It was one of those dinners. In theory, a nicely planned dinner out with the family where we would laugh and joke, share our hopes and dreams and enjoy each other's companies while literally writing the memories on our hearts that we will share for years to come about this wonderful meal we would share together. But that didn't happen. Here's what did.
We had just finished a nice afternoon at the playgorund where all 3 boys were able to run and play and enjoy themselves. But in parent terms it accomplished 2 things: 1) it was a time-killer till bedtime and 2) it was an energy-burner to make sure bed time happened soon and it would go smoothly. So next time you are at a park and you see parents encouraging their children to keep playing and keeping running, its not because they want them to have fun, its because its something to do and its to ensure an easy, quick bedtime.
Side note: As an adult your day/week is typically broken up by meals, work, weekends and social activities. Things you are looking forward to. Such as, "I can't wait till lunch. We are meeting up with my friend at this new restaurant." or "Saturday night is volleyball! I just have to make it through one more day." But as a parent, your day is broken up only by children sleeping. Such as, "Lets make it through lunch, then its nap time!" Or there's only 4 more hours till bedtime then....FREEDOM!!!"
I faced this today, when after naptime ended, I looked at the clock and thought, "what are we supposed to do for 5 more hours?" It was that dreaded time of day every parent fears, A.N. or T.B. Either timeframe will suffice and all parents should know it. If you say to another parent, "Its 4 T.B." They know its 4 hours "Till Bedtime". Or 2 A.N. 2 hours "After Nap." The count down is always ticking in every parents head. Its what replaces the biological clock in a person after they have had a child.
So luckily we came up with the playground idea. After the playground, we decided to get dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant. A little torilla chips and quesadillas, what could go wrong? So we go and the kids start snacking immediately on torilla chips. This is wonderful cause you dont have to wait for a waiter to scrounge up crackers or croutons while you attempt to keep your child entertained by coloring a crappy drawing of a generic cartoon bird while they fight over who gets the blue crayon for 20 mintues until your food arrives. Sorry Applebee's but its true. Well they are all eating chips and I am enjoying the salsa until my 20 month old starts reaching for it as well. So of course, I give it to him. And he loves it! Pretty soon, the chips are just a means to an end, while he is shoveling only the salsa into his mouth, no longer eating the chips. I love Mexican places because they also bring your food so quickly. So their quesadillas come, but problem...they have chicken and peppers in them! I tell Zachary, the 6 year old, not to look inside like it will spoil the mystery of why its so good but he realizes its because once he sees its not cheese only, he will not eat it. So he is now only eating the fries that came with it. Drew, the 3 year old, is only eating the fries as well because if Zachary wont eat it, he wont either. But he does want ketchup with his fries. Of course after taking 2 bites of fries with ketchup he no longer wants the ketchup and no longer wants it on his plate either. We convince him after much arguing that he should keep it on his plate cause there is nowhere else to put a tablespoon of loose ketchup. But now after seeing this debate, Nate, the 20 month old now wants ketchup too. So at this point, Nate is now only eating salsa and ketchup for dinner! And apparently also heard from latest Vogue magazine that these 2 items were the latest fashion trend in Paris this season, so decided to spread both all over his face, arms and clothing. And during this whole scene, Drew is trying to return to the womb by being all over Lindsey and not letting her eat without being touched for 2 seconds. I am also convinced that Moms have some kind of internal magnet that causes their children to be touching them 24 hours a day. Its like the child can not help but touch them. But if they are not touching, chemical receptors fire in the child's brain to make them complain about something until they can be up in Mom's business again. So Drew is wiggling and jumping all over Lindsey despite the repeated asking for him to stop. When he does, he picks up his full cup of water, was asked to return it to the table, ignored that command, took the top off, and "accidentally" dropped into Lindsey's purse. Not around it. Not spilled the water that eventually washed to her purse. Literally poured the whole cup into the purse. Cell phone was pulled out dripping including the wallet and all other soaked pieces of paper. At this point, Lindsey stands up and announces "I'm done. We are leaving." While she goes to find the waiter, who checked on us 5 times in the first 5 minutes of our meal but now when we need him, has gone underground, joined the witness protection agency, and requires an APB and a whole search party to join hands and walk across the cornfield together to find him, Drew is wet and screaming, wont sit down and demands to go with mommy to find the Lindberg baby waiter. So I am now telling him to sit, telling Zachary to finish his dinner of chips and fries, and attempting unsuccessfully to wipe down the tomato-stained Tyra Banks. We finally get the check, pay it quickly, grab the kids and exit stage left. We go quickly because 1) Its 20 min T.B. and 2) We dont want to see the face of the bus boy that has to clean up our mess cause that is instant guilt. Its better not to know. We know the responsibility that comes with cleaning up after our family dinner. The only difference between eating out and eating in is that when we eat in, we have a dog that does 80% of the clean-up. As evidenced by her 50 pounds of extra body fat. She may be overweight, but our floors stay clean and she gets fed. Its a win win.
So that was our wonderful dinner out which makes me begin to understand why "kids eat free on Tuesday night ONLY." They must have extra bus boys on staff on Tuesdays. Or they bring in overweight dogs to clean up at the end of the night.
Off to clean our salsa/ketchup stained bathtub and to air out a purse,
THe Joyful and Tired Dad