Friday, December 18, 2009

It Could Only Happen To Me...

This is the story of how my romantic brithday dinner turned into every parent's nightmare.

Let me set the scene for you. We are in a recession. As a mother on a budget, I have not eaten a good meal in some time. By good meal, I mean at a real restaurant, where real food is served with real silverware. By some miracle, for the second year in a row, I received a coupon for a free entree at Saskatoon, a local steakhouse where the steaks have been voted Best of Greenville for several years running. Last year I couldn't go because I was a bedraggled disaster who, along with my two children, was in the grip of the norovirus for much of December. The last thing on my mind was food. But this year, I was out of the weeds, and desperate to get out of the house. The availability of the coupon coincided nicely with tonight's Parents Night Out at our gym, so, with childcare lined up, and a free entree in my future, I was all psyched and ready to go have a romantic birthday dinner with Tom.

Every year I think to myself, "This is the year my Christmas Eve birthday is not going to suck." But this was not my year...

Because not only did my coupon coincide nicely with Parents Night Out, it also coincided nicely with a freak snowstorm in the general-area-north-of-Greenville which caused all of the areas south of Greenville to do the Southern-My-God-It's-Snowing-Somewhere-Let's-All-Run-Around-Crazy-Like-Headless-Chickens-The-Apocalypse-Is-Nigh-Snow-Dance. This is why I called the gym as soon as I heard Greenville County Schools were sending kids home early to inquire if Parents Night Out was still on. It was, much to my relief.

Let me set another scene for you.

Tom and I are sitting across a candlelit table from each other. I have made it out of the house with only one small snot stain on my arm, and it is hardly noticeable. My hair is styled. I am wearing makeup for only the second time in the last six months. Tom and I have just placed our orders (for a sirloin and a prime rib, respectively)and we are laughing because one of us said something clever with their adult brain, and not because someone knee-high just used a bowl as his hat.

I look around the festively decorated restaurant, enjoying the roaring fire in the fireplace, the hunting lodge-like atmosphere, and the festive garlands and tiny red bows adorning the animals mounted to the walls, and say, "This is just perfect. We can eat in peace tonight. It feels like Christmas is supposed to feel. It's so festive in here and the weather outside is crappy..."

And Tom no sooner says the words "So, the weather outside is frightful?" And we're about to get witty again, when the hostess shows up at our table with a cordless phone...

It is 6:52. The weather is getting worse. A spur-of-the-moment decision has been made to close the gym at 7. We have 8 minutes to get from our restaurant on Haywood Rd, Greenville, to our gym in downtown Simpsonville. And anyone who knows anything about Haywood Road at Christmastime knows it will easily take us that long to get out of the parking lot.

We flag down our waiter, who is just bringing out our salads. Explain the situation. Say we will come all the way back to the restaurant after we pick up the boys and take our order to go, that we have a 3 year old and a 1 year old and they do not want them in their fine establishment. Nonsense, says the waiter. The owners have kids. Bring the kids. We now have 2 minutes to get across town in a downpour of sleet, so we don't argue. Fine. We'll bring the kids in.

And off we go.

The whole way back to the restaurant, we impress upon Sam that we are going to a "Mommy and Daddy restaurant" and he must be as big a boy as he knows how to be. "Please try to act like a six-year-old," I implore him.

All I will say is big mistake. Sam and John, in the glow of the candlelight, re-enacted the mashed potato scene from A Christmas Story with their $5 plate of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Sam belched loudly and unabashedly. John decided to scream for fun. I know people were thinking exactly what I was thinking, "What kind of idiots think *this* fine establishment is appropriate for small children?" We wolfed down our (excellent) steaks aa we tried to prevent the boys from juggling the steak knives and setting napkins on fire. Then we booked it out of there without even considering the six mouthwatering dessert selections.

We came home, put the boys to bed, and bemoaned our seemingly endless streak of bad luck when it comes to these things, and then we went to sleep.

12am. John wakes up screaming. Stupid stupid amoxicillan is not making Baby Boy feel any better, and he is completely stopped up with postnasal crud. Since the dogs interpret stirring in the middle of the night with a trip outside, Tom and I stagger downstairs, him to tend to the dogs, me to retrieve a sippy cup. I sit down on the couch with John, but keep hearing wailing that I think must be Sam. I head up the stairs. It's not Sam. Sam is asleep. Sammy, however, has come inside and is howling just outside his door.

When Lassie howled outside someone's door, it was because Timmy had fallen in the well. When Sammy howls outside someone's door, it's so he can jump on their bed and puke on their comforter.

Yes, boys and girls, no Brittany tale of woe would be complete without some vomit.

The story of my life...


  1. I wish I could babysit for you so you could go out and try again. They needed to keep the kids in there like it was a natural disaster and not let them out! We are now dealing with having to take a 15 month old out to the nutcracker tomorrow because we can't find a babysitter that has had the flus. She is getting over one kind we aren't sure.

  2. oh dear.

    i am on the verge of tears, both for the dire situation and the situational comedy.

    so so sorry. one day, the boys will go to college. i promise.

  3. I made my husband read this. Just to prove that we are NOT the only people who cannot bring our children to restaurants. It inspired him to tell his own story about being out with them today. And to tell his brother if he ever has a child? To leave it at A child.

    Which, I realize for those of us who JUST HAD to provide a sibling for that child, is small comfort. Therefore I am with Cathy.

    I'd offer to swap childcare with you but that would leave each of us with FOUR boys at some point... could we manage, you think?

  4. i know i read a blog somewhere today or yesterday about how wonderful it was the mother had her kids so close together and how it was now starting to finally pay off....oh yea, jen johnson at mama's magic. maybe it will help to read that. although she has a boy and a girl....

    but to take my comment earlier down a notch: my boys are a wee bit farther apart and there are still disagreements, and at restaurants, but largely, once they were both in school, minus s's aspies issues, otherwise gone into elsewhere, they really aren't anywhere near the tag team of destruction and tantrums they once were.

    now baby c....she's a whole new ball of wax on her own, at least she's the only one in diapers. she wouldn't take a nap all day today which made her cahraaa-zahy! but for once she was asleep by 830 rather than 1030 or 11...last night she made it to midnight.

  5. oh and yes, a couple of hours of 4 boys is still kharmicly less than all day with no break for 2.

    you each could easily handle that. (says a woman who did a lot of multi-kid nannying when boys were little)

  6. Well, in my boys' defense, their behavior wasn't HORRIBLE--and would've actually been considered good at a place like McDonalds. It was just that their toddler-ness was magnified about a billion-fold in the niceness of that restaurant (but at least there were vinyl tablecloths on the table. It wasn't a white linen kind of place--but that was a very small consolation).

    Amy and Christa, I appreciate your willingness to take my children off my hands. You don't know what you're suggesting, but I appreciate it anyway. :-P (And I'm pretty sure 4 against 1 is disallowed under some Geneva Convention mandate. LOL)

    You probably can't hear my bemusement about all of this. I mean, yes, my evening sucked on many, many levels. But this sort of thing happens to me (and Tom) with such frequency, that at this point all we can really do is sit back and enjoy the show--wondering how absurd it's going to get this time around.

    And of course my mantra is always, "More writing fodder. More writing fodder..."

    I figure at the rate I'm going, it's either a psychotic break or a best seller. :-P

  7. Amy, how did the Nutcracker turn out? We took John (18 mo) with us to see The Princess and the Frog, and he did really well until almost the end when he got restless and Tom had to go buy him a snack. After that, he perked right up and finished the movie no problem. I'm hoping you had similar good luck.

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