The sound of a plate shattering at our feet should have been all the warning that we needed. This decision was a bad one and it was going to be a quick, uncomfortable dinner.
You see, dinners out with the family are an adventure. And that’s putting it mildly. We usually recruit some help. Maybe a grandma, an aunt or uncle, something like that. That way we can switch back to a man-to-man defense versus the normal zone defense that Aisha and I use.
Dinner with two 17-month-olds and a third one teetering on the edge of 3 is best suited for our kitchen. Believe me, it’s better for all of us.
To make things easier, we just don’t venture out for dinner (or any meal) with just the five of us. Not yet, anyway. There will be a time when we hit the town and inflict us all on the unsuspecting public on a regular basis, but for now, well, we think our system works.
So, back to that sound of the plate shattering…
We’ve always had a special place in our hearts for Garozzo’s. It’s one of our go-to places for birthdays and special occasions. It’s where Aisha and I ate the night I proposed to her. It’s where we had out rehearsal dinner. It’s as close to an “our place” as you can get.
And it had been several months since we had tried dinner out with the kids, so we figured we’d tempt fate.
A couple of weeks back, we decided it was time. It was time to shock the system.
We loaded up the car and headed to Garozzo’s for dinner. We went out a bit early to avoid the crowds and found a relatively quiet, docile atmosphere — or so we thought. That may have been what everyone else thought, too.
We hadn’t been there for five minutes when the aforementioned plate escaped the grasp of our oldest and went crashing to the floor. That unmistakable sound may as well have been a beacon in the night, a herald proclaiming our arrival.
Gunner saw that the restaurant was somewhat empty, so he insisted that he be allowed open run of the place. Being trapped by me on one side of him, the wall on the other was not to his liking.
The girls were not thrilled with their accommodations. The idea of a booster seat for one of them was like the peanut butter and jelly in the same jar: a good idea, but way ahead of its time. They both found their way into high chairs in a matter of minutes and that bought us about 45 seconds of peace.
Together, that made for six flailing arms and louder than we would have liked whines and cries.
The to-go cup of cereal we brought for the girls quickly went bye-bye via Gunner’s mouth. Of course. Our salads were the first to arrive. Ever eat a house salad in 37 seconds? I don’t recommend it.
All of the other food arrived at the same time and we thought that might bring some peace. Nope. It was then that all three lost any interest in eating. And who can blame them? I wouldn’t want to eat delicious Italian food, either.
The next five minutes were a blur of fending off Gunner with my left hand, eating a bite with my right hand, then pulling something from the hand of Kyra while scooting something else away from Elise. Ditto for Aisha. We just bounced back and forth on keeping — and taking — things away from from the girls.
Of course, none of this was done quietly. Let’s just say they weren’t using their inside voices.
Then Gunner got ants in his pants. He wanted to share his time with the couple over on the other side of our booth. These were the people I felt for most, but I had no time to worry about them, at least not at that point.
It was time to flag down the waiter.
The fussiness had hit its peak. It was time to make the move. I left Aisha in charge of settling up and grabbing the leftovers — of which there were plenty.
I scooped up a girl in each arm and somehow had ahold of Gunner’s hand to make our way to the car and mercifully bring this adventure to an end. I stopped for just a second to apologize to the couple behind us.
“Oh, don’t worry. You guys are doing great. We have two of our own at home.”
Yep, at home. Man, are they smart? We’re just not ready for this.
Trust me, neither are you.