I make bad choices. I do.
Sometimes, they involve attempting to snow shoe with three children small enough to throw regular temper tantrums based on their level of personal (dis)comfort with the cold. See photo below:
(This was about fifteen steps from the car.)
Sometimes, the bad choices involve bringing aforementioned young children to an upscale sushi joint, in an attempt to override the monotony that is March. I don’t have a picture of that one to show you. Primarily because I couldn’t maneuver the phone camera while yelling at Ben to “STOP BITING THE SEAT CUSHION!” It was just that horrid.
In both of these situations, and in many, many others, I set myself up for failure. Most parents of young children recognize the limitations that having wee ones imposes on activities of daily living. I am not one of them. I swing for the fences. I fly too close to the sun on wings of pastrami (thank you, George Costanza) wearing stupidly rosy-colored glasses.
In the case of the sushi restaurant, just this past weekend, I had decided that Ben and Chloe had reached the age of (semi?) self control… that they were capable of veering from our usual dining experience at The 99 or Panera, instead enjoying an evening at one of my absolute favorite restaurants. Rob and I used to go regularly before kids, and, to be honest, I just REALLY wanted to go. I thought that the kiddos would be completely intrigued by the novelty of the experience. I have high expectations of my brood.
We arrived ten minutes late for our reservation and were ushered directly to our tatami booth, right next to the sushi prep area. Score! Ben and Chloe and Maddie excitedly removed their shoes and climbed in. Enamored with the warm washcloths, they bathed themselves more thoroughly than I’ve ever seen them do. I smiled, murmuring to Chloe that yes, the towel DID feel nice and warm on our ice cold hands. About a minute passed. Suddenly, Ben spotted the napkin wrapped chopsticks. In slow motion, he grabbed for them, and I knew that there was no place to go but into the depths of twin-preschooler-restaurant hell. I’ve been at this hellish threshold so many times before… one would think I’d have better coping skills for the heat.
For the next twenty minutes, while we waited for our food, Rob and I alternately played defense against the onslaught of chopsticks, ice cubes, lemon wedges, and flailing limbs. Ben discovered that he could crawl under the table and sit in the recesses of the floor, occasionally reaching up to bite the cushions. Maddie sat looking nervous and angelic. I gritted my teeth and whisper-screamed that “we- will- leave- this- restaurant- right- now- if- this- behavior- does- not- stop” It was as if the twins knew that I would sooner have stabbed myself in the eye with one of their chopsticks than leave the restaurant once sushi had been ordered… that’s the amount of heed they paid to my words. Sometimes, I swear they mock me.
I became increasingly aware of those around us. Because, you see, I’ve been in their shoes too. The parents who FINALLY get a night out, only to get to the restaurant and wind up directly next to the kiddie apocalypse. I took comfort in the fact that I had reserved a far-removed booth for the specific purpose of not ruining another parent’s night.
Still, every time the twins jumped on the seat, or pounded their glasses on the table, or poked each other with chopsticks, or kicked the booth, or yelled in an outside voice about how “THAT COOKER MAN HAS A GREAT BIG KNIFE” I came a little bit closer to a complete psychotic break.
“Just Once!” I hissed at Rob. “Just once I’d like to be able to go out as a family and NOT have it be a cluster(cuss).” Rob replied with something helpful about how this was all my idea in the first place, and I imagined a chopstick up his nose.
Finally, the food arrived. I crammed my mouth full of ridiculously delicious and equally expensive raw fish, too pissed and worked up for functioning taste buds. I cut chicken and broccoli for Ben and Chloe and shushed them when they whined and cried about “hating sushi chicken” and demanded “MAC AND CHEESE!!!!”. I took them to the bathroom for their nightly dinnertime BM, shoeless, because to have taken the time to put their shoes on would surely have resulted in an accident, given my luck. And, of course, because they were in stocking feet, the bathroom was disgusting and I made a mental note to burn their socks when we got home.
At the end of the night, my blood pressure through the roof, we walked out of the restaurant together. Maddie, who had been wonderful throughout the meal, eating her first sushi and LOVING it, took my hand and said, “Mommy, this was so much fun. We should try it again in a few years when the twins are older.”
My wise little girl.