So my darling husband, father of my beautiful children, decided that instead of getting take out on a Saturday night with our neighbors, that he would talk the other darling husband into going to a restaurant that did not have prizes come with their kids meals or a play castle. The only enticement to the meal was that Kids Eat Free. We like that word, 'free.'
I have said it before, and I will say it again, I do not enjoy taking my children out to eat. It stresses me beyond belief. Too much down time. Too much waiting. Too much indigestion. Too much whispering of bribes and threats to my children from my lips regarding their behavior. I have to be on high alert at all times, all senses have to be fully functioning at all times, perfectly. I have to catch the fork that is about to go flying across the table that my child had no idea was wrapped in the napkin they have to grab immediately upon sitting down. I have to have items to deter them. These items must be specifically chosen items as to not evoke tantums of jealous rage, emit loud sounds, or must be of a precise size so that they are not at risk to dump beverages all over the table when played with or opened. I have to make sure all items that are not to be touched by their grimey and grabby hands are out of reach, or hidden. Kendall loves to play with salt and pepper shakers, pretending they are people, again she lives in a land of imagination about 90% of the day. These have to either be across the table or hidden behind the wine list or an all out dramatization will ensue with salt and pepper flying everywhere when things get a little heated between Mr. salt and Mrs. pepper.
Let me first be honest and say this, and I fully admit it, if it is within reason, and it keeps my child well behaved in the restaurant and does not disturb anyone other than me, I will let them do it. For instance. Yesterday when preparing to leave for this extravaganza Kendall and her best friend Sarah came upstairs in some dresses from the dress up bin that every girl needs, Kendall with her initial outfit on beneath, Sarah with no outfit underneath but wearing dressy shoes two sizes too small so her feet were all scrunched up and she was forced to walk silly. They proclaimed that they wanted to wear these beautiful outfits to the restaurant. To avoid a meltdown before we even leave the house ensuring a terrible meal for all, they were permitted to wear them, much to Sarah's mommy's dismay. My dear friend Steph announced at our arrival to all who could hear her, 'they decided to be dressed in dress ups,' or something to that effect, because I mean it might have not been evident by the regalia the two girls were demonstrating by prancing around and twirling their skirts that were way too short, and way out of season.
Now hostess' can see a crowd like ours coming from a mile away. Most restaurants have one or two tables designated for people like us, the people that bring more than one child to a restaurant. This girl led us to a table in our little area which assured happiness to all patrons.
It then begins. The waitress brings crayons with big blank sheets of paper. A fabulous idea for the child who can draw freehand without having preset pictures to draw within. What do my children do? Pick them up and dump them, begin to tear the paper around them off into the tiniest of threads, instant mess of crayola.
Again, do I look at a menu? I get approximately 1.5 minutes to look at a menu. I need to decide on the way to the establishment what I might want...salad, sandwich, entree, so on and so forth. So then when I arrive I look for the header that fits what I previously chosen, and scan, picking the one that has the most key ingredients I would enjoy, all while keeping an eye on the cup of juice with the non, non spill lid my child is now attempting to drink from. My children are offered only 2 meal choices if that, most of the time I choose for them. Kendall however, is learning the fun in decision making, so I cut loose a little with her. The 'hmmm...I think I might like this, or no maybe that,' went on for about 10 minutes. Only to make her angry when it arrived because it was not in sandwich form with a 'shiny bun,' like mine with a fancy toothpick holding it together. Immediately I proclaim to the young man that brought our platters, 'shiny roll with a fancy toothpick, pronto, she might sky rocket here.'
After the meal was finished the children, two mine, decided it might be fun to chase each other around the table. So this went on, and on, and on. Arms were yanked by parents to reign a given child in to whisper sweet threats that if the yelling does not cease they will never ever play with the other one again until they are 43. One might think, well this will surely get the waitress to bring our check that much quicker, but no, as is always the case we sit and wait. And wait. At this point the laughter and shrieking is so intense that two parents are initiated as the ones that rally in the troops and direct them to the car, never ever an easy task, most especially when revved up beyond belief.
I felt at the end like I opened my mouth, picked up my plate and dumped in the contents in .2 seconds, and I felt exhausted. However, I must admit it was good to break up the norm, and we did have fun, not as much fun as it would have been childless, I might have even gotten a drink. Whoa! Now I am talking all sorts of crazy. Next Father's Day, McDonalds. I will even let him get the most expensive meal.
Again, you say, and you want to add to your brood? I figure it this way, another bonus to more children, the more kids, the less chance I have of having them come with us out to eat. And maybe, just maybe, once every 2 years getting a date to a restaurant with my husband where I can just sit and look at the menu for 30 minutes if I wanted to. Where I can actually eat a meal without additional hands picking at my meal. Or I could play 'footsies,' instead of kicking my husband under the table which means to move and grab the pony tail that has just flown past him at top speed on her 5th lap of the table.