The Challenge of Eating Out with a Toddlerby Deanna Verbouwens
Never again. Never again will I step foot in a restaurant with my three-year-old. If you even hear me utter the words, “we’re going out to breakfast, lunch or dinner with the kids”, tie me up and lock me in a closet. Make sure I have some water though, as I tend to get thirsty quickly. Only five ounces though, anything more and I’ll be sure to wet myself.
We went to Applebee’s for dinner, yes fancy schmancy, and we were so stepping out. As we entered the waiting area, my three-year-old like a spy from CIA was eyeing the joint to see what he could infiltrate. As soon as the hostess said “follow me”, he took off and headed straight for the bar--the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! He was fascinated with the high top tables and kept circling them like a hawk. When I tried to pull him away, the screaming, the kicking, was totally unbelievable. He was screaming like I was waterboarding him to try to find out where he put the remote. My only thought was, "it’s a table kid- get over it!" From the moment we opened the menus, the little bugger was up, down, under the table, jumping from side-to-side, climbing on our feet for a solid 12 minutes. Then, with a snap of the fingers he escaped and went running like Flo Jo throughout the entire restaurant. Even though I’m doing speed work for my half marathon, I couldn’t catch him. Note to self: speed work may need to be cranked up as I’m still slower than a three-year-old. We navigated the restaurant weaving in and out of waitresses with trays and bar-backs with stacks of glasses.
When I finally caught him, for reasons I can’t explain, I thought a time-out, for him, myself and the entire restaurant would be in order; so off we went to the bathroom. Besides, I needed to attend to some business. Not sure why I attempted the bathroom with a three-year-old. I guess I was on a runner's high and thought at least he’d be contained. Besides, if we went back to the table--where my husband was completely useless, totally ignoring us, and pretending to read the menu--I am sure I’d scream at him, “It’s Applebee’s not Le Bernardin, order a burger and move on”. Nevertheless, I got in the stall, took the Mary Lou stance. With one hand on the little bugger so he didn’t touch a thing, and with the other I successfully excavated and implanted a feminine product. All the while the little man screamed on a constant loop of “Is that your peeney Mommy? What you putting in your peeney Mommy?” Let Shaun White try that move. As I did my dismount, we washed up and headed back to the table.
I tried my best to entertain him with games of eye spy, coloring and yes, even singing. I failed miserably. Just as I was about to stand on my head and do a double corkscrew on the table the little bastard pulled a Houdini. Still exhausted and wobbly from my ten minute squat in the bathroom, I waited for my husband to be chivalrous and take off after him, but nope, wasn’t going to happen. I ran after him and was relieved when he pulled a fast one and double-backed to the table. To my delight the appetizer was there. I foolishly thought we were in the clear, that the light was shining now and the storm was about to end. Cue the evil laughter, ‘cause people, the tortilla chips went flying through the air. I was in awe of his magnificent arm. It was like watching Jeter throw a runner out at first. His precision was magnificent, which I noticed when one of his chips dive bombed a very understanding elderly man at the next table.
At this point I was dripping in sweat and about to blow, and, yep, he took off like a bat out of hell. Like a turtle, and with much resistance my husband finally got off his ass and chased him; after about 20 minutes I realized that the other half of my family did not come back. I speculated that they left us in the restaurant, debated that they may of gotten hurt, questioned that perhaps my husband was at the bar doing shot after shot. As I put my last bite of salad to my lips, I had a smile on my face, a full belly, and a pleasant meal with my seven-year-old son who was completely oblivious to what was happening.
I looked up to see the other half of my family approaching the table. What I saw before me was a very teary eyed three-year-old, and a Daddy that was spent. All I could think of was “Payback’s a bitch”.