I don’t know if a relaxing family meal at a restaurant exists with three small children. We went out to enjoy a meal at a local greasy spoon this past weekend.
The restaurant was busy (this builds a parents anxiety). What could go wrong? What if they scream? What if they spill their drinks? What if they want out of their high chairs? What if? What if? We quickly ordered 3 full breakfasts (1 of the largest on the menu for the 3 children to share – pancakes, eggs, home fries, toast, bacon, sausage…and yes, they ate it)! We struggled to drink our coffee as our sixteen month olds grabbed at the sugar dish, the plate of milk and creamers, the salt and pepper etc. We had to clear a huge radius from each child and unfortunately the table was not that large.
The meal arrives.
We start our frantic attempt at organizing our postage sized dining table. It was near impossible to keep our food a safe distance from our hungry and reaching little ones. We started a frenzy of cutting their food into bite-sized pieces. Adding butter and syrup to pancakes. Consolidating plates. Moving all unnecessary items from our table (and literally throwing them to the table beside us).
Every once in awhile I would notice that the nearby tables were watching open mouthed at this family of 5-ring circus unfolding before them. I was reassured when they would smile and point (at least they weren’t giving me the finger).
In the past, I have read on Facebook when people comment on families who bring their children to restaurants. It is usually hurtful comments about how “they” should keep better control of their kids. They should reduce the noise level of their “bratty children” or they should “avoid restaurants when you have kids”. I usually feel insulted. And then feel assured that one day they will see when they have their own children…it is not that easy.
We had a great meal. We even had an elderly couple comment on how well-behaved our children were (which was a very big relief compared to the outcomes I had imagined). We don’t usually go out to eat but it seemed like a nice holiday outing for a family. It went well and my son loved it! We won’t be rushing back any time soon because I couldn’t even tell you if my meal was good or bad. I did eat it but I can hardly remember!
It may not have been relaxing but the kids had a wonderful time.
And we, as parents, felt we had accomplished something and in between worried glances exchanged between husband and wife. We both felt so happy to have our three children with us.