Dear Waiter, I am Sorry.
You see us coming when we walk into the restaurant, the enormous stroller with a howling toddler and a larger toddler who is wearing a batman cape. And you pray, you pray that we are seated in someone else’s section. You see my husband who looks as if he has been stricken with Ebola or some other horrific flesh-eating fatal disease, the pain on his face of what is to come. And then you and I make eye contact and I try to offer my sympathies and tell you, I am right there with you. I don’t want to be here anymore than you want me to here. But sometimes, on those rare and terrible occasions you need to bring your whole family to a restaurant for a family meal. The concept of family meals sounds so cute and wholesome, but let’s be honest: this is really how it goes.
You, poor waiter, try to figure out where to park my enormous stroller with the giant footboard where my older one stands. You size it up, realizing this thing doesn’t collapse and it’s like parking a minivan in a spot for a Mini Cooper. When we finally are seated, you are cursing us already. I get it. I would curse me too. I suck. But this ain’t no picnic for me either.
When we try to shove TIT in the highchair, he screams. Why wouldn’t he scream when it looks so much more fun for a 15 month old to run around a restaurant and inspect everything from the gum under the table to the swinging kitchen doors? And of course the strap on the highchair is broken because when have you ever gone to a restaurant where the strap works. “Screw it,” Matt says. “Just put him in there. He won’t jump out. YOU can just entertain him.” Fun for me!!!
But waiter, I have got some helpful hints for you that may make this process go a little smoother for everyone:
11. My 15 month old, The TIT, doesn’t need a full utensil set up. Please don’t give him a knife and a fork. He will only use these objects as projectiles or as weapons to stab at his parents or his brother. While he does have some decent fine motor skillz, cutting steak with a steak knife isn’t one of them.
22. If you have crayons! Awesome! But again, don’t give them to TIT because he will eat them and poop out rainbow colored waxy poop which will make me freak out and call the pediatrician because I would have completely forgotten that he ate the crayons because I would have buried this whole experience in my subconscious moments after we leave. If you give Crayons to the Commander and a sheet with princesses to color assume that shit won’t fly with him and he will most likely color your walls drawing an Angry Bird scene which will look nothing like an Angry Bird scene but more like huge swipes and black and red marks. I apologize for not watching him more closely but your highchair has no buckle and I need to keep my eye peeled for TIT trying to make his escape head first out of the highchair.
33. Let me also suggest that you need not provide glassware to either of my children. We BYOSC (bring our own sippy cups). That just seems obvious and I don’t think I need to elaborate here on why that’s not going to work out in your favor. But let’s just say broken glass makes a lot of noise and will be even MORE disrupting to your other customers than what is coming anyway.
44. Let me give you a heads up. If you see a group of moms with multiple kids coming. First of all, don’t shake your head in despair. And if you go and set up the table, you cannot put all the highchairs in a row on one side of the table. It needs to go: mom, baby, mom, baby. Babies can’t feed themselves and far worse, they can’t feed each other. So lets save some headache for the table rearrange and set it up correctly the first time.
55. When we order alcohol, bring it fast. VERY fast. We obviously need it. We will be more patient and better parents for the rest of the meal.
66. You may not want to seat us next to men in suits. Food flies. Enough said.
I do my best to respect other diners when we attempt this family meal. We don’t take our kids out to a fancy French restaurant at 8pm on a Saturday night. We eat when ancient people eat, at 5pm when most of the wait staff is setting up for the real people coming later. So really, I feel no need to apologize to other diners who decided to eat at 5:30 on a Tuesday night. I am sorry my kids are loud and the Commander is jumping on the banquet in his cape swinging his imaginary web slinger towards your table. And I feel a little bad that the TIT is making loud stabbed seal noises and throwing pasta and broccoli. But if you feel the need to condemn my mothering, don’t expect me to be silent. Yea, I mean you – you nasty old hag at El Vez who screamed at the Commander. It’s not your job to parent my kids, focus on your taco and Shut the Fuck up!
Also, waiter – we aren’t looking for a “dining experience”. Don’t feel the need to bring the courses slowly. Just slap that shit down as fast as it can get out of the kitchen. If we order appetizers it’s only because we are super hungry and because we haven’t eaten since our 5 am breakfast. We don’t want our kids meals to come out with our entrees. Just bring it all out at the same time and get it out fast! Raw chicken is fine! But while you are at it, if you can just take all the piping hot items and toss them in the freezer for a minute. I give you this advice because it really is a horrible sight when you see a tiny toddler take a big bite of scorching hot chicken fingers only to scream in excruciating pain because it’s burning.
Please don’t judge us when my toddler is playing with hand sanitizer foam and finger painting on the table because I forgot to reload the toy portion of my diaper bag. If there are no matchbox cars for TIT then I need to improvise. Necessity is the mother of all inventions and I am one fucking innovative mom. “Give him something to play with,” Matt says as the TIT is trying to reach for the salt and peppershakers. I start digging through my bag, only realize what was once in there has been lost or just gone. So I get real creative and I put some hand sanitizing foam on the table in front of him and let him finger-paint. I think, whoa I am brilliant! Not only is kid entertained for the next 37 seconds, but also he will have germ free hands. I fucking rock!!
The Commander, if he doesn’t have an Ipad, because Mommy forgot to pack for this meal like a trans-Atlantic migration, makes his own fun under the table. I am not sure exactly what is going on under there, but he hasn’t bitten my ankle and nothing has broken so I don’t see the harm in letting him hang out in the “ice cave” under the table and eating whatever TIT discarded on the ground or the kid before him, or the kid before him. So consider we may be actually helping clean in hard to reach places. Please don’t shoot me nasty looks because I am going to come over and slap you on the back so your face freezes like that. And if TIT does escape from his highchair, which is bound to happen, just smile at him when we walk back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, looking at what’s on our neighbors plates and at all the exciting things on the servers’ stand. We are trying to be fast about this. I swear! You can tell by the forkful of salad in my one hand as I am wandering around the restaurant eating and chasing TIT.
Dear Waiter, your goal should be to get us out of the restaurant with as little carnage as possible and as fast as possible. Thank us for providing you with free birth control. Most likely after your shift, you are not going to want to have any unprotected sex. We have put off parenting in your mind for another 10 years. I am sorry for the debris minefield of food, but you knew that was coming. And yes, we always tip well! If I have made it through the meal unscathed without any major malfunction, I am grateful to you and my fellow diners. And you deserve your 25%, you earned it.