Taking kids to public places is really really hard. And not to sound condescending, but it really is one of those situations where, if you don’t have kids, you just have no idea.
Lateness is my personal pet peeve. I promised myself that just because I became a mother, I would not become someone who keeps others waiting. It’s disrespectful and rude, and in most cases unecessary. Where is is unavoidable, there is absolutely no reason why you cant let the person know as soon as you know, or if you don’t have a definite ETA, keep them posted. In this age of skype on our phones, free texts, and public mobile charging points, there really arent many excuses left for keeping someone waiting without explanation.
Before R, I was happy to turn up half an hour early (armed with a novel) rather than risk being 5 minutes late. The same was true when I had my newborn. He would sleep, or eat, or sit in the sling, and I would read my book, or gaze at his tiny face, and time would pass. This newborn phase is also known affectionately by me as ‘Starbucks age.’ The few months where your baby is happy to follow you around everywhere, fit in with your plans, and be generally unobtrusive to your social life.
Warning to those of you who are currently enjoying this honeymoon period… It passes. From about 11 months (7 for most kids) it became impossible to take R to a public place without some serious pre-thought and planning.
If we meet at 11.30.. I can amuse him for 15 minutes, and then feed him at 11.45… and hopefully if I shake the buggy enough he could sleep until 1.30… and that gives us two hours, at least one of which i can concentrate fully on what you’re saying during.
Meeting at 10.. Ok.. I can take with this pot and lid, which will keep him entertained for a half hour possibly, and then take some snacks for midmorning in case he starts grizzling, and hopefully he will find being in a public place entertaining and he could rip up some napklins for a few minutes at some point.. and I suppose if worse comes to worst we’l have to have our drinks to take away and walk around the mall?
I’m sorry. Can we just meet in the library?
Such is life. I want to see my friends, and I appreciate that the ones without kids arent interested in meeting me at baby yoga or riding up and down the train line all day, (to make him as happy as he is below) so I try my hardest to make it work. I am blessed with a cheerful baby, who doesnt mind me snatching the odd hour of social life which doesnt involve soft play, and most importantly, I am always armed with a bag of cheerios.
But if I am making this effort, and I have spent an hour or more making sure I am fully prepared for ‘Public Place Time’ the very least I can expect is that whoever I am meeting is on time.
Pre-R, It annoyed me. Post-R, it ruins my day, and potentially our friendship. We arrange to meet at 11. The second I walk in the door, the clock begins. We have a limited time where R is going to be happy to endure an activity which doesnt centre around his enjoyment. So I have planned appropriately, I wont arrive before 10.58, if necessary walking up and down the road outisde, maximising the time I can spend with my friend.
11.01, you are late. I am playing with my son, keeping him amused with songs and actions and silly faces. 11.05, out comes the stacking cups, and I help him build towers. Maybe I get a text from you saying you’re running late. Too late to tell me that, because I cant put him back in the buggy and take him for a walk to keep him amused, not only would we lose our seats and I’ve already got my drink, but also he would not appreciate being taken in and out like a jack in the box. 11.15, he is already trying to crawl away from our sofas, and taking things from a neighbours handbag. 11.20, you are ‘almost there’ but our twenty minutes of happy playtime are up. R is clearly frustrated, and by the time you walk in the door at 11.23, what you would call “only 20 minutes late” has taken up most of our alloted chat time. Out come the snacks, even though it’s nearly lunch time, and my son, who has picked up on my own frustration, manages another 15 minutes of fractuous conversation before we need to leave.
Your response, intimated or otherwise, “This is proof. Babies ruin social lives.” And to some extent you are right. We are never going to get that easy lazy 3 hour chat in the middle of the day, where we order more drinks and take our time flitting from subject to subject. But I’ve made it pretty easy for you to get an hour of my (almost undivided) attention. Just do me the courtesy of turning up on time.