April 5, 2013

how to eat at a restaurant with a one year old

Okay, I’ve been slacking in the dinner prep area lately. I’ve barely cooked in the last couple of weeks, and most of my meal planning has come in the form of ordering delivery or opening a package of soup and breaking into a loaf of bread. Not that these are bad options, but I wouldn’t mind having a real meal here and there.

So yesterday I decided we’d just go out to eat after work and relax. Already, you must be thinking “What part of you gets to relax when you eat out with a toddler??” In case you don’t know what that looks like, here’s a quick rundown of the required steps:
  1. Smile to the hostess as she seats you and gets you the highchair. Congratulate yourself for getting there right at 5:00 – before the main mealtime, and before most of the other diners get there, when the kidling is most likely to embarrass you by melting down.
  2. Order bread right away so the kidling has something to do.
  3. Break out the baggie of crunchy snacks for the kidling to snack on before the bread arrives, since he’s already looking for the nearest thing to bang on the table or throw behind him.
  4. Order a beer. Hope it arrives quickly.
  5. Admire your beautiful toddler as he charms the pants off of the restaurant staff.
  6. Order food you think the kidling will also enjoy.
  7. Watch the kidling drop every. Single. Bite. To. The. Floor.
  8. Give the kidling more bread, and *light bulb* get a sippy from the car and put milk in it for the kidling to drink so at least he’ll get some nutrition.
  9. Pick up the sippy from the floor – three or four times throughout the meal, setting it aside periodically since he obviously doesn’t give a sh*t about the sippy right now.
  10. Pick up some of the food from the floor, breathing deep and hiding your embarrassment.
  11. Somewhere in this, scarf down bites from your own meal (if you still have an appetite).
  12. Give the kidling more bread. Give him a bite of your food and watch him smoosh it between his fingers, smear it on the table, and finally flick it to the floor like so many sticky boogers. 
  13. Wonder how many staph infections he's likely to get by tasting the food after it's been smooshed on the table. If you haven't said grace and blessed the meal, you'd better do it now.
  14. Let your dining companion pick him up and walk outside as the first tantrum rears its ugly head. He's obviously done.
  15. Grab your server, grab the check, grab the leftovers and your jacket, and duck out the door hoping you've left a generous enough tip for putting up with you.
  16. Leave your leftovers on the roof of the car as you drive away, only to watch them FLING off the roof behind you, and smack your head.
  17. Then, my dear, laugh! Because laughing is much more fun than crying or feeling sorry for yourself.
  18. Admire your beautiful toddler in the rear view mirror as he plays with his feet and smiles at you.

The end.

Oh - after all of this I did a little searching for helpful hints on eating out with a toddler. I don't plan on staying home for the next five years. Gotta get some toddler dining place mats for those tables, because... bleahh. Fortunately I did have some alcohol pads handy, and the stuff they picked up was enough to convince me that those self-sticking place mats are worth it.