I remember a time in the not-so-distant past when going out to
eat was a relaxing occasion. My husband and I would stare across
the table at each other, maybe talk about our days or comment on
the conversations of those around us. I'd even venture to say that
sometimes we were bored.
Then we had kids.
We took our three kids out for breakfast the other morning.
Before arriving at the restaurant, I envisioned mostly cooperative
and obedient kids sitting quietly coloring while I leaned back in
my seat with a warm cup of coffee, sweetened with French vanilla
non-dairy creamer and my hand resting upon my rounded belly from
gorging on too many over-easy eggs, rye toast, and hash browns.
My vision was put to death as soon as we were seated when our
lovely children began arguing over who would sit where.
"I want to sit next to Mama!"
"Why does HE always get to sit next to you? Do you even love
"It's not fair!"
"I'm not gonna sit next to HER!"
Once our seating chart was settled via some under-table crawling
where our legs and feet seemed to double as bumpers in a pinball
machine, my 4-year-old daughter stood up in the booth to meet the
patrons at the tables around us. It was at that point that I
noticed her shorts were on backwards. I encouraged her to sit down
with a clipped, "Sit down!" and left her shorts as they were. I
would repeat those clipped words about eight more times as she
attempted to exchange pleasantries with our neighbors repeatedly.
And by "pleasantries" I mean, she might, at any point, say
something like "Hi, Stinky Head." No lie.
The waitress arrived and we gave her our order.
As we waited, my 4-year-old quickly became bored with the
coloring pages and crayons she had been given upon arrival. I
placed the holder full of jams and jellies in front of her to play
with thinking it would double as an educational activity of sorting
and stacking. As my head was turned, my daughter managed to stab a
number of the jellies with her fork. As I grabbed the fork to
prevent her from stabbing every last orange marmalade, I knocked
two half-full tubs of French vanilla non-dairy creamer over onto
the table. I threw my napkin over the spill and pretended like it
Our food arrived.
I cut my daughter's food and we all dug in. This is an actual
one-sided conversation I had with my children while we dined:
Don't ruin your straw. Don't ruin the lid. Put it down. Just put
it down! Stop talking with food in your mouth. Shoes go on the
floor. No talking with food in your mouth, please. Please turn
around. Please stop talking with food in your mouth. Wow, that
looks delic-PLEASE PUT THAT DOWN!
After a number of minutes of focusing on my own food, I looked
over to see how my daughter was doing. Good. She had eaten her
bacon and not another thing on her plate, other than the tub of
butter, a mini-pot of syrup, and the equivalent to three packets of
"You need to eat your eggs and pancakes." I said.
"Ohh, I full. 'Scusting eggs, Mama. 'Scusting."
We asked for a take-home container and put her remaining food in
it. My husband took my sons to pay the bill and my daughter
continued her attempts at greeting our neighbors. I maniacally
slurped down the rest of my coffee with one hand and dragged her
out of the booth with the other.
I look back at all those times I relaxed at breakfast and think
how little I appreciated them. And yet as much as I long for those
mornings, there's still something slightly endearing and amusing
about watching my three kids organize our seating chart, exchange
pleasantries with the neighbors and eat only butter, syrup and
ketchup for breakfast. And it gives me something to blog
Kate Hall is a married homeschooling mom to her three kids, all of which were adopted from China, living in the lovely suburbs of Chicago.
See more of Kate's stories here.
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