Every Thursday, my husband works late, and I take our daughters out to dinner. We usually go to a fast-food place that I probably can’t plug on the internet. (But I will give you a hint: America’s favorite carbohydrate is part of the logo). I seem to suffer from a specific brand of Mommy Memory that fades the details of our weekly debacle. Each time, I hold onto the naïve expectation that this will go well. I’ll keep you posted if it happens. Until then, this is usually how we roll:
1) Pick up children from daycare.
2) Attempt to strap Toddler into her car seat. Dodge flailing body parts. Miscalculate and get kicked in the shoulder. Make mental note to write strongly worded letter to Stride Rite re: sneaker weight.
3) Evil Genius 3 year-old locates my phone and gets past the security code. She calls several friends on my contact list, says hello, and hangs up. Phone is now frantically ringing as everyone calls me back.
4) Bribe 3 year-old with the promise of a pastry of her choice if she will relinquish the phone. She trades the phone for a pumpkin muffin. Fair deal.
5) Drive to destination. Point out trees, school buses, trucks, stop signs, and other points of interest.
6) Arrive at destination. Park badly. Two spaces is the new legal?
7) Toddler vehemently insists that we bring Blankie with us. Sigh. Know that she will throw it on the ground approximately 527 times, and then insist that it be picked up.
8) Wait on line. Answer “Can we get our food now?” every .02 seconds.
9) Order. Stop midsentence several times to ask 3 year-old not to touch gift cards / spin in circles / give our address to the shady character behind us.
10) The cashier announces that there are no more pumpkin muffins. Chaos ensues. Promise a cookie / princess castle / Shetland pony to the 3 year-old if she will choose something else off the menu.
11) 3 year-old weighs options. Smile helplessly at disgruntled customers in line behind us. A bagel versus grilled cheese is a hard decision!
12) Pay in cash while holding Toddler. Stuff bills into pockets. Drop all coins on the floor.
13) Locate and claim a table. Ignore the appalled looks of old couple nearby. Sorry, buddy, but if I have to pay your Social Security, you have to listen to my overtired kids for ten minutes.
14) Drag highchair across the room while carrying Toddler and 3 year-old is clinging to my jacket pocket. Notice that restaurant staff watches the scene, but no one actually moves to assist.
15) Arrive at the counter when my name is called, still carrying Toddler and holding 3 year-old’s hand. Ask to have food brought out to our table. Listen to grumbling from employees behind the counter. (Madness! They’d have to carry my tray eight whole feet!) Thank the newbie that was forced to make the journey.
16) Fill water cups one-handed. 3 year-old insists that she carry them herself. Water spills on the floor. Repeat.
17) Install Toddler into high chair. Move all silverware and other potential projectiles out of reach.
18) Give sandwich to 3 year-old. Watch her inspect the surface area of the bread for burned specks and other imperfections. Offer prayers to several deities that she will eat.
19) Cut up fruit and sandwich for the Toddler. Toddler throws food as it is being sliced. Use Spidey sense to catch pieces before they land on the floor.
20) The 3 year-old announces that she is done and wants to go home. Right now. Glance at my untouched plate. Sigh. Commence eating via shovel method.
21) Blink. Discover that Toddler has used this unsupervised time to throw the remains of her fruit at her sister and instead has opted to eat her napkin.
22) Remove the Toddler from her high chair. Toddler starts to cry.
23) 3 year-old announces “IT’S A POOP CRY! THE BABY IS POOPING!” in a decibel level comparable to a sonic boom. Ignore hostile stares from other patrons.
24) Gather garbage and make weak attempt to bus the table.
25) Gather children and their respective jackets, cups, and leftovers. Escape. Pretend not to hear the collective sigh of relief behind me.
But you know what? After a long day of work and rush hour traffic… it still beats cooking!
By Rachel Minkowsky
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