I used to be that girl sitting in a booth with my friends enjoying drinks and appies, while we discussed how our weeks went. We would usually meet at around 7 pm or later. We would just get settled into talking about some hilariously inappropriate topic when a couple and their young child would be seated at the table next to us. I love kids, so I wouldn’t see this as a problem. That is until the little monster would begin crying and throwing food all over the floor. Then I would say to my friends, “why would someone bring a baby to a nice restaurant?”. I really did try not to judge, but all I wanted was to wind down at the end of my busy work week, without shrill baby screams blocking out our conversations. Oh, but that was then. Last week, we became those parents.
Don’t get me wrong. I do not regret taking our baby to a restaurant. I believe this is how children learn how to act in a social setting, and becoming accustomed to restaurants is important for future birthdays, anniversaries, and such, not to mention mommy and daddy need a social life. I simply wanted to share my experience so that new parents are not discouraged when “sh*t hits the fan”.
How we ended up at a nice restaurant for dinner at 5 pm is as follows. A couple days prior, one of my best friends contacted me to let me know that she, her hubby, and their young son RJ would be coming into the city for a work event. We were excited to see each other and agreed that we should all meet for dinner so we could catch up (haha catch up . . . right). We picked a spot and decided that 5 pm would be a good time to meet since our kids both go to bed at around 7 pm. We also wanted to prematurely do damage control; 5 pm would most likely mean fewer people, and fewer people would mean less angry restaurant-goers if our kids decided to cause a scene. We had it all figured out. Or so I thought.
My daughter decided that it would be a perfect day to skip her afternoon nap. I didn’t think it would be the end of the world though. If I could feed her, it would be possible that she would sleep in her carrier throughout dinner. This did not happen. Despite this, our evening started out okay. We arrived at the restaurant and as we expected, there were not many people. My husband and I each ordered a coffee. Our little one quietly sat in her carrier, sucking her soother. Then our friends arrived with RJ, who is 18 months old. Evidently, he did not have his nap either. Our nice waiter brought a high chair for him and he quickly refused to sit in it. He also did not want to play with his toys. I give him a free pass on being a bit grouchy though because he drove in from out of town and would not be sleeping in his own bed that night. It’s to be expected 🙂 . It took longer than usual for the waiter to take our orders because we were having trouble getting organized with car seats, high chairs, diaper bags, toy bags, etc. By this time more people were coming in for their after-work beverages, and the funny looks at our chaotic table began. Regardless, we did get our orders placed. Our friends ordered wine and beer, while we were sipping on coffee like chumps. I realized that they had done this before and knew how the night would go, so my husband and I quickly ordered our alcohol too (one drink is okay, right?). It’s good that we did, because we needed it to take the edge off.
Our food arrived. I think it looked good and it probably tasted okay. I’m fairly certain I ordered a salmon bowl but I can’t quite remember because I was struggling with my kid trying to feed her under a nursing cover. She was sort of eating but was mostly just fussing and threatening me with squawks. Of course, this freaked me out because I didn’t want to interrupt the restaurant guests who were coming to enjoy their meals after a long workday. I also didn’t want to have a nipple slip. As I was at war with my child I looked up and across the table at my friend. We made eye contact and I could tell something was wrong. Then I saw what it was. RJ, who was seated on her lap, had a handful of cut up kid’s pasta. Forget a fork. He was shoving it into his mouth. And then it hit the floor. I couldn’t help but laugh. Here is a little boy with cheesy pasta hands, a baby girl who is squawking like a goose, two moms who are trying their best to keep the kids calm and from turning into complete neanderthals, and two dads who are drinking their beers, talking hockey. My husband eventually took our baby so I could eat, but by this time my food was cold. I don’t blame him though; one of us needed to eat and I had to nurse. Oh but the craziness didn’t end there. My kid puked all over my husband and me, and RJ hit a cup of coffee cream across the table, which landed on my hubby, and a bit on the baby. Then his mom had to walk with him to calm him again. I don’t think she got to enjoy her meal either.
In conclusion, life has changed. We used to decide to go out to eat about 5 minutes before we left the house and it was always after 7 pm. We would sit in the lounge, order what we wanted to drink, and go out to have fun afterwards. We didn’t have a bedtime and we were able to let go of our responsibilities for the entire night. I never did find out how our friends’ lives are going, but there will be plenty of time to learn about each other when this madness ends in 18 years. Being a parent is all about making sacrifices. We sacrifice sleep. We sacrifice showering every day. We sacrifice doing what we want, when we want. We made this choice and I don’t have any regrets. I guess I will be frequenting Chuck E Cheese from now on. Sigh.