So my mom offered to take us out to dinner tonight, as it's Valentine's Day and she didn't get around to getting us a gift card. We ah... converged on the Outback Steakhouse nearest us and settled into a booth one person too small (and none of the three adults is a small person). There was a bit of a wait - busy day of course - and Lizzy (3) was very excited. Abby (8) was full of chatter about their Valentine party at school, and her volume control was apparently busted tonight; perhaps it was the ambiance. All in all, it was your usual family meal out, assuming one of the participants is a very excited toddler. And it went like this:
Abby: Your turn in the dot game on the menu Mom.
Lizzy: I dwopped my Valentine pen! (ducks under the table)
Grandma: Get back up here and sit in this booster! (drags Lizzy up by both arms)
Dad: (shuffles chair, reads menu)
L: I dwopped a cwayon! (dives under table again, is caught by Grandma before she gets far)
A: MO-om! It's your TURN
M: Let's find out what we want to eat first.
A: Read it
M: YOU read it; I'll help you with the special words
A: Grilled Cheese-a-roo, Something what-is-that Chicken Fingers... ewww - chickens don't have fingers! Oh right, they're like nuggets only longer, Mac-a-roo and CHeese... I want that - Mac-a-roo and Cheese.
L: (dives under table, is caught by G)
M: You always want the mac-a-roo and cheese, every time we come.
A: I have to use the bathroom (waits for D to move his chair so M can slide out, takes off for the bathroom (which is in sight of the table))
M: *more facepalm*
L: (drops her cup of orange juice on the floor. Top pops off and there is OJ everywhere. G grabs her an instant before she dives after it)
A: (reappearing at table, dancing the have-to-go-NOW dance) I can't read the signs on the bathrooms - I think they're too fancy
M: Oh, you want the one that says "Sheilas".
D: (gets up to help her read the signs)
G: (still holding L by one arm so she won't - I don't know - lap up the OJ off the floor or something) What does the men's room say?
All Adults: (nodding) Oh right, Blokes, of course
Lizzy: I dwopped my juuuiiiiiice!
Waitress: Can I help? Oh, I see. I'll call a busser
Busser: (appears with a pile of rags, dives under table)
M: (head in hands at this point)
A: (squirming back into her seat) Here, look at this cool light-up pen I got for Valentine's Day (bounces it on underside of table so it lights up) Is that better light for you?
Busser: (muffled voice, slightly surprised sounding) Yeah, actually it is (crawls out from under table)
D: (scoots his chair back in, sighs)
W: (Brings cup of water for L, smiles, plunks bread down on table) Anything else I can do while your food is cooking?
Adults: No thanks
A: NOW can it be your turn?
M: I don't want to play, okay?
G: Abby, it's too chaotic for you mom to play with you right now
W: (brings food) Here you go!
L: Oh, it's my food! My food my food my food!
Everyone: Nom nom nom
Dr: Hi! Can I take your order?
(It's the kids' backup pediatrician; our regular doc is at branch of Pacific Medical Centers a few miles away, but this guy works at the one nearer us and we go to him for urgent care)
M: Hi, Doctor C! Honey, this is the pediatrician we use when Doctor R is not available.
Dr: You kids eating all your veggies?
M: (thinking, oh great the ONE time the kids have no veggies with their meal we run into their doctor, smiles weakly)
Dr: My table's ready. Have a good rest of the night!
W: Anyone want Dee Ee Ess Ess Arr Tee?
Adults: Thanks but no
G: (hands credit card to W) Let's try to expedite our checkout a little
I didn't mention the other twelve or so times Lizzy tried to dive under the table, or Abby's hair getting into her mac-a-roo and cheese, or the other time she had to rearrange everyone to go to the bathroom AGAIN. And yet, we had fun. It was a little more chaotic than I'd like, but hey, I have great steak/onion/mushroom leftovers for lunch tomorrow.. All is well.