But, because we are optimists and also because we don’t have good sense, we soldier on. We take them to parks and museums and kickball games. We’ve dragged them to the beach, to the zoo, to a giant waterfall, to concerts at Sauvie Island, and on the Odell Excursion Train at Mount Hood.
And on some occasions, when it seems that we have a communal death wish, we take them to restaurants. Escorting one or two young children to a restaurant is doable as long as there is at least a one to one ratio. Billy and I have taken Cami out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She does fine until the orange juice sets in, but, between the two of us, we are able to run interference when she starts ricocheting.
Melissa and I have taken Miles and Georgia out to eat from time to time, carefully choosing the place for it's willingness to put up with chaos and ketchup. A play area filled with toys that don't look like they carry the H1N1 virus is helpful but not absolutely necessary. A table away from others almost always happens if the hostess is savvy at all. The promise of a big tip early on also seems to help.
But all three together, hoo boy! It's like they are more than the sum of their parts. They can tag team us, what with the "having to go to the bathroom" from the ones who are potty trained or working on it, to the one who isn't and does number two in her diaper. Then there's the ordering. What they ordered, they no longer want. Instead, they want what we have, leaving us to eat the mac and cheese and the peanut-butter quesadilla. Then there's the salt and pepper just begging to be turned up-side-down and the ketchup bottle that could use a good squirting. Oh yeah, I forgot the standing backwards in the booth and putting crackers in the hair of the lady behind us.
Last summer, as we were traveling to catch the Odell Excursion Train, we stopped for lunch at what looked like a family-friendly restaurant. It was. It was so friendly, in fact, they gave us our own room, complete with toys and swinging bar doors. Billy remembers eating his entire meal standing at those swinging doors, making sure no one escaped. He wasn't so worried about losing a kid. He wanted to make sure neither Melissa nor I went to the bathroom, never to return.
And just this past Saturday, as we were heading to the beach and after we'd scared the sea lions back into the Pacific at the Gearhart Pier (renamed the pee-er after Miles christened it), we once again tried to have lunch, this time at the St. George Brewery. The hostess took one look at us and seated us at Table Four. Although it wasn't in a separate room, it was at least a booth with backs high enough to protect the people on either side.
Since Georgia had arrived with a prepackaged load in her britches, Melissa took her to the bathroom for a change, leaving Billy and me to deal not only with Cami and Miles, but also with what seemed to be a surly waiter, someone not all that thrilled to be dealing with a group who would most likely soon be throwing food and spitting milk. However, when Melissa and I each ordered a glass of wine, he cheered up some, thinking that we just might get wasted enough to mistakenly leave him a big tip.
A while later, after schmoozing with the waiter, asking where he was from, etc. and after I had, indeed, tipped him well in spite of being way too sober, he actually told us that he'd enjoyed serving us and then he relayed a little secret.
And the secret was that, after the hostess had seated us, she'd announced a new party in his section with this bad news:
"Birth Control at Table Four."
Oh well, there's a good chance that the waitstaff at the St. George Brewery will have their own kids one day, and they too will know how to get a raisin out of a child's nose without calling an ambulance.
And they'll think it's all worth it.