to tell us what a “good baby” we have.
That has never happened and I have a feeling that never will.
Because even though we may not have the toddler who paints the walls with Daliesque creations made from catchup and mashed potatoes, we still get the unapproving looks and nasty whispers where the people won’t meet your gaze.
Maybe it all boils down to the fact that in both situations, we were going against the status quo. In the first situation, I suppose that people thought that I should be either feeding Cara from a bottle or feeding her in the bathroom. Fuck a bunch of that. And in the second situation I can only assume that if Cara were sitting in a highchair then everything would be a-ok with the world.
So, while this may not seem like your classic “dinner out with kids” horror story, going out to eat was a point of great anxiety for me until I finally got over the looks and stares and started enjoying my family.