Dad Stuck In the Van With a Screaming Toddler Proves Parking Lot Parents Are the BEST

Parenting is just plain hard, but parenting a toddler is a whole category of difficulty unto itself. I mean, they don’t call them the “terrible twos” for nothing, and three was worse than two for me with ALL three of my kids! (Also, one of my favorite baby books, Baby 411, advises, “The terrible twos begin at 15 months.” Yeah.)

My first child was honestly WAY too easy and spoiled my husband and me rotten. Theennnnnn we had our daughter. WHOO-WHEE! Turns our we weren’t the great parents we thought we were. As a matter of fact, she was so crazy that after one sweat-inducing dinner at a restaurant when she was about 14 months old, we ceased taking the family out to dinner for THREE STRAIGHT YEARS. Not exaggerating. Eventually, we found out that in addition to her super strong-willed and feisty personality, she also  had a significant speech-language delay which caused some big social delays — part of the reason she was so hard to handle in a loud, crowded restaurant.

And also? She was a typical crazy toddler PLUS that. Whew.

When I saw this dad’s Facebook post about a time-out in the minivan with HIS crazy toddler daughter after a restaurant visit gone wrong, I could TOTALLY relate, and I knew I had to share it with you!

I’m stuck in the van with my toddler. We went out to dinner as a family, and she had a meltdown because mom wouldn’t let…

Posted by No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog on Saturday, March 4, 2017

“I’m stuck in the van with my toddler,” says dad blogger Clint Edwards. “We went out to dinner as a family, and she had a meltdown because mom wouldn’t let her throw chicken strips. So she screamed, and screamed, and kicked and kicked, and since I was the only one finished with my meal, I had the pleasure of dragging her out of Red Robin.”

Have you ever dragged your screaming toddler out of a restaurant or a park? I sure have, sweating like a pig and enduring “those” looks from strangers along the way. The looks that say “Why can’t she control her kid? What a brat!”

Edwards continues:


I carried her past the bar and everyone stared at me, most of them childless, I assumed. No one with children would give me that straight faced, lip twisted, look that seems to say, “if you can’t control your kid, then don’t go out.”

Well… no. I can’t control her.

Not all the time.

Not yet.

She’s two and it’s going to take years to teach her how to act appropriately in public, and the only way I am ever going to teach that is to take her out and show her what’s right and wrong. By saying no a million times, letting her throw a fit, and telling her no again.

These lessons take patience, hard work, and real world experiences, and I’m sorry to those at the bar who got irritated by my child’s fit, but you are part of this practice. Your parents did the same with you, and that’s how you now know how to recognize when a child does something irritating in a restaurant. It’s how you learned to look at a situation and say, “That parent needs to control their kids.”

It’s how you learned to be a respectable person.

I get it. Kids are irritating when they are loud in a restaurant. I know. I’m living it. But before you get angry and judgmental, realize that what you are witnessing is not bad parenting, but rather, parents working hard to fix the situation.

You are looking at what it takes to turn a child into a person.

BOOM. Parental mic drop.
I must say I agree with Edwards. These lessons DO take patience and hard work. Kids don’t jump out of the womb KNOWING how to act at a restaurant, and only a teeny-weeny percentage of 2-year-old are gonna get it right. But our parental patience and persistence with teaching them ensures that they will soon get it, and remember it. That, as Edwards says, is what all those childless people gaping at your screaming toddler don’t know…yet.
So have confidence, parents. The day will come when the people at the table next to you will overhear your child’s cute remarks and genteel manners instead of their screams…and when they compliment your kid, you can be super smug about it! (Kidding, kidding…but hang in there!)

Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.

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