Seven years ago, my husband and I flew across the country to Vancouver with our then three- and one-and-a-half year old sons to attend a friend’s wedding. Arriving late the day before the wedding (mistake #1) we failed to make arrangements for child care for the ceremony (mistake #2) so we decided to bring them with us (mistake #3). After a quick snack at a friend’s home and a forty-five minute drive to the golf course where the ceremony was to be held, we woke the boys, who had both fallen asleep in the car, quickly hustled them to our seats (bag of toys in hand: look at us super parents, planing ahead!) to await the arrival of the beautiful bride at a lovely outdoor ceremony starting at three p.m.
Just as the music started, a small voice sounded from the child sitting on my lap: “I’m hungry”.
“You just ate.”
“No I didn’t. I’m hungry. I wanna go back to the car!”
“Honey, we can’t go back now. The bride will be here in…look! There she is!”
“I DON’T WANNA STAY HERE! I WANT TO EAT SOMETHING!”
“Shhh! We’ll get a snack in just…”
Eldest Child started to scream so loudly that I was worried he’d cause a tectonic shift (it being the west coast, this was a concern). I promptly threw him on my hip and ran as quickly as I could away from the ceremony, as the bride made her way up the flower strewn centre aisle to the sounds of a string quartet and a three-year old’s sobbing. I spent the entire ceremony in the parking lot trying to get him calmed down, while feeding him Vegetable Thins because those were the only snacks we’d thought to bring with us (Huge, screaming, neon-lit parenting mistake #4) Luckily, one of the golfers playing nearby took pity on us (after investigating to ensure that I wasn’t actually beating the child who was screaming his head off) and went and got some cool water from the clubhouse, and that helped.
It is hard to believe, but it’s true: it took three years, a 3300 km plane ride, a total change of scenery and schedule, and a three-hour time difference (for which we forgot to account, totally forgetting that 3 pm PST is, oh -noon — in Toronto*) for us to learn that Eldest Child is just about the most inconsolable, unreasonable, most colossally hangry person alive if he isn’t properly and promptly fed on schedule.
All those years, and we just thought he was difficult. Daily.
Every parent has one: that moment as a (sometimes, but clearly not always) new parent where you do something so incredibly stupid that you can’t believe that you haven’t seen yourself on a reality TV show. Inspired by this series of posts that the Globe and Mail has been running for the past few weeks, we’ll be sharing our cringe-worthy rookie mistakes with all of you. We hope you’ll take a moment to share yours with us.
*Author’s note: Mistakes clearly happen, and not just parenting ones. If you’re paying attention, you’ll note that 3 pm Vancouver time is indeed 6 pm Toronto time: we we’re late for dinner, not lunch. Eldest Child was still miserable.