When You Take a Toddler Out to Dinner

3 years ago

When you take a toddler out to dinner—past her bedtime.

She will demand to hold her cup of chocolate milk all by herself, and drink from the neon blue bendy straw. You give in because you don’t want to start a battle before you have even decided what you want for dinner. And almost on queue she attempts to tip the cup upside down and you rush to save it, mentally kicking yourself because you knew she would do that.

She will begin to go stir crazy, pushing at the paltry high chair restraints. Twisting this way and that and attempting to stand. You become winded and frustrated trying to contain this ball of energy. Eventually resorting to feeding her some of your passion fruit tea from your straw. The novelty of it buying you a few moments that you hope lasts until dinner is served.

Credit: Jūlija Mazhora.

Finally dinner is served, and the child’s plate is placed in front of her. You hope for a few moments of peace while she eats dinner and you can dig into yours. But with her psychic abilities, she knows you have entered into a sense of security and she reacts. Violently pushing her plate of food toward the end of the table and you just narrowly save it—she doesn't know how much this “child’s plate” costs.

She then picks up your spoon and begins devouring your salad. Because apparently she likes salad, especially salad eaten from your spoon, and with a slightly spicy dressing. She is spilling food everywhere, but is eating and is quiet. So you let it go, knowing that is some dark corner the wait staff is cursing you.

She sets the spoon aside, and settles for eating the salad straight from the plate all while holding your hand. It apparently tastes even better this way.

Once she is done, and you feel as though all of your energy has been completely sucked from your being, she picks up the napkin and begins to play peek-a-boo. Redeeming her in your eyes, and in the eyes of the wait staff. You sit back and share a smile with your husband, the earlier moments of terror forgotten as you sigh in content over the wonderfulness of your little one.

Than it is time to go.

Your toddler is now beyond over tired. You take the last sip of your drink which is the signal for your daughter to pitch herself into a full blown tantrum. Your husband gives you the “’I’ll pay, you go and try to distract her” look.

You wrestle her out the door as she screams and tries to hit you. You think the wait staff should really offer you a free piece of cheesecake for your struggles, because even though you are on a diet, and your child left half your salad on the floor, that would be really nice of them. But no! No cheesecake, just a tantrum throwing daughter. Some people throw you an I-understand-your-struggle smile and you feel peace. Others throw you the what-the-hell-are-you-doing-eating-dinner-this-late-with-a-toddler?-You-get-what-you-deserve look and you know they are right, but it seemed like a great idea an hour or was it two hours ago? (You also no longer have any sense of time.)

You manage to get her into her car seat, which is the equivalent of wrestling a wild swan into a car seat. Her screams escalate, and you feel awful for the overwhelming and hard time she is having. You kiss her head and avoid her flying fists. Your husband jumps into the driver seat as you drag your weary body into the passenger seat. You both turn to look into the backseat as you suddenly realize it has gone silent.

She is sleeping. Fast asleep, lightly snoring and drooling.

You turn back around and your husband reaches for your hand. You sigh, looking back once again on the beautiful sleeping child, and think what a great night it was and how nice it was to finally go out.

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