Friday, August 06, 2010

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wanting desperately to avoid restaurant baby tantrums

Speaking as someone who came out of the womb toilet trained, knowing how to read and write, and perfectly behaved from day one, I've got to say that crying babies in restaurants just drive me a bit mad.

Now, of course, I don't mean a little boohoo or a bit of whining. I don't mean a two-minute fit that is quickly stifled by parents who are on top of their child's behaviour. I don't mean a little bit of sibling rivalry that is normal between tots. "Mom... Billy's breathing on me!" "Mom... Suzy's blinking too loudly!"

I mean a full 100-per-cent first-class meltdown that lasts half an hour. In a restaurant. With a bunch of other people there. Actually, it was a pub, not a restaurant, chosen because a group of adult friends wanted to get together to eat and talk. We thought a pub would be safe. It wasn't.

Now, I really do feel for the young couple whose little girl was doing her best human imitation of Mount Etna, the famous Italian volcano. The crying, the screaming, the whining, the face stained with tears. She was inconsolable and was obviously over-tired. After all, it was well after 7 p.m. and for some reason she was dragged to an adult pub with her parents. Again, I try not to judge, but wow.

It's a times like this that I'd simply like to wiggle my nose like Samantha on Bewitched and have my mother appear next to the screaming kid. Usually, one look from my mother was all it took to make my brother, sister or me quit acting up. More often than not, this was achieved by one of two ways.

First, "If you don't stop crying, I'll give you something to cry about." This was actually quite effective. I don't remember her ever following through, but if you were in the middle of a tantrum or complete toddler meltdown, the last thing you actually wanted was something to make you feel worse.

Or, "Disappear!" This was usually uttered in a hushed tone through tightly pursed lips. Eyes squinted. She had one nerve left and you were standing on it. Now, why such an angelic and perfect child such as me would have required such a reprimand from the woman who gave me life is beyond me.

Like I said, I was born already toilet trained and knowing how to read. What else could a mother ask for? Oh, and did I mention that when my mother changed me, she found a diaper full of $20 bills, not that other yucky stuff that other less classy babies were leaving for their mothers. I mean, really. How uncouth of them. I guess my entrepreneurship gene was dominant even back then.

So, while I couldn't relate to the little girl's frustrated parents in the pub, I did feel sorry for them . . . up to a point.

After a half hour of screaming, though, my nerves wore thin. Being the only person at the table who hadn't raised a baby, though, the others certainly had more compassion than I did. Sure, I've been around kids having a stellar meltdown, but not while in a restaurant. And not for 30 minutes.

Between them, the parents at the table had raised seven children, so were well versed in toddler meltdowns. In fact, I don't even think they heard the squawking going on at the table next to us. Their immunity had been built up after years of raising their own children. They were vaccinated against getting annoyed by tantrums.

I, however, was not vaccinated against this particular condition, so sat there seething - but not right away. But after a half hour of screaming, I mean, come on! I've seen parents take kids having meltdowns out of grocery stores, restaurants and malls before. Maybe these two parents were in desperate need of a night out. Maybe they were just driving through town on their way somewhere. Maybe they were new to town and didn't know anyone to babysit. I understand. I really was trying to have compassion and not let it bother me.

But my nerves were shot after a half hour of screaming, I have to admit. Finally, the mother took her daughter out of the pub and back to the car. Since they'd already ordered their food (why, I don't know... the kid had already been screaming for 10 minutes when they ordered), the father sat there alone and ate while the waiter boxed up mom's meal. I did feel bad for him - honestly - but was relieved by the silence.

But didn't we have the right to a nice meal without a screaming child in our ears? I know that my own friends would have had the baby out the door after five minutes. You can tell when your child is way beyond the point of no return. These parents seemed either desperate to stick it out - much to my chagrin - or didn't have a choice... which is where I tried desperately to find some compassion inside me.

It's a difficult situation. Obviously, we all had the right to be there. Me, my friends, the parents who were tired and frustrated. The baby who was inconsolable. The other diners who were annoyed. It wasn't a pleasant experience for anyone, I'm sure.

There's a part of me that wanted to tell them to take their poor exhausted daughter home and put her to bed. There's a part of me that wanted to simply try to ignore it and let them try to eat their meals.

But there's also that part of me that just wanted to stomp over, tell them, "I'll give you people something to cry about!" and then purse my lips together and hoarsely whisper, "Disappear!"

I think the next time I'll just order take-out.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

This week's Hump Day column...

... is about a recent night out dining with friends at a local pub. Unfortunately, a young couple at another table decided to take their young exhausted daughter with them, too. For 30 minutes, she went on a wailing tantrum. Oyyy! I tried to be compassionate! I really did!

