I’m Not Anti-Social, I Just Have A Toddler

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Lots of people complain about misbehaving children in public. When people think of those out-of-control, obnoxious kids running around, I’m pretty sure they are referring to toddlers. From about eighteen months to five years old (Lord, I’m hoping it ends then), children are simply unpredictable. One day, they’re adorable little angels. The next day, they’re dancing with the devil. Toddlers are prone to emotional outbursts and incessant energy. Really, they are not made to sit still and quiet for hours at a time.

Yet every once in a while, we try to ask them to. Sometimes, they surprise you with their control. And others they surprise you with the level of their insanity. This weekend, we had a wedding to attend out of town. My husband had to work, so I was the only parent. We were in a different state, so I couldn’t really get a babysitter. And the wedding was for two people who I care about very deeply, so I didn’t want to miss it. There was just no way around it. I had to play Russian Roulette. I had to take my toddler to a wedding and pray that all of our hard work and long talks had paid off.

I would love to tell you all that my daughter was perfect and sat with her hands folded daintily in her lap. Unfortunately, after a three hour car ride, the excitement of a beach wedding and the thrill of all her cousins around her, my daughter had a little too much of that pre-schooler passion coursing through her veins. She was bouncing in her seat, giggling uncontrollably and generally forgetting all of the wonderful manners we outlined before the wedding began. Before it got distracting to those around us, I simply had to get up and take her away so that we didn’t disturb the proceedings.

Needless to say, my daughter won’t be attending any more weddings this summer. She is obviously not ready yet. And I felt awful for making my cousin’s wedding more hectic. But what am I supposed to tell people who invite us to their weddings, Christenings or otherwise serious events? I’m not anti-social, I have a toddler.

Having young kids shouldn’t mean that you have to stay home every weekend, but I’m hoping that it gives me an opportunity to skip on events that aren’t kid-friendly. The problem for parents of young children is that our childless friends often resent our disappearance from the social scene. It can put a huge damper on a friendship when you can’t socialize in the ways that you used to. Childless friends don’t want to have every get-together at Chuck E. Cheese and parents don’t feel comfortable getting a babysitter every weekend so that they can go out with their friends.

A little understanding is necessary on both sides. As the lovely Lilit Marcus will be discussing on The Today Show July 25th, parents and those without kids can stay close friends. Lilit and I are wonderful proof of that! But she has to deal with my daughter crying and interrupting our conversations on a frequent basis. And I have to remember that there is life outside of mommyhood to talk about. Both of us have to deal with the fact that I might not be out and about quite as frequently as I used to be.

The toddler years are rough. From the terrible two’s to the atrocious three’s, it’s difficult to decide when to take your kids out into the world and when to tuck them away at home. But hopefully, those around you will understand. And you won’t have any out-of-town weddings for a couple years.