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Dining out

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Dining out

On Monday (labour day), Corey and I decided it was important to take a break from moving furniture and belongings around the house and spend some quality time for lunch. While we were moving furniture and boxes we had unavoidably dislodged some dust. Alexis was also a little overwhelmed by all the changes. We also had electronics on the kitchen table. When considering all these factors, we decided to go out for lunch.

Now getting take-away is not new for us (yes I'm a dodgy housewife), but going to a restaurant, that is a different story. Our version of dining out usually refers to the consumption of some greasy fast food that we earlier purchased through the drive thru. When you have a toddler, you will understand.

We have been to restaurants with Alexis before, but barely find it a pleasant experience. It is exhausting trying to keep her entertained and well behaved. She is a wonderful girl, but sitting still and being quiet are skills that children do not master at such a young age. Yet we tried. She is fine when she is actually eating so we thought as long as we ordered food she would like we would be fine.

We set ourselves up to succeed. We had a bib, spare clothes, nappies, wipes, a dummy, and an assortment of toys. Preparation goes a long way. As you can see from the picture we appealed to Alexis' independent and mature sides by inviting Dorothy the Dinosaur (Dor-Dor) and Dolly to accompany us.  

Alexis, Dorothy, and Dolly were all well behaved initially. They sat up nicely while we ordered. We ordered a garlic and cheese calzone entree because they don't do garlic bread there! We also explained that the fruit salad we ordered off the all day breakfast menu was for Alexis, as she doesn't eat kids meals. I ordered lasagna and Corey ordered a pizza. We deliberately did not order meals that would take long to cook.

The one thing we had forgotten was a sippy cup or bottle for Alexis. We had prepared one, but put it down at the last minute to find the keys, and sadly left without it. It didn't matter overly much as she enjoyed practicing drinking water out of a plastic cup. She did fairly well until she stopped concentrating and started deliberately tipping it all over whatever she could find. I'm sure Dorothy must get quite thirsty, so she probably quite enjoyed her drink. A fair amount of time in, there was still no sign of even entree, and Alexis was incredibly restless. There is a playground right next door to this restaurant, so I suggested Corey take her to play while I waited. He offered for me to take her instead but I wanted him to have the privilege and I said (truthfully) that I needed a rest anyway.

Eventually the garlic thingy did arrive and I called Corey to come back in. Alexis was reluctant to stop playing. They were having so much fun. She did however happily gulp down the garlic thing. I gave her really small pieces so it would take a while. It, at least, was very yummy. It should have been, because it cost more than it normally takes to feed Alexis and I combined.

It was at least another half hour after we finished and still no sign of food. Alexis had spilled water all over herself. She had a wet nappy, which I think was wet from the outside. I wrangled her and the nappy bag out to a park bench and begun the arduous task of changing her nappy and clothes. Alexis ran off chasing birds before I could dress her at about the same time I got the call saying lunch was ready. I caught her, held her by the hand, and forced her toward the restaurant while the nappy bag dangled off my shoulder with her clothes still in my hand. She was atleast wearing a nappy and singlet, but we still attracted a fair amount of "oh look at that poor lady" glances.

Corey managed to put pants on her and con her into the highchair while I snuck off to the toilet. Finally we were all seated ready to eat. I was excited, the food there is normally great.

Our meals were fairly ordinary. It was quite disappointing. Alexis picked away happily at her fruit salad though, which was nice to see. Unfortunately the apple was terrible. We watched her with bewildered amusement as she put a piece in her mouth with excitement, tasted it, pulled a face, then spat it out. She did this several times, each time severely upset that the apple was not better than the piece before. It was incredibly entertaining if nothing else.

Corey paid the bill while I assembled our assortment of baby paraphernalia, then we left. The most embarrassing part of dining out is also the best: leaving someone else to clean up. With the ridiculous price they charged for what they served up I don't really feel sorry for them at all. Well maybe just a little bit!             

We had a fun time, really, but we probably would have enjoyed sausage rolls in the park just as much, if not more.

What's your experience of dining with kids? Is it in the too-hard basket? Or the "I'm not paying $15 dollars for a garlic bread(!)" basket? Or do you find it fun, in a strange way. Any tips for me, a novice?   

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