For the past month or so, Husband and I have been trying to take the kids out to eat once a week. This has consisted of the wonderful Pan.era...until tonight.
Husband is Catholic and is trying to be good during Lent - this means no meat. So we decided to try a local Italian place (pasta, seafood...staying away from the meat...good little Catholic). We have gone here on several anniversaries and it's really good. The owner is very personable and we've always felt comfortable there (even though it's in a strip mall). We decided to go there tonight with the kids in tow...praying the whole 3 minute car ride there (at least I was).
We got there and we were seated right away - because seriously...who else goes to eat at 5:15? It was us and all of the Early Birds! We normally sit in the front dining room...so often that I have never even seen the back dining room, but we were quickly ushered through the front dining room (with two highchairs being wielded by the servers).
We removed chairs and switched place settings around while quickly removing jackets from our very interested little ones. Matthew couldn't stop looking around...there was candlelight, mirrors, fans, and all sorts of utensils that looked really fun to play with. Hailey was pretty nonplussed by the whole situation...I believe I heard her utter, "yeah, yeah, enough with the specials...where's the damn bread?" She was pretty unhappy that the fans were up so high and kept blowing back at them...no one messes with that girl.
We received our drinks and bread and the kids were happy. Matthew actually released a celebratory fart to demonstrate his happiness and then smiled sheepishly afterward. We ordered...seafood risotto for me, two crabcakes for Husband, and chicken tenders and raviolis for the kiddos. Now the wait...shit, did I bring books, toys, anything??? No. Shit. We're screwed...
The food took a little while to arrive and in the interim, a few other families had been seated. I'm sure we received some dubious looks, but I'm so oblivious to them at this point, that I didn't notice. Matthew was interacting nicely with a family behind us and seriously, Hailey could care less who thought she was cute. The food came, we split it up while our waitress waited patiently holding my risotto because there wasn't enough room on the table for all of our plates. Matthew actually used his fork. Hailey had filled up on bread and milk and really thought that all of her food was too hot (for those of you who read Friday's post...remember...she believes that her vajayjay is hot).
Husband and I ate in relative silence (except for the brilliant conversation that we are barely capable of anymore and the marked yelps of Matthew trying to get the busboys' attention). The kids were in awe of their food, other diners, the busboys, the candles (ours was out due to those powerful fans which they had since turned off...thank God). Our meals were great...a little more than we usually spend, but we had to try it out. I'm so glad we did. The kids were great...the meals was great...we left just in time (appetizers and desserts would have been out of the question). When Hailey was finished, she leaned way back in her high chair with a satisfied sigh...I half-expected her to stick her hands down her pants Al Bundy style. She was completely fulfilled (after all, she had injested half a lemon...no ravioli, but that lemon...ohh yeah).
We got our bill. While Husband settled the bill, Hailey and I made our way to the front of the restaurant. She was walking, so received many admiring looks from fellow Early Birders. She stopped to talk...refused to give a guy "five," and smiled at anyone that she felt was worthy. Husband and Matt quickly caught up with us and our new friends (the Early Birders) couldn't believe there were two. Not only that, but they were quite relieved that we didn't choose "matchy" names for the kids. That cracked me up!
We got into the car, praised the kids, breathed a sigh of relief, and gave each other a fist bump (with explosion...we're so queer) for a job well done.
I believe that doing this sort of thing early in their lives is a good idea b/c it gets them used to eating in different environments. I have heard that a lot of parents are hesitant b/c of how their children act at home (and believe me, mine are no angels...the very fact that we still have a huge, shedding, needy dog relies solely on the fact that she is a built in floor cleaner), but you gotta give it a shot, right? Now, we won't be going to this caliber of restaurant every week, but it's nice to know that if we were independently wealthy and had all the time in the world, we could...the odds of that happening? Outlook not so good (remember that damn Magic 8 Ball?).