Saturday, May 22, 2010

Public Service Announcement

This afternoon, my husband and I and our 3 kids met another couple and their 2 kids at a local restaurant for an impromptu lunch. Now, I tend to think my kids are incredibly well-behaved and know how to act in a restaurant, but I also know that every child has his/her limits. My kids are still quite young, so their limits are that much more, for lack of a better word, limited.

Prior to motherhood, I worked a variety of jobs. Most of them were restaurant-based. I've washed dishes, cooked, waited tables, run food, tended bar, managed. Pretty much anything you can do in a restaurant, I've done. With that being said, I have very specific expectations of my children when they are in restaurants, because I've been on the other side of the equation. You know...the side that has to clean up the smashed Saltines, the plates filled with various liquid substances, the tables covered in unknown goo.

And so, dear readers, I offer you this public service announcement. Please feel free to pass along these helpful hints to your family and friends and any stranger on the street. Your local service industry worker will love you all the more for it.

1. While you may think your children are God's gift to this earth, your server could pretty much care less. Your server is there because it is his/her job, not because s/he is extra excited to see your kid, who is more likely than not, going to make a mess in said server's section.

2. Maintain your child. Request a booth, if at all possible, and put your children ON THE INSIDE. As you well know, children have a tendency to escape small areas and sitting on the outside of a bench is simply too much for their little bodies to bear. They must escape, in which case, they run the risk of being run into by someone carrying a tray full of heavy plates containing (hopefully) hot food or a bevy of beverages in hefty glassware. If you don't want your kid to get clonked in the head with a steaming plate of hot turkey sandwich, put them on the inside of the table. Now, I'm not saying you, the parent, won't get clonked in the head with a steaming plate of hot turkey sandwich covered in gravy, but if you're nice to your server, you stand a pretty good chance of a safe delivery.

3. The restaurant does not stock Saltines in order to appease your child's pre-meal appetite. Bring your own snacks. And if your kid spills said snack all over the floor, apologize for the mess and tip a little extra.

4. Use plates. I'm assuming your child eats off a plate at your house. Same rules apply in a restaurant. And if your kid refuses to comply and makes a huge mess all over the table, again, apologize and tip a little extra. Are you seeing a pattern here?

5. If your kid turns into a screaming banshee over the course of the meal and people are starting to stare, take the kid out of the restaurant. People will love you for it and most of them will give you sympathetic smiles as you walk past, as opposed to murderous stares if you stay. Kids have fits. People know that. People understand that. People do not need to be subjected to it longer than necessary though.

6. Yes, your child should eventually learn to order for him/herself. But if it's an hour before a hockey game, the restaurant is jam-packed, and your server is running around frantically trying to keep all his/her customers happy, now is NOT the time to encourage little Jimmy to practice his ordering skills. Just place the order and be done with it.

7. The steps in any restaurant are not your child's personal playground. Especially if your child is a toddler. Do you have any idea how many shoes have stepped in God knows what before you let your child crawl up those stairs? You cannot be certain those wet spots are water, people, and little Suzie isn't legally allowed to drink until she's 21. Shudder.

8. Don't blame your server when your child's chicken fingers are delivered and they're hot. Hello! They're cooked in a vat of hot oil! They're gonna be hot.

9. If you're eating at a place that serves liquor, chances are good it doesn't serve chocolate milk or apple juice. If your kid's gonna have a fit, bring your own. No, your server won't make it for you "special." And believe me, you don't want to be messing with "special" orders, particularly on a busy night. You've seeing "Waiting".

10. Even if your kid is really good and does well in a restaurant, they can only stay for so long. Keep that in mind when you order. If you have to eat in shifts, do it. If you're extra smart, you'll order the kid's food when you place your drink order. That way you won't have to deal with hungry kid. Sure, when your food comes, you'll have to deal with fidgety kid, but that's a whole lot easier that dealing with cranky, hungry kid. And no, you won't get to eat your food when it's hot, because you'll be dealing with fidgety kid, but you're the one who wanted to go to a restaurant. What did you expect?

And always remember people:

When in doubt, tip a little more.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Some of you may think Mother's Day is a Hallmark holiday. Apparently, we have a woman named Anna Jarvis to thank for the holiday and not Hallmark. See her story here:

Regardless about how the holiday came about, I've just got to say:

Hell, yes, I deserve a day dedicated to me!

And who am I, you may ask? Well, I'll tell you:

I'm the woman who carried you for 9 months. I didn't have morning sickness...but I could have.

I'm the woman who suffered through sleep deprived nights before you even arrived. I let you kick me in the liver, dance on my bladder and bruise my ribs.

I let you suck the blond out of my hair (I still miss it sometimes), make me look like an idiot for 9 months because I was too freaked out to color my hair while you were inside me and dealt with the fact that I shed like a woolly mammoth for months after you were born.

I let you exit my body the "natural" way. And let me tell you, there's nothing natural about 10 cm, salad tongs, vacuums, episiotomies, stitches in the lady parts, the post-partum poop episode(S) or post-partum hemorrhoids.

I let you eat from my body. That is wacky in a way nothing else can be considered wacky...and let me just mention - bloody nipples.

I let you wake me up whenever you want. For as long as you wanted.

I clean up god knows what just came out of your body. From either end. All over me.

These are just a few of the things I do and/or have done for you. And, yes, I do them willingly and with love. But that doesn't mean I don't like a little thank you now and then.

If you are a mom, Happy Mother's Day to you. If you have a mom, Happy Mother's Day to her. Believe me, you and she deserve it.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My Biggest Fear

My (current) biggest fear is that I will have to drive a minivan...and soon. But this makes it all a little better:

Monday, May 3, 2010

Off Her Game

A friend of mine came over on Friday evening. She brought her 3 kids with and all the kids "ate" dinner together. The babies hung out together on the floor, the 3 girls ran around the house in various states of undress and the 2-year old boy chased my cat for about an hour. The mom and I shared a glass of wine, which consisted of about 3 sips apiece by the time she and the kids got back in the car. It was a chaotic evening, but exactly what one would expect from a house filled with 6 kids, ages 4 and under, at the dinnertime hour.

Later that night, I got an email from my friend in which she apologized for the chaos and for being "off her game."

I promptly returned her email and informed her there was no need for an apology and I had no idea she was even close to off her game.

Here's the thing moms: No one knows when you're off your game. You might feel like you've lost all control, you might be more sensitive to the noise at a certain point, you might feel like you're chewing glass, but no one else can tell. Sure, if you're screaming and the neighbors down the street can hear you, then you've entered into the danger zone. Child services may be on their way. But if you're doing the job, the kids are fed, butts are clean and at least 1 of your 3 children are smiling, on a rotating basis, then you're good. You might not feel good, but they do.

And there's no need to apologize for that.