Check out this week's Hump Day column in the editorial section of today's Moncton Times & Transcript. It will be posted online here tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tribute Dinner in Fredericton to benefit military families in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

The True Patriot Love Foundation will be holding a tribute dinner in Fredericton, N.B., in October to raise funds for charities that support military families in N.B. and P.E.I. Attending the announcement on Friday in Fredericton were, from left to right: Colonel Michael Pearson, base commander, CFB Gagetown; New Brunswick premier Shawn Graham; Elisabeth Rybak, Canadian Forces Liaison Council chair for N.B. and event chair; federal revenue minister Keith Ashfield; Bob Bateman, Canadian Forces Liaison Council chair for P.E.I.; Julie Fotheringham, executive director, True Patriot Love Foundation.

The True Patriot Love Foundation will hold a major Tribute Dinner in Fredericton in October to benefit several military charities, including the Canadian Forces Benevolent Fund, the Military Family Resource Centres and the Wounded Warriors Fund. Funds raised will go toward helping military families and wounded soldiers in both New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

The Foundation made the announcement last week at a news conference attended by dignitaries including Keith Ashfield, Minister of National Revenue, Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and Minister for the Atlantic Gateway; New Brunswick premier Shawn Graham; Col. Michael Pearson, Base Commander of CFB Gagetown; Julie Fotheringham, executive director of the True Patriot Love Foundation; and Elisabeth Rybak, chair of this year’s event and provincial chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council.

The Tribute Dinner event will be held Thursday, October 28, at the Delta Fredericton Hotel with funds being raised through ticket sales, sponsorships and an auction of military helmets painted and decorated by local artists.

Minister Ashfield, who is also the Member of Parliament for the area that includes CFB Gagetown, the largest military training base in the Commonwealth, hopes the proceeds from the gala will ease the hardships faced by some military families and injured soldiers. “New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have long and storied military histories, and I’m sure we will step up to the plate to show these families and soldiers how much we care. Our entire country owes them our gratitude and support, especially when they have paid a heavy price.”

“New Brunswickers have always been strong supporters of our military and CFB Gagetown is a major economic engine for our province,” said Premier Graham. “Our compassion and support for these families and soldiers in need will definitely shine through and I’m positive the gala event will be a huge success. We’re here for them.”

Col. Pearson says that funds raised will have a direct positive impact on military families. “I’ve seen first-hand the tremendous pain that these families go through whether it is because of a soldier killed in action, a soldier who’s been injured and faces a long or life-long recuperation, or the challenge of constantly adjusting to new surroundings with multiple moves. While military life can be tremendously rewarding, we must also recognize that it isn’t always easy and that some soldiers and their families pay very dearly for their commitment to keeping Canada safe.”

The three charities that will benefit from funds raised at the October gala event are:

1) Canadian Forces Benevolent Fund: supports service personnel and/or spouses and the unique circumstances of military families when they face unforeseen financial difficulties.

2) Military Family Resource Centres: autonomous non-profit organizations that provide consistent services to all military families, including support groups for families, children’s activities and community integration programs.

3) Wounded Warriors Fund: supports all Canadian Forces members wounded on operations at the outset of their healing process. The fund aims to improve the general morale and welfare of the soldiers and their families.

“The True Patriot Love Foundation is excited to hold its first regional Tribute Dinner in Fredericton,” Foundation executive director Fotheringham said. “We are truly grateful to our supporters, because even heroes need heroes!”

“The success of this event will have a direct positive impact on the lives of military families in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island,” event chair Rybak said. “People can support Tribute Dinner 2010 in a number of ways, either by purchasing a ticket to attend, sponsoring the event, bidding on one of our helmets during the auction, or purchasing a family tree sculpture. We’re looking forward to seeing many people there.”

Tickets are $200 each and are available now by calling 1-877-990-0949 or by visiting the True Patriot Love Foundation website at For information on sponsoring the event or the helmet auction, call Elisabeth Rybak at 506-962-0802.

About True Patriot Love Foundation

True Patriot Love Foundation (TPLF) was founded in 2009 by a group of citizens who want to make a positive contribution to the lives of Canadian military personnel and their families – to serve those who serve on behalf of our nation. The Foundation has grown through generous contributions from patriotic Canadians, corporations and other organizations.

TPLF supports funds and charities dedicated to supporting the Canadian Military and their families. Through these charities and funds, we are able to help families quickly reunite in times of illness, injury and death, access rehabilitation and counselling related to injury-induced life adjustments and support the needs of the children of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and our fallen comrades. Our funding complements and enhances, but does not replace, existing public and non-public programs. EVEN HEROES NEED HEROES.

For more information, please contact:

Julie Fotheringham

Monday, August 02, 2010

Happy New Brunswick Day!

Many provinces across Canada are enjoying a civic holiday today. Here in New Brunswick, it's New Brunswick Day -- a day for celebrating our great province!

Sunday, August 01, 2010