In a recent attempt to enjoy a nice breakfast out on a Saturday morning, Ada ruined it by acting up and being obnoxious during our meal. We were forced, out of embarrassment and a desire to not ruin the ambiance for the rest of the restaurant's diners, to get to go bags and bolt out of there. On the way home we broke down theories as to why Ada can't sit and behave when we are out to eat. We don't go very often for that very reason and always try to find family friendly establishments that won't scowl at us during the entire meal.
Rick's theory is that she doesn't have to sit down at the table at home to eat, so we haven't really set her up for success. Now we are trying to have meals at the dining room table as much as possible, which turns out to be really difficult. It's better for me to eat meals with her at her 6 pm dinner time instead of 8 or 9 with Rick, but it isn't as easy to get both meals hot and ready to go at the same or similar time. I'm feeling more and more like a short order cook these days. And to make matters worse, I don't know how to sit at the table with a two year old and enjoy a quiet dinner. She isn't chatting me up while we eat and I'm such a multi-tasker that it pains me to sit still, in silence, and watch her eat. I'm now getting really creative with our dinner conversations about the color of her foods and what she's eating and advising her on better ways to hold her spoon for less spillage down her chest. I'll admit, if Wheel of Fortune happens to be on during dinner, I'm not feeling too guilty for shifting her to the side of the table that has a view of the TV and using the contestants' letter choices as a learning too. Sometimes that's all my brain can handle after a long day at work. And she loves it when the puzzle gets solved and the contestants all clap. If only Pat Sajak would sing the alphabet at the end of the show...
Another theory is, in a restaurant full of strangers, Ada's in the spotlight. Being the social butterfly that she is, a meal out is her time to preform and she won't be confined to her seat. She's better when it isn't just Rick and I, as there are other people at the table for her to entertain. But when it is just the two of us, she can't wait to get out of the booth and work the room. In off times with tolerant fellow diners, that isn't as much of an issue. During the Saturday morning rush with hot coffee and distracted waitresses moving at the speed of light, it doesn't work so well. A fellow mom suggested we try distracting her with a bag of goodies and her favorite toys since the standard restaurant crayons and placemat aren't enough. We also try to order her food first and have it come out early so she has something to do while we wait.
Moral of the story: Mealtimes aren't easy and enjoying them at restaurants is even harder. Be prepared and know that you might just have to take it "to go".