Every so often our extended family convinces us to eat in a nice restaurant. All of us. With the kids. Every time we say "Yes" and then give ourselves a reassuring pep talk that goes something like this:
"Hey, the kids are older now, it will be easier than last time. Nothing to worry about. This time it will be different!" And so we go.
Like last weekend.
So we get seated and the baby decides that he is NOT going in the highchair.
He decides this loudly.
Already I'm sweating. I nervously look around the restaurant to see if there are other kids. There are a few so we aren't the only ones. Just the only loud ones. I promise crayons and he sits.
Because of his reaction I'm unprepared and he manages to grab a fork and a plate.
He nearly hits my husband in the head, who is already talking to his brother. Thankfully, I get it back before anything breaks.
Once I've cleared the baby zone on the table I direct my attention to my four year old who has been patiently waiting for crayons.
I get out some crayons and paper and the menus arrive.
I don't actually get to open my menu because I'm playing the game of baby drop the crayon and mama will pick it up. I have to pick it up because if I don't he says, "UH OH! CRAYON!" repeatedly with a sad face and the whole restaurant looks at me expectantly.
So I open the menu when the waitress arrives and I order something quickly. I also order a glass of wine.
My glass of wine arrives and I savor it for five whole seconds. The kids are occupied and happy. Wow! It really is different this time!
Until my four year old has decided he has had enough of crayons. Does he want a book? No. A toy? No. He shields everything I have in my mama bag arsenal. I'm out. I need backup.
So I throw daggers at the back of my husband's head with my eyes. He feels them. He turns his attention to our four year old.
We switch spots.
Usually, my husband is very good at coming up with things to keep the little ones entertained. This time however, I'm not sure what he is up to.
Until I see that he is folding a paper airplane.
A paper airplane. In the hands of a four year old. In a nice restaurant.
Before I can stop it, it is in the air. His throw combined with my husband's (now apparent) skill at paper airplane crafting and it glides across the restaurant.
And hits a lady on the back of her head.
It startles her and she turns to look at us with that half smirk, half dissappointed in society look on her face. I apologize but all I really want to do is point at my husband and say, "he did it".
Fortunately, the waitress is heading to our table with appetizers.
Now a good, career server understands the concept of the clear space on a table that is the baby zone. It is there for a reason, that reason being that the baby will grab everything within his reach. An experienced server knows not to put spillable, sharp, fragile or hot things directly within the parameters of a cleared baby zone.
Our waitress is not a career server.
So when she plops the piping hot basket of fries down directly in front of him in the clear baby zone, I am ready to run interference and I push it farther away.
Now these fries are seriously hot. Too hot for the kids. But they are hungry. Fries! Now!
So I blow on one. The speed of which I can cool these things down is not fast enough for the kids. Hungry! More fries! Now!
So my mother-in-law helps out with the cooling.
Meanwhile, all the men are doing this:
And soon the fries have cooled on their own so I stop blowing on them and can actually eat some.
But they are gone.
This is okay though, because the waitress arrives with my entrée! I can eat!
followed immediately by…
Yes, they filled up on lemonade and fries. It was a necessary diversion at the time but now it has backfired. They are done already and ready to go.
Fortunately, the rest of the family helps out and the baby is passed from lap to lap and the four year old circles the table chatting with everyone.
Everyone tells me to "go ahead and eat" while they entertain the kids.
I feel bad though, knowing that their food is getting cold so I inhale the food as fast as I can.
I don't actually taste it. I finish as fast as possible and take the kids back from whomever's food is getting cold.
Finally, it is over. Receipts have been signed and we are walking out the door. I wonder if the whole restaurant breathes a sigh of relief as we leave. I certainly do.
On the way to the car, someone suggests doing it again soon. They say they had a great time.
And I always say "Yes!"
Because, you know, next time it will be different!