Dear Dads, Whats it like during feeding time at your zoo………

dinner

The grand parents have come over for a small holiday. It has been great, the girls have been loving the extra attention and its awesome to see my dad interacting with a mini me, sort of like looking back in time. Anyway, as we are all on holidays we have been visiting a few restaurants around the place, more so than usual. This has been interesting to say the least and it always starts from the moment we sit down, actually before that even…..

BB has learnt the world “sit”…. So we are shown to our seats by a very astute 2 year old waitress who feels it is her role in life to tell us where we should sit. The first 5 mins in the restaurant are filled with “sit, sit siiit”. The usual finger pointing and babble follows her demands as BB tries to tell us in her own language why she came to said seating arrangements and why it is in our best interests to “sit” where we are told. Once this dies down the Picasso moments of artistry start with our budding drawer demanding pens, pencils and pahpa (paper) as she puts it…

BB understands we’re here to eat right? As i look at my wife….. I get the “this is her routine” look back from my wife who is looking for any scrap paper, receipt, tissue etc. that can be drawn on in her handbag. In the mean time 9 month old daughter number 2 has made her way into a high chair and is patiently waiting to be handed the keys to our new car. Not so that she can take it for a strap around the block (though I know she wants too) but instead so she can repeatedly throw said keys on the floor and give the wife and I something to do whilst we wait for the waitress to arrive.

The waitress/waiter rocks up and we give our order, BB has worked out this neatly dressed person brings food and she stops carving away at the paper long enough to demand “bickies”…. Explaining that they don’t serve “bickies” is a waste of time. To a 2 year old every where has “bickies” and BB would like hers in a bowl…. BB’s order is changed to chicken nuggets and chips which seems to be the staple restaurant diet of any child under 10 across Australia!! Jade gets the special meal that comes out of mums hand bag (puree) and right on cue starts to cry, demanding to be fed then and there.

Then the fun starts, you would think amusing a toddler and a 9 month old for 20 mins before the meals come out isn’t such a massive task……. I remember before I became a dad I would look at families in restaurants and think why do they keep picking the keys up? Why don’t they just make the kid stay at the table rather than let it run around like its a monkey on 50 grams of speed….. As I said that was before I became a dear dad…. That 20 mins (which has sometimes blown out to 40) seems like a life time…. I have abs of steel from bending down to pick up dropped keys/crayons/pens/pencils etc., I am an expert at drawing any animal you can think of and doing classic catches as cups are knocked over and yet to be filled bread plates are sent flying.

Young couples look at you and pity you… I know they do, I used too, but i sit with quiet smugness knowing that they too will one day do this dance. We usually get at least 2 tantrums in the 20 mins, always because BB is tired of sitting and wants to personally great every patron in the place, and either we have run out of paper or she has grown tired of the coloured crayons laid out before her.

Finally the waitress/waiter brings the food, they can see that we are desperate for a break, sometimes i think they are going to just throw the food at us and run away like they do the lions at the zoo, BB hooks into her chips and proceeds to knock off daddies as well, mine taste better apparently. Jade still launches the keys around the place but my retrieval rate has dropped considerable as I try and eat. By this stage we have been in the restaurant about 30 – 40mins, our meals are finished in less than 10…. Jo and I have become so adapt at getting our food down fast so we can concentrate on the two little ones we eat now and taste it later. All you parents know what I am talking about…..

Before we know it the waiter guy is back astonished that our meals are gone and the table looks like a bomb hit it with spilled water, soppy wet paper, keys, cups, drawings, phones, plates, and most of the contents of mums handbag strewn all over the place. Only one still eating is BB, on her 3rd chip by this stage, spent most of the time eating the sauce. Looking at the wife I can see she has enjoyed the meal but just wants to “get the hell out of here” before anther tantrum hits and 90% of the contents on the table end up on the floor.

Waiter guy takes the dishes away, BB eyeing him off suspiciously ensuring her plate isn’t touched. Before we know it the waiter is back with desert menu….. Every single restaurant, every single time we are told the kids meal comes with ice cream (or some other sugary sweet). I always look on dumfounded, really?!?! You have seen the destruction of the last 30mins by said toddler and sister and you want to do it all again only this time hyped up on sugar? Wow you guys are really a sadistic bunch. We very rarely take the bait and when we do its when they have a playground that miss BB can burn off the sugar before we confine her to a car seat for the trip home.

So as we walk out of the restaurant, BB trying to say good bye to everyone, including the tables and chairs, I feel $100 lighter, abs of steel, my drawing more refined and half the contents of my wife’s handbag missing…….. I thank god we got out alive…… And completely forget about the whole thing until I find my self walking into a restaurant again……

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