Going to a restaurant is one of those activities that, when you don’t have children, you take for granted. A trip out to eat for my family starts out with my husband and I trying to wiggle my son into a clean diaper and clothes, packing a cooler of milk for my son and snacks, then convincing my daughter that even though she doesn’t have to pee now, she will the second she hears the “click” of her seatbelt harness being fastened. In the winter we get the added bonus of squeezing both kids into coats, hats, gloves and boots. This process rarely takes less than 30 minutes.
Then there is the drive to the restaurant. Someone is screaming and crying no matter what. Normally it is the kids…sometimes it’s me. When we get to our location we are normally praying there is no wait. Even 5 minutes could ruin our shot at a nice family meal. We are not patient people. And by “we” I mean the monsters trying to grab the mints at the hostess stand or poke their eyes out with the provided toothpicks by the door. Seriously, WHY are these things always within arms reach of a toddler?
Sitting down at a table is always a blast too. I joke about them being monsters but generally my kids are pretty good about following orders when we first get somewhere. No matter how good they are being, there will always be someone staring us down with the “I can’t believe they brought their KIDS” look. It’s all I can do not to slap it off their faces.
Usually we pick an eatery that we know can get food out fast. Our favorite is Olive Garden because the kids will eat the food and we can get breadsticks right away to hold them over. We cross our fingers for a good server…it can make all the difference. A note to the staff- when we ask for chocolate milk, we mean within the next 3 minutes please. Apparently sometimes the chocolate milk is prepared by the bartender and I’m not ok with this. It takes longer to get longer to get and refills take an eternity. Honestly…why?!
We try to do a good job keeping the kids busy until food gets to them. My son is still finding his voice and likes to scream sometimes. Not cry, just shout out to make sure everyone knows he’s there. We get lots of smiles but sometimes eye rolls. I secretly hope a fly lands on their salads.
Our food always comes hot but is always eaten cold. Between feeding the little one and coaching our oldest on every bite, sometimes I might as well take my plate to go. It never fails that we sit close to someone about our age, with no children and they are slowly chewing and enjoying every bite of their meal. All while I’m downing mine like a contestant at a Coney Island hot dog eating contest. Did you know bread goes down faster and with minimal chewing if you dip it in water? I’ve been temped friends.
Then there is the bill situation. It never fails that our server leaves the bill and won’t come back for 3 hours. We try to have our card ready as soon as they get to the table but it just doesn’t happen all he time. So we wait with kids that have been normally pretty good for the last 45 minutes but don’t have an ounce of good juice left. They are boiling over with energy and need to get out…now!
We are sweating when we leave. Even when we have a good experience. It’s stressful and the looks you get from childless people are evil. But we keep going because I’m not one to be “punished” in social situations for having children. Plus my daughter really likes dessert at Olive Garden. And by “dessert” I mean the chocolate mints that come with the check…God love them.