With apologies to Dirty Dancing fans for this (terrible) borrowing of phrase for reasons completely unrelated to Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Gray, and with apologies to the patrons of Buffalo Wild Wings in our Arkansas town last night from about 5:05-5:20pm…I humbly submit this post.
So last night, we were “those” parents, and Sawyer was “that” kid. All we wanted was to go to dinner with our children. That’s it. And Sawyer, who is only 18 months old, ruined it for not only our family but a few others as well. We have three children, and when we go out in public, there is a 70% chance that something will go wrong. I say 70% because I’m giving our seven-year-old daughter a slight chance of meltdown, while our two boys Sawyer and Tate (3.5yo) are still in the “Hey, stupid parents, why do you even try to go out in public with us?” phase.
I thought Sawyer could handle hanging out in a booth. There are five of us, but I sat with him and gave him free rein to run back and forth across the booth’s bench on our side. This should’ve been enough, but we also gave him crayons, crackers, milk, and everything short of mainlining chocolate syrup to keep him busy and quiet. He was having none of it.
Jeff: “Why do we never learn?!? What is the matter with us? We should just accept our fate and not go out to dinner until 2017!! Get him a high chair!”
Me: (scrambling to get a high chair, which I know will just further tick off the tiny terror I have somehow raised, apologizing to other diners as I walk past, Sawyer trailing behind me and screaming)
Jeff: “We are idiots. We should just stay home forever.”
Me: (shoving crackers into screaming kid’s mouth, which makes him cough, spit them out, and scream louder)
Jeff: “Take him out on the porch. Maybe he will calm down out there. You’d think that, just once, once we could go out to dinner and not have it go nuts. That possibly all five of us could sit at a table and quietly talk about our day. But noooooooo…..”
So, I take my ticked off toddler (and what little is left of my sanity) to the outside deck of BWW. It is very cloudy out here, as the patrons watching Sunday Night Football have particularly chosen this locale because the state of Arkansas is somehow back in the 1960s where people can still smoke in restaurants. Technically, we are both outside and yet still in the restaurant. So, Arkansas hasn’t yet made it to the 21st century, and people are eating, drinking (it’s windy and I’m sure ashes are flying into their food), and smoking, and I’m willing to take one for the team and smell like an ashtray this evening if Sawyer will just shut up.
He has a nice, big, smoky place to run around, and what does he do? He runs straight for the broken gate that leads into the parking lot. And screams again…louder… when I save him from the certain being-run-over-by-a-diesel-dualie” death that surely awaits him as he dashes for freedom. We stay for a minute, and I try to get him to calm down, but no go. I apologize to the very nice people who are smoking on the porch as I go back inside, having thrown Sawyer over my shoulder (screaming and kicking) like a sack of potatoes.
My eyes are glistening with tears. I am so embarrassed. I have lived through more than my fair share of the older two kids misbehaving, but they have a rational streak that has somehow escaped Rosemary’s Baby, here. A row of five bored waitresses looks on in horror. People are staring (not even stealing glances and pretending not to at this point…now we’re getting openly hostile looks in our direction). And then it happens.
I see a family of four whisper to their waitress. They pick up their food and drinks, and they walk past us, into the bar. They would rather take their kids into a bar and expose their Sprite-drinking daughters to the ills of beered up men yelling at Sunday Night Football than sit near us. Sawyer has cleared the room (metaphorically). There are still people in there with us, but they clearly don’t want to be, and who could blame them? I wouldn’t want to pay $50 for a meal and sit next to a screaming kid either.
Friends, I didn’t just put baby in the corner, I took him to the car. I left Jeff and the big kids to ask the waitress to please put all our food in to-go packages because we wouldn’t be staying. You’re welcome, everyone. I didn’t receive a standing ovation as I dragged my ill-tempered offspring to the car, but I believe that was only out of deference to the fallen soldiers (the rest of my family) I left behind in the restaurant.
Though I have described this event in excruciating detail, the reality was that it only took about fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes. And you know what? When we got to the car, Sawyer was fine, calmed down, and returned the demon that had possessed him to whatever messed up dimension it came from.
All we wanted was a meal together in a restaurant. Clearly, this was too much to ask.