I didn't want to become that parent. I wanted to rise above it, I wanted to remain a hipster whose kids really wouldn't cramp my style. I'm not the sit at home kind of gal, I'm a social butterfly, a person who gets out to where the action is. I have always taken my kids out to restaurants. Granted I know our limits, we don't haul the monkeys to white table cloth and candle light venues, but we like to enjoy good meals at family friendly restaurants. Parents have to get out to you know, and we all have to eat.
Well it's happened. I think I am calling a temporary hiatus on eating out with the kids, anywhere other than McDonald's that is-and since we don't typically "do" fast food, I guess that means meals at home from now on. My parents are in town this weekend, and today we had two unsuccessful/disastrous meals out with the kids that really sealed the deal.
We had lunch at Saul's, the Jewish deli not far from our home. It was a late lunch, so I suppose I was pushing my luck to begin with. Zack had already had his noon time meal at preschool, and it was 1:30. I knew I could keep my eldest child happy with a giant Black & White cookie, and I was right, he was an angel eating away at his treat that was bigger than my head the entire meal. It was Evan who presented the problems. I thought I had a great action plan. As soon as we sat down I placed an order for a child's milk and a fruit cup, so that he would have something to snack on while we waited for the main event. The waiter dutifully brought out his milk right away, a glass (yes the type that breaks) filled to the rim with milk and no lid to speak of. Not the best option for a 16 month old, but then it was probably my fault to arrive unprepared sans sippy cup. The milk presented an ongoing challenge throughout the meal, as Evan grabbed for his drink and continually spilled it down his front, on the table and the floor. The fruit was barely a distraction, after a few bites,Evan began to attempt his favorite stunt- High Chair Standing (a variation of grocery cart surfing-another favorite). From the standing position he then ventured to crawling on the table top. After about five minutes of this, I had enough. I decided to take my dare devil outside to run free until our meals arrived at the table. We ran outside happily on the sidewalk for several minutes until lunch was served.
Evan had zero interest in his grill cheese sandwich, and it went completely untouched. I shoved my chicken salad down in mouthfuls, not even tasting the food, just wishing the meal to be finished, and planning our escape. As we were awaiting the bill Evan gave a grand finale, taking a paper cup of cream soda and throwing it to the floor as my Aunt Beryl let out a yelp. The other diners turned to look, some amused and some visibly disgusted. I left before the check arrived, leaving my parent's to pick up the bill.
Tonight we went to a famously kid-friendly pub for dinner. The place has a play area, and there were really no diners who arrived without children. Even so, I did not enjoy my meal. Evan put on a similar show, I ate my sandwich in gulps, and scooped up the kids leaving before the rest of our party. What a waste of money.
Honestly, it's just not worth it. It has become aggravating, embarrassing and exhausting. As much as I hate to throw in the towel and give up one my favorite past-times, I think it will ultimately be easier on us, and the waiters & waitresses of the world will be eternally grateful if we simply stay home.