Tonight we went out to dinner at CPK with Ricky's family. All in all it was a successful dinner without any major melt downs. However, going out to dinner takes lots of strategic planning on my part. We have to start off giving Noah crayons and the kids menu which lasts about 3 minutes. We, hope that the server comes and takes our drink order during this time and I pray that everyone makes up their mind about what they are going to eat by the time the server gets back. (If someone is not ready to order, I move my son next to that person so they can deal with him at the end of the meal.) Right about the time the drinks come (if the server is good), Noah begins to draw on the table and eat the crayons (and tonight he made dents in the table by banging a spoon against it...sorry CPK). This is the signal to move on to feeding him his dinner. I am usually trying to cover up Noah's crayon marks (or dents) on the table as I tell the server what I want. I then take the crayons away, pray with Noah, and begin to feed him his dinner. If I time it just right and the cooks are quick, our food will come just as I am finishing feeding my son. I pull out the finger foods that I can set in front of him and he eats by himself so I can eat my dinner. Most of the time this food ends up smooshed in between his fingers, in his hair and all over the floor. I shovel my food into my own mouth trying to finish as quickly as possible in the short amount of time I have while he makes a mess (usually I have my other child attached to my boob at this point). After about 7 minutes of mess making, Noah will say "dow?" He wants to get down, but no one is ready to leave. This is when we give him a kids cup with water and a straw which lasts for another 5 minutes, then the inevitable "dow?" comes again. I pull out the last of my bag of tricks, grapes. I give them to him very slowly and hope that everyone will finish eating and the server will bring the check. On a good day, the server is quick, and we get out of the restaurant without a scene. On a bad night, Noah has a melt down and screams to get down, and when we let him down he visits other tables by standing right at their table and staring at them as they eat. I have to then interrupt Maia from her "meal" to get Noah and apologize to the table while Maia screams.
Needless to say, I don't enjoy eating out anymore. I usually don't remember how my food tasted after we go out because I just tried to get it down as fast as I could in my limited amount of time. Dining out with small children is an art. It requires strategy, planning, and meticulous timing. Do any of you mothers feel this way?