We’ve all been there. It’s a Friday night, the refrigerator is depleted from the week’s school lunches and the thought of cooking and cleaning up another meal sounds about as exciting as a trip to the gynecologist.
You deserve it and you know it. A nice meal out, chilled wine in a real glass and a perfect individual sized dessert is just the pick me up you need to get through the jam-packed weekend of events.
The decision is made, a family dinner in a restaurant where life-sized stuffed animals playing guitar are nowhere to be found is definitely happening. Next is the tricky part, surviving it with one or (GASP!) multiple children in tow.
Don’t worry friends; it’s only 37 easy steps to culinary delight.
- Grab a purse or diaper bag and stuff it to the brim with bribes, toys, wipes, phone, iPad, headphones, markers and candy. You will need the entire arsenal if you are going to make it through to dessert.
- Look at the clock, and realize if you are not out the door in exactly three minutes you will arrive during peak dinnertime. Peak dinnertime equates to a wait… with small children. If that happens, kiss the dream of molten chocolate cake goodbye. You better put on a real bra and get out the door like your life depends on it.
- Load the car and promise the kids endless Shirley Temples for their cooperation. At this point, both you and your husband are optimistic this can all be pulled off.
- Arrive and give your toddler an enthusiastic high five for snagging the last table available. Yes! But wait, it’s a booth. A booth means no high chair. No real way to keep a toddler contained. It’s OK, improvising is key to parenthood.
- Sit down, take a deep breath and know your taste buds are in for a treat! You’ve made it here, which is the hardest part. Right?
- Before the waiter can even mutter “what can I get you to drink,” you quickly spew out your children’s entire order. Promise a huge tip for bringing out the $12 Kraft Macaroni and Cheese as quickly as humanly possible. Sure, a box is less than $2 in the grocery store but you didn’t have to prepare it. Totally worth the extra money.
- Order your wine and exhale. It’s all down hill from here, or so you think.
- The first 10 minutes are relatively pleasant. The kids are sipping their “special drinks,” the wine tastes good and an adult conversation is taking place.
- Minute 11 – the hangriness begins to set in. You look around for the waiter and curse his name for not sprinting out with the Kraft boxed dinner.
- Squeals and whining begin to occur. They are relatively mild, but it’s a nice place so you glance around to see who may be able to hear. Quickly grab a toy and squelch the whining before it becomes elevated.
- The food is delivered! Woohoo! Wait, little Johnny wanted chicken fingers even though he said 21 times he preferred the mac and cheese. Pouting begins again.
- Since the toys were brought out early, no one is interested in their food anyway. Fantastic.
- Finally the kids begin to take a bite, after much deliberation back and forth, until one throws a noodle at the other. A one-ounce piece of food obviously causes severe bodily harm and the recipient of the throw is now crying and asking for a Band-Aid.
- Out come the electronics. Who wants to watch an episode of Paw Patrol while they eat?!?
- Right before you are about the bite in to your delicious gourmet meal, your oldest announces he has to poop. Put down the fork and proceed to the nearest bathroom where he will touch everything with germs present. Prepare yourself for a week’s worth of stomach viruses immediately following this meal.
- You return to still warm food. Thank goodness.
- The episode of Paw Patrol has commenced and so has dinner for your toddler. He wriggles under the table. You let him because you just want to eat.
- You hear the sound of crunching and notice the toddler eating a stale piece of baguette off the floor. You wince, and then keep on eating. You are already in for a week of sickness after the bathroom trip anyway.
- The baguette must have kept him busy for a while because it’s noticeably quiet and peaceful. Nope, he’s now pooping (in his diaper thank goodness), under the table.
- Things are going south quickly. You both know it’s imperative to shovel the food in your gourd as fast as humanly possible if it is to be enjoyed or eaten at all.
- Another episode of Paw Patrol is complete. Mayhem ensues. One kid is threatening nuclear meltdown if his meal doesn’t include ice cream. The other reeks, and has eaten the rest of his floor baguette. Time is now of the essence.
- The waiter is of course nowhere to be found and your section of the restaurant seems to be quickly dissipating, probably to escape the stench and the sound of Mayor Goodway and her ridiculous pet chicken being rescued by the talking puppies. Impatience is growing quickly, for everyone.
- Forget the dessert. It’s not happening. At least you were able to inhale at record speed a nice meal.
- Gulp down the rest of the wine like it’s your last meal on death row.
- Have your husband search the restaurant for the waiter so he can quickly throw a credit card at him without even looking at the total. Money is not important at this point.
- The sugar from 2 ½ Shirley Temple’s is now in full force. The kids are climbing over your shoulders trying to talk with patrons at the neighboring booth.
- WHERE IS THE WAITER?!!!?!
- Finally, the bill is paid. Thank you baby Jesus.
- Round up the iPad, the four toys thrown to the ground, the boxed up and untouched kids meal, the 31 ice cubes scattered on the table used as a pacifier for a few minutes, and the shoe the toddler threw off. Just one shoe of course.
- But wait, the toddler is now refusing to come out from under the table, apparently he found a new baguette piece to chew on.
- Ask him to come out from under the table.
- Beg him to come out from under the table.
- Grab his arm and drag him out from under the table.
- Cover his mouth as he screams as if someone is stabbing him.
- Look down as you run out of the restaurant as quickly as possible.
- Buckle the kids in to their seatbelts, where they return to the normal, lovely children they know how to be.
- Drive home and go straight to bed because going out to eat with children is equivalent to running a marathon.
At least you didn’t have to cook and clean the dishes?