Sunday, August 10, 2008

Why we don't go to restaurants

Everyone warned me that motherhood brings on selective memory. For example, about .00872 seconds after delivering, you will forget about all of the ails of the last nine months and begin telling people (especially other women) what an easy pregnancy you had.

No one is trying to be deliberately deceptive; it’s necessary to ensure survival of the species. The same is true with many aspects of motherhood. In order to stay sane and get through life, you need to forget some of the hard facts about your children’s behavior. Case in point: restaurants. Every time we go to a restaurant with the kids, it’s hugely stressful.

Take today.

We took a cruise through the country. It was a lovely day and we meandered along, stopping here and there until we were a good distance from home.

The snacks I packed were long gone, and it was lunchtime. We tried for a deli or pizza place, but no luck. The best we could come up with out in the sticks was a little pub-like restaurant in an old farmhouse. The menu was family friendly and they had about two dozen high chairs stacked up by the door, so in we went.

It began well enough. Since this was an old house, there were multiple dining rooms and the hostess sat us in an empty one. Peanut happily colored on the kiddie placemat and Loaf was engulfed shuffling the sugars and Sweet ‘n Lows. But things went down hill very quickly. The milk I ordered for the girls came in cups with straws stuck in the center of them.

Now, a Smarter Mom, a mom with Long Term Memory, would have immediately transferred Loaf’s milk into a sippy cup. But I am not that mom. And in less than two minutes, we watched helplessly as Loaf tossed said cup to the floor. Milk splattered and a large pool formed under her highchair. Since we were in there alone, we began mopping it up, grabbing napkins from every empty place setting around us. Still there was milk – a lot of it – left on the floor. I spied a stocking shelf in the corner loaded with napkins, grabbed about 50 of them, and soaked up the rest of the mess. I stashed the clean extras in my purse while Mark walked out of the dining room carrying the milk-soaked napkins cupped in both hands (I’m still not quite sure what he did with them, but he returned empty handed, which was good enough for me).

Over what I thought I was sure to be the worst moment of our outing, I sat back in my chair, only to notice that in the chaos, Peanut had wrapped her lips around the saltshaker and was sucking salt out like a vacuum. I immediately thought about the number of germy hands that had touched that shaker over its lifespan (STOP! Stop thinking about that! Got it? STOP!) not to mention the negative health effects of too much salt.

I snatched the shaker away and tucked it on the corner of the table to the right of my placemat (along with the ketchup bottle, my drink, Mark’s drink, and most of the silverware). I started wondering how I was going to find room for my plate with all this crap stacked out of The Child Zone.

With the focus back on Peanut for a second, Loaf had grabbed one of the crayons, peeled off the wrapper and was chomping away on it. Her lips were coated with bits of blue wax.

As Mark swabbed her with yet another napkin from our secret stash, the hostess walked in with another party and seated them one table away. “Miss, we have no napkins,” one asked. I instinctively looked at the ceiling.

As they settled in, Peanut suddenly piped up at the top of her voice, “ANTS! Look Mommy, ants!”


She was excitedly pointing at an army of tiny ants drawn on the back of kiddie placemat (uh – maybe not the best choice?). I said in my louder than normal “I want the people at the next table to hear me but I don’t want them to think I’m trying to let them hear me” voice, “OH, YES! ANTS! ANTS ON YOUR PLACEMAT. HOW CUTE. RIGHT THERE, JUST DRAWN ON YOUR PLACEMAT. JUST DRAWN THERE. YEP. ANT DRAWINGS.”

Good God, where was the food?

Finally, it arrived. And for a few minutes, aside from the occasional ding of silverware hitting the floor, there was peace at the Gav table. Then Peanut had some type of coughing fit—deep hacking coughs. The people at the other table looked over suspiciously.

“Too much salt, Mommy.” (Says the girl who only moments ago was sucking it straight from the shaker.)

Peanut was eating French fry after French fry off my plate, while her $6 turkey sandwich (half of which was cut into cubes on Loaf’s plate) went largely untouched. And Loaf was doing even worse, refusing to eat at all. Mark was busy playing the airplane game with her, but she literally wasn’t biting. He managed to get in a chunk of tomato. And then suddenly, with a loud “POOT” sound, it came flying back out, followed by a “SPLUCK” as it landed on the floor next to her chair.

I got up and grabbed a Styrofoam box from the stocking shelf and dumped the remains of her sandwich into it. Upon returning, Loaf told me - rather loudly - "Mommy, I gotta use the POTTY. I gotta POOP."

The people next to us shot us another suspicious look.

I scooped her up and went into the ladies room, which was just off our dining room. In the time it took to go, Peanut and Mark finished eating and were standing outside the rest room. I walked out. “The whole hallway stinks,” Mark hissed. He was right. In addition to losing the insect themed kiddie mats, this place needs better ventilation in the ladies room. But really, that was the least of my concerns. I was beaten. A broken woman. Utterly defeated. I walked back to our table to grab my purse and surveyed the destruction.

Bits of food were all over the table and floor. In the center of the table rose the Mt. Everest of rumpled greasy napkins. I tidied up as best as I could, shoved a couple more bites of my unfinished lunch into my mouth, gulped some water and walked out.

We left the waitress a 30 percent tip, the least we could do given the mess.

If the events of today’s lunch were to remain as fresh and sharp forever as they are right now, we probably wouldn’t eat out again for 15 years. But they will fade in time, and we will venture out again.

Which is why I’ve put this experience in writing—on the internet—where it will remain on my permanent Mom record. Next time, I’ll have no excuse.


What about you? Do you have any restaurant horror stories to share? Write a post about it for today’s PBN Blog Blast, sponsored by Burger King.

You might win a $250 VISA check card to take the family out to dinner. Or hire a baby sitter so that just you and your Significant Other can enjoy a meal in peace.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.



Anonymous xup said...

I think instead of taking them to restaurants less, you should take them more often, so they learn how to act in a restaurant and so it won't seem like such a weird, new thing. It's funny how kids who can behave quite well at home at the dinner table get all wonky at other people's tables or in restaurants. Every so often I'm glad mine's almost grown

6:00 PM  
Blogger Maureen said...

This was a repeat post, right? I seem to remember this "incident" from another post! ;) Still funny, though.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm sorry for what you went through.

I wish I could say more but
I don't know what to say. I don't have kids so I feel anything I say might not really help.

I do think it's thoughtful though that you left a bigger tip.

And truly, your girls look like such angels. It's hard to imagine they make messes. :o)

9:46 AM  
Blogger rudecactus said...

Dining with kids is always an adventure. Not necessarily a good adventure but an adventure nonetheless.

3:34 PM  
Blogger Elaine A. said...

At least you didn't cry over the spilled milk, right? ; )

We went out the other night and we went with some friends who have a child our son's age and it was actually nicer b/c they had each other to talk to and keep company. But then there's always the toddler who is quite needy and messy!

3:53 PM  

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