There were many warning signs. So many, in fact, I’m not sure why we thought it would be a good idea.
Going out to lunch, that is.
Krista, “A table for, um…Let me count. Nine, please.”
“Nine?” asked the hostess.
“Yep. Three adults, three toddlers and three babies.”
Blink, blink. “Ok, so three adults and six kids?”
For those of you already laughing at us, just wait a second. You’ll be laughing harder soon.
We went with the best of intentions: to celebrate Kayla’s birthday! Yay! However, each of have two kids under three.
We normally do things that make sense with so many children: go for a walk, play at the park, or visit at each other’s homes, but those are ordinary, every week kind of things. This needed to be special!
So we all met for lunch at Red Robin.
For some unmemorable reason, we met fairly late (read, too close to nap time). When I arrived (15 minutes late, because, well…that’s just how I am), the other ladies already had a nice table far, far in the back. I’m sure the hostess foresaw the impending disaster and sat us as far from normal people as possible.
I laughed as soon as I reached them, because the ridiculousness of the situation became immediately clear. Where should all the babies go? Only two of them (maybe) can sit in a high chair. And how do you distribute 3 adults among six kids when all the toddlers want to sit together? We played musical carseat-sling/highchairs until something worked. Sort of.
The “girls” (we all have girls who are between two and three) sat along the wall in the bench seat. Perfect for bouncing and playing. Not so much for sitting and eating. Mo was immediately fascinated by the giant carousel horse perched on the ledge behind her.
In the beginning everyone was happy.
Ok. I lied. There was always at least one child crying or whining. However, it was pleasant enough that the diners around us were still smiling. Perhaps thinking, Aw. I remember when my kids were that age. I miss those times.
That quickly changed to, Just kidding. Thank God that is not me!
Crayons were used, abused, dropped and chewed. Knives and forks were brandished and quickly moved. The minions were growing restless. The waitress quickly complied with our plea for some french fries. I’m pretty sure she saw the panic rising in our eyes. She brought them out right away. Super fresh. And, super hot.
Paige (Krista’s oldest) throws up when she gets too excited or anxious. She crammed an ember-hot french fry into her mouth, spat it out into her mom’s hand (with a scream, of course) and then started gagging.
“Oh no.” said Krista. “Ok Paigey, time to go” And she scooped her up just in time for the Little One to puke freckled strawberry lemonade all the way to the bathroom.
Right about this moment, the gentle smiles from onlookers had turned into looks of either horror or pity.
All the girls needed naps. No one was eating because everyone wanted what the other kid ordered, and Mo was trying really, really hard to sneak her way onto that carousel horse.
Mia (Kayla’s oldest) does her darndest to subside solely on whole milk and gold fish. She’s pretty adamant about not eating. Luckily, she can get her calories from milk or the closest thing to milk: a milk shake.
Once it arrived, instant whiny pleas arose from all the other kiddos.
“But Mia has a milk shake! I want one too!” Mo whined.
“Too bad, so sad. Life’s tough, and all that.” I can be quite compassionate.
Us ladies? We were doing our best to carry on. To smile, to chat, to celebrate our friend. At some point each of us had switched babies without really noticing. I looked down and realized I had been jostling Kolbe for long enough he was sleeping in my lap with his head lolling from one side to the other with each bounce. I stopped the concussive movement, and laid him in his carseat with just enough time to shove half a croissant sandwich in my mouth before re-binki-ing a different angry baby.
Krista returned with Paige. She looked at the vomit trail with horror, and we all reached for our diaper wipes at the same time. I think she was surprisingly clandestine in her clean up. She sat down just as her barely touched cheeseburger was thrown to the floor by a little set of hands.
“Any room for dessert?” the waitress asked, but not as enthusiastically as usual, probably hoping we’d say no.
We looked at the chaos around us and said, “Sure! It’s our friend’s birthday. How bout a giant slab of cake with several spoons?”
We sat there, laughing at ourselves, alternating spoons of chocolate goodness between our mouths and the mouths of the little baby birds that had suddenly become very hungry upon the arrival of cake.
We unanimously decided it has been a good run, but that we would never, ever try lunch again. Picnics? Fine. Starbucks? Even better. Sit down restaurant? Nope. Then we fantasized about our husbands being in our place, and the three of us drinking at a Happy Hour somewhere. Maybe getting our toes done or eating a meal without the kids…perhaps having a silent moment or two…
Then all the girls combusted at the same time, fueled by chocolate and french fries. There was manic giggling, bench bouncing, and at least one child eating food off the floor. We frantically waved down our waitress for the checks.
As we signed our receipts, I joked that we should leave a nice tip. Everyone had been rather patient with us…
Nah, I thought, talking myself down. I’m sure it wasn’t anything the restaurant staff hasn’t seen before. Children always seem the most obnoxious to their own parents, right? And really, the the kids were ok, just a little loud.
At just that moment, Mo knocked over a full glass of water, flooding the table, my lap, the bench seat and the checks. I picked up my girls, wrote a very large number on the water-logged tip line, headed for the door and didn’t look back.
Thanks to Krista and Kayla for giving me permission to write this. Some day, we’ll look back, laugh and fantasize about how easy it was when we were only outnumbered 2 to 1…
And husbands, if you’re reading this, we’re serious about the going out just the three of us. You should coordinate it, and then all take the kids out to eat! It’s really not that bad.