Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dinner with Friends (Make room for the Sippy Cup)

When I was about 8 months pregnant, Brian and I had dinner with his sister, brother-in-law and their twins. We picked a "kid-friendly" place and not having any kids yet, I'd never been to this particular establishment. Honestly, I could have made it my entire life without stepping foot in Happy Joe's.  While it was SO nice to spend time with my in-laws, there was just ALOT going on. Lots of kids -running and yelling and drooling and I'm pretty sure some were bleeding. They were dirty and loud and messy.  I was appalled and began to freak out.  Is this where I'd have dinner for the next 18 years anytime me and Brian wanted to get out of the house? As parents, were we obliged to pick a restaurant that was wildly entertaining for ages 3-13?  I started to freak out. Would my meals out include taco pizza (which in hindsight, I should have enjoyed while I had the chance) or come with a toy? Needless to say, I did not move from our booth until it was time to leave (admittedly, part of this was due to the fact that I was enormous and couldn't get up without help). Brian and I vowed to take Cameron to all the places we currently enjoyed in hopes that he would easily learn how to act around other people and behave in public. I suppose these were more my hopes than his, but he went along with my plans.
I have no idea what the hell kind of kool-aid we were drinking. Clearly, we'd never raised a child before.

Our carefully plotted plan worked for awhile:

Cameron celebrates Cinco de Mayo

 Cameron enjoys dining al fresco

 Mama enjoys a veggie burger with a side of Cam!

Pre-verbal, pre-mobile Cam enjoyed many meals out with mom and dad - but, now - oh how things have changed.

Earlier this month, all three of us were invited to a dinner party at my friend's home.  They prepared a lovely weekday meal of roasted veggies, salad, and cornish hens. They even allowed us to come over an hour before dinner was ready to let Cam explore and unwind. He cruised along their future, pillaging everything in his path.  Coasters, remote controls and utensils were fair game. iPhones were taken hostage.  Their dogs made a feast of the banana, bread, and apple sauce that Cam threw on the floor.  Our dinner conversation was punctuated with people taking turns fetching him from the edge of the basement steps, trying to cram bits of our dinner in his mouth and finally, blocking his escape route with a storage bin.  It did not matter that we brough a rubbermaid bin of toys or enough food to survive nuclear winter - nothing entertains a toddler for long. When Cam discovered the accessible rack of wine glasses, it was time to head home. Thankfully, my childless friends got their baby fix and happily sent us on our way.

Last week, we met two of our friends out for dinner.  We tried to initiate the same strategy - bring toys, come early, be hungry.  Stationed at a table on the patio, we enjoyed our happy hour cocktails while Cameron played with his books and munched happily on pita with hummus. 

Our friends arrived..... a bit of madness ensued.  It didn't help that the patio wasn't swept (really, is that too much to ask for?!) and Cameron managed to find and attempt to shove in his mouth EVERY single cigarette butt missed by the broom. I am becoming a pro at one-handed-eating-while-chasing-my-child.  Cameron flirted shamelessly with the women at the next table.  My friend corraled Cameron onto her lap while I gulped down my wine but the evening was brought to a premature end when somebody filled his diaper.

A few lessons to be learned:
  • Do not be intimidated by newborns - they are the easiest to transport.  Take them EVERYWHERE.
  • Have good friends who love your child - 4 laps are better than 2.
  • Let people come to you. If your kid breaks something, at least it's yours.
  • It is GOOD for your toddler to explore... if he's not being crazily disruptive, try to let him do so. Unless he's trying to stick cigarette butts in his mouth.
  • It's okay to leave your kid at home.  The arm previously reserved for him can now pour more wine in your glass.
And, enjoy the meals you have at home. Especially when you have such a great helper!
"Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside - children have their own agendas and timescales.  As they find out more about their world and their place in it, they work hard not to let adults hurry them." ~Cathy Nutbrown


1 comment: