It is Friday night. You are out to a romantic dinner with your main squeeze. You are sipping wine and gazing into each other’s eyes…then suddenly out of nowhere a small head pops up from the booth behind you and tries to hand you a half-eaten roll. Meet my daughter ladies and gentleman.
Dining out with a toddler can be difficult. If you are one of those mothers that was blessed with a child that can amuse him/herself for 2 hours with a sugar packet & a straw, you are one of the lucky ones. I am not so fortunate. My daughter is a ticking time bomb. The countdown starts as soon as we walk in the door. Let the countdown begin…
1-10 minutes: We are usually still in the safe zone. She is looking around and taking in the new faces, noises and atmosphere. We are still smiling and hopeful that we will have a good meal. I agonize over what to order her. What will she actually eat? I order the most fattening thing on the menu because it doesn’t matter, I won’t be able to eat it anyways.
10-20 minutes: The table is covered in salt & pepper & her pretty new dress has a lovely brown wet spot on it from her trying to drink her chocolate milk with a spoon. I am not ready to break into my bag of dinnertime entertainment yet. It is too soon. I beg the waitress to quickly bring out a fruit cocktail.
20-30 minutes: Dinner is served. As my daughter’s decibel level rises, so do the other diner’s heads. I am remembering being one of those glaring people before I had our daughter. I remember saying or thinking, “Why can’t they keep their child quiet?” Now as I eat my dinner, I also eat those words.
Perhaps during the dinner, Mai will make a statement such as “Poop is not good for supper. Jellybeans are good for supper.” The couple at the table next to us looks over at us. I assure them that I do not feed my daughter poop. I bribe my daughter with fruit snacks to take a bite of her food.
30-40 minutes: Where is our waitress? Did she go home? Mai starts sliding under the booth. I break out more fruit snacks & pull out some books from my bottomless purse.
Mommy: “Do you want to color?”
Mai: “No, not yet.”
Mommy: “Sit down & you can have more fruit snacks.”
Mai: “No fruit snacks anymore.” “What’s that?” “I go there.”
40-50 minutes: Seriously where is our waitress? The clock is ticking down. My two year old gets increasingly more agitated. She tries to wriggle past me to run after the fan she sees in the corner of the restaurant.
“Fan goes round! Fan goes round!”
No Mai, you have to stay here.
Uh oh! We are running out of time. Quick cut the blue wire or is it the red one?
“Mai, do you want to play with Mommy’s phone?”
Always be prepared when you are dining out with your child. Pack snacks, a favorite cup, a change of clothes, crayons, toys, books and in a pinch a smart phone pre-loaded with child friendly apps and games can come in handy. Bon Appétit.