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Dining Over Tears

Until tonight I never knew what it was like to be those parents in a restaurant. Five years ago, I would have sneered at the family next to me with a screaming baby, just as the college kids next to us did. Now, I empathize, sympathize and even try to console those moms who are going through the same thing as we went through tonight. We were loud, undoubtedly annoying to our waitress, and left a trail of cheerios, cheddar cheese, peas, bread and teething biscuits from the door to the table. We required booster seats, extra bread to keep the kids occupied, napkins and everything non-essential to consuming our meal to be taken away from the table. To an infant, sharp shiny objects are food. To a parent, they're lethal weapons being tossed at your head, on the ground or at the snooty college kids at the table next to us.

All of this being said, we've been very lucky (until tonight) that H-Man has behaved over dinner. Starting at 5:15 pm and ending an hour later,  H-Man cried, whined, screamed, screeched, threw food and tried desperately to flip over his booster seat. My husband and I played hot potato with baby while juggling glasses of wine and pasta. Who knew a great idea for family dinner could be such a chaotic and stressful hour!

The magical dining period of H-Man sleeping in the stoller or infant carrier is officially over! What do we do now? Should we keep H-Man at home until he's old enough to eat out? No. That would mean we'd live in hibernation for the next three years living off of take out and Trader Joe's. 

Another option would be to follow the French rules of parenting? After all, Bringing Up Bebe, essentially says that French parenting is superior to American because French children are more pleasant, their children eat all of their vegetables and use their manners. My child eats his vegetables, but he isn't old enought to speak or know right from wrong. Bringing Up Bebe isn't going to work for us.

Out of despearation and exhaustaion from playing hot potato with H-Man over dinner (and a very realistic need for my biceps to relax), what do we do now? We're asking you. What do we do to have a pleasant, relaxing, family dinner at 5:30 pm on a Friday night?


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