I took my kids out for lunch yesterday. They love to go out to eat. It is a treat for them. Not so much for me, or any other adult that happens to be in our presence, but circumstances call for stepping outside of your comfort zone from time to time. Besides, children can benefit from several life lessons offered by the dining out experience. Unfortunately for parents everywhere, socially acceptable behavior cannot be adequately practiced in the comfort of one’s own home. You need to get them out in the elements. They need to be exposed and tested on a regular basis to assess progress over time.
“Table for 4 please.”
“That’ll be 35 minutes.”
Here is what a reasonable mother who decided to take her 3 young children to a busy restaurant for lunch would’ve heard, “Get the hell out of here!”
Not me though. Nope.
Oldest child: “Mom, how long is it going to be?”
Me: “Thirty five minutes.”
Oldest child: “Thirty five minutes?! Seriously Mom?!”
Me (forced smile): “Yep.”
Middle child: “Ugh! Can we go somewhere else? Thirty five minutes! I want to go to McDonald’s.”
Youngest child (Buddy) begins stomping around in a circle and proclaims in his non-inside sing song voice: “McDonald’s YAY!!! Weeee’re going to McDoooonald’s, weeee’re going to McDoooonald’s, weeee’re going to McDoooonald’s…”
Me: “Chill out Buddy. We are not going to McDonald’s.”
Buddy in his fake cry voice: “Waaaaaaaah!”
Me: “Look, they have toys!”
Buddy: “Cars! Brroooom, broooom, brooooom…”
Oldest child: “Hey! Why do they get to go before us? We were here first! That’s not even fair.”
Me: “Because they probably called ahead honey.”
Oldest child: Sigh. “You should’ve called ahead Mom.”
Me: “Wow, great point! I’ll remember that for next time. You are such a thinker.”
Middle child: “Now how long Mom?”
Me: “Twenty minutes.”
Middle child: “That’s so long! Can I have your phone?”
Middle child: “Why not?”
Me: “Because you don’t need to constantly stare at my phone. Maybe we could try having a conversation?”
Middle child: “Okay. You should get a new phone.”
Middle child: “Because your phone is really old. You should get the 6. It’s way better than yours.”
Me: “Huh? My phone works just fine.”
Middle child: “We should get a new car then.”
Well now there’s a leap.
Me: “There is nothing wrong with our van (aside from being a van). Besides, a new vehicle costs a lot of money.”
Middle child: “So.”
Oldest child: “Yeah, our van is fine. It just has a little rust on it. You can barely even tell when it’s dirty. Anyway, we need to save our money so we can afford to buy food to eat. Right, Mom?”
Me: “I have a headache.”
Middle child: “Hey, they just called my name Mom! Let’s go!”
Me: “Your name isn’t Maggie, and besides, they will be calling MY name, not yours.”
Middle child: “Ugh. I wish my name was Maggie.”
Me: Sigh. “Me too.”
Oldest child: “Umm, Mom (she points)…”
Apparently my lesson on financial responsibility and economics was less than engaging for my three year old son, who decided unbeknownst to me to wander across the room and confront/wrestle the innocent little boy (half his size) who had “stolen” a car from the kiddy table.
Me: “I’m sorry, he’s not usually like this.”
After an on the spot lesson in sharing, I drag him back to our corner with the realization that sitting is no longer an option for me. Wide and ready stance it is.
Buddy: “OH MY GOD! Who broke the green crayon?”
Me: “Shhhhhh. Buddy, we don’t say Oh my God. It’s disrespectful, and it’s Sunday.”
Buddy: “Okay Mommy. Can I say Holy Buckets?”
Me: “Knock yourself out.”
Buddy (fist pump): “Yes!”
Middle child: “Buddy, just say OMG next time.”
Me: “No, don’t say that either.”
Middle child: “Why not?”
Me: “Because he’s 3. And more importantly, it’s annoying.”
Oldest child: “I know, right?”
Middle child: “Hey Mom, what’s a funeral home? I mean, what do they even do in there?”
Me: “Here’s my phone.”
Middle child: “Yes! How much longer now Mom?”
Me: “Ten minutes.”
Oldest child: Eye roll, hands in head, heavy audible sigh.
Middle child: “How about now?”
Middle child: “What?! You just said 10, how can it be 15?!”
Me: “Don’t ask me that question again. If you ask me that question again, the time will go up. Are we clear?”
Middle child: “That’s not even possible (death glare).”
Oldest child: “Mom, Buddy is laying on the floor.”
Buddy: “Waaaaaah, my pants are wet.”
Me: “That’s because you laid in a puddle Buddy.”
Another impromptu lesson in cause and effect follows.
Middle child: “How much longer Mom?”
Middle child: “Just kidding.”
Middle child: “But seriously. How much?”
Buddy: “I have to go potty.”
Me: “You just went.”
Buddy (grasping his man parts for dear life): “I have to potty right now!”
I believe in Karma. I have issues with germs. I believe that the reason my son insists on going to the bathroom every single time we enter a public venue is a direct result of my past transgressions.
I knew he didn’t have to go. I would’ve bet my life on the fact that he didn’t have to go, but I wasn’t about to call his bluff and create another scene. At any rate, I suddenly had to go too.”
Buddy: “Don’t come in with me Mommy. I need some privacy.”
Me: “Not gonna happen Buddy.”
Buddy: “I don’t want to go in that one. I want to go in the big one.”
I always choose the smallest stall. Based on past experience, it’s a no-brainer. I need to be within easy reach of the lock. He thinks it’s funny to unlock the door when I am at my most vulnerable point. He’s such a jokester.
I consider briefly revisiting the topic of indecent exposure, but am quickly distracted by my son’s crystal clear intentions and the abrupt realization that I have ridiculously underestimated the distance between my sitting self and the door.
Me: “Don’t do it Buddy.”
Buddy: Sly grin.
He can be such an asshole sometimes.
Me (under my breath): “I am so stupid.”
He has bat ears.
Buddy: “Mom, you shouldn’t say stupid. Stupid is a bad word.”
Perfect. I think we’ve had enough learning for the day.