I’m Taking My Toddler To A Restaurant Even If He Gets On Your Nerves

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shutterstock_136330388One of the unexpected highlights of being a parent is how much you lower your expectations. Hear me out. It used to be that I could go out and get crazy any time I damn well pleased. If I wanted to sit down and eat in a fast food restaurant with a fork and a knife, it was my prerogative. If I wanted to plan a decadent dinner out with a date or girlfriends, then I had more than a few hours to kill.

Today, time is scarce. Scarcer than I ever thought it could be. My kids have been sick for the past few weeks, in the heat of the Texas summer, which gives me some kind of reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. We can hardly get out of the house, and when we do, we face a blazing hot inferno, hot as the face of the sun. When the kids are sick, we hardly leave the house anyway—I just turn on Caillou and take turns wiping snot off their little faces.

I really, really love having kids. In fact, even though my single days were footloose and fancy-free, I would never go back. But I have also lowered my expectations dramatically because now, anything I do outside of the house is ABSOLUTELY FUCKING AMAZING. Perfect example: We went to get froyo as a family a few months ago, and I’m still talking about it. It was that good.

I have two toddlers, so if I want to go out and have a good time, I’m going to have to bring my kids with me. I actually like doing this because I didn’t spend much time with my parents when I was a kid; a restaurant family dinner is something I have always dreamed of. However, I didn’t account for the fact that this beautiful picture would also include two restless toddlers who literally stand in their high chairs and throw shit at me.

My kids aren’t ill-behaved monsters, they are just toddlers. While I know that many families decide to put off the novelty of going to a restaurant together until their kids are out of the highchair-throwing-food phase, I refuse to throw in the towel. We still go to restaurants together, often, but I try to time it just right. We normally hit up a restaurant before the dinner rush and try to sit out on the patio, where our kids can throw rocks and pick up trash to their hearts’ content.

Whenever we are seated inside, my husband and I keep a hawk-eye on our sons. (As former servers and bartenders, we know the drill.) At the first sign of a wail or a fist clenched and ready to throw a piece of chicken at another table, we intercept. We take them outside if necessary. I know that two high-energy kids could potentially annoy other diners, but I’m doing my part as a self-aware parent. I’m not having fun at family dinner yet, but I’m not going to stop taking my kids out to eat.

(Image: Chubykin Arkady/Shutterstock)