Monday, June 23, 2008

The Last Supper

From time to time, my wife and I find it necessary to take the kids out into the world. You'd think we know by now that no good can come of this. Some trips like the grocery store or doctor's office can't be avoided. Others are optional such as going out to eat in a restaurant.

I remember a time before children when eating at a restaurant was fun and relaxing. Waiting for a table was a minor inconvenience that usually went unnoticed. I only had to worry about what I was going to eat when ordering and if something spilled on me it was generally because of something I did. Then we had kids and all that changed. Every second we have to wait, for a table or food, is an agonizing temptation of fate. Each tick of the clock counting down to the eventual eruption you know is going to happen. By the way, could restaurants put more crap on the tables? My kids aren't entertained enough by the utensils, salt, pepper, cups, saucers, sugar packets, and desert menus. All of which are far more interesting than any crayons. What should be a nice relaxing meal is like some twisted jack in the box full of monkeys on crack, except without that whimsical song to warn us.

We didn't go into this without warnings though. My parents have always been more than happy to tell the story of getting kicked out of a restaurant because of us kids. As they tell it, my sister and I got into an ice throwing battle. I can't imagine how that would have started. Yeah, I'm looking at you Dad. The big problem was that what we lacked in accuracy we more than made up for in distance. The people sitting at the adjacent tables weren't impressed. Just so you don't think my kids get their meal time misfit genes just from me, my wife's parents had some tales or warning. There was the time as a youngster she felt it necessary to tell the waitress, "you're too fat to be a cooker". While everyone was ordering, she shared this observation with the poor lady with increasing volume since no one was acknowledging what she said. Her father, while still ordering and without looking at her, gracefully reached around his young daughter's back and covered her mouth with his hand. (Have to admit I've been tempted to do the same once or twice) That one was handled well but I still don't think I'd trust any food brought to the table after that.

All this brings me to yesterday. It should have been a nice Sunday out to eat. It quickly went downhill. Upon arriving at the restaurant, a big mascot handing balloons was found to be the greeter. As I've mentioned before, my oldest doesn't respond well to people in big costumes like that. She sprinted to the booth, dove in and curled up in the corner. Once told that was the wrong booth, she repeated he Jackie Chan like display to the right spot. She would not get out of the fetal position no matter what. It was so bad that it required leaving and eating somewhere else. As an aside, she was actually so scared that she barricaded her bedroom door with chairs at bedtime. So once arriving at restaurant number two and assuring her repeatedly that mascots weren't allowed in, the actual mealtime fun started. Over the course of dinner, two drinks were spilled, one landing on their uncle, and the youngest threw up after trying a milkshake. This on top of the required fidgeting, grumbling, and crying. At one point their mom asked the waitress to quiet the crying baby at another table because she couldn't hear her own kids yelling and carrying on. A fun time for all indeed.

Overall, I'd call that trip a success though for several reasons. At no point was anyone asked to leave any eateries. The vomiting was minimal and didn't really land on anyone. No one was insulted. No innocent bystanders got pelted with ice. Most importantly, I was working so I wasn't there for any of it. The difference between pull your hair out frustrating and piss yourself funny: location, location, location.


Erin said...

You are awesome! I love it.

Wendy said...

I can just imagine your wife saying that little comment.

Plus I have sooo been there with taking your kids out to eat. It gets better though, I promise. My kids go out to eat so much, they are pros.

kelly said...

What an eloquent writer you are! Loved all the descriptions, the panic and frustration and then to find that you were absent! Funny guy! After one visit, my boys have discovered that they love Boston Pizza but only 1 out of 3 will actually eat food there. Don't know what the draw is...the giant cookie that they don't get if they don't eat? I'm baffled at times.