Taking toddlers to restaurants is hard. Forget packing up and getting in the car. Those infant games are over. Our journey now begins the moment that I apply the parking brake.
We decided to go to a familiar place this past Sunday night. A great pasta-centric restaurant in the Old Port called Paciarino. They are fast, friendly and serve fresh pasta – something we definitely don’t have time to make at home! We naturally went during a window of time that is convenient for a dinner out with a child, as well as being implicitly acceptable by society that we be out with our little kids amongst the normal folks – 5:30PM. I pretty much followed all of my own advice. What could possibly go wrong?
Let me back up a second and say that we were at this same restaurant about a week ago, where we enjoyed a nice lunch. Arguably, nobody had a better time that afternoon than my daughter. We were ready for a repeat of a good meal. It wasn’t going to be our night.
We sat down and the fireworks began. My daughter was going to have her own water glass, which is fine. She was going to put it down on the table forcefully every time she took a sip. Not fine. We generally don’t let her bang on things in restaurants, but she was having none of that lesson. Glasses and silverware would be blunt instruments for the remainder of the evening, and moving them away initiated meltdown mode, so we moved on to distractions until some bread and a really nice mozzarella di bufala showed up. She ate some tomatoes off of the plate and then announced that she did not like the texture of the cheese. We know things are moving south when cheese isn’t a hit. This was a kid that helped me crush about half a pound of Gruyere while my wife was at a baby shower. I hope she doesn’t read this.
The true descent began when she decided the bread was not going to be shared. Any effort to correct that started a meltdown, so we stepped it up and went outside. Well, my wife did, while I made sure she had a glass of wine waiting upon her return.
The rest of the meal moved quickly. Toddler mode came back in ready to share, so we ate quickly and pulled the old “I’ll take her outside while you pay the bill” trick. I’m pretty sure I only really wanted a caffe and a bite of tiramisu, but that will have to wait for another night.
There’s no moral to this story. It’s just a reminder that our kids are, well, kids, and we’re going to have to be patient with them as they learn everything from the alphabet to our most important traditions. If anything went well, it may have been that we were able to minimize the disturbance of other guests, particularly because the dinner rush began as we were walking out. But I did notice another couple with a daughter about the same age, and when we left, she was insisting on hanging out under the table. Folks, I don’t know who you are, but if you’re reading this, remember that it’s best for all of us if we try again sometime soon. Oh, and I’m happy to teach you a slate of basic apologies in Italian.Has anyone worn any good meals lately?