Tuesday, November 26, 2013

How to Get Banned From a Restaurant For Life in Five Easy Steps

Waiters quake in their boots when they see us coming.

Sunday afternoon, J and I foolishly decided to take the boys out for lunch after LO was done with Sunday School.

We fell victim to one of the classic blunders: believing that dining out while parenting is a possibility.

In exchange for our hubris, I fear that we may have been banned for life from the best (and only) Japanese noodle restaurant in Lafayette. (Why oh why couldn't we have been dining at Arby's?)

Here were our transgressions, in both ascending and chronological order:

1. We brought LO into a preternaturally quiet restaurant. Seriously, the place could have doubled as a library, spa, or center for meditation. Everyone burbled quietly at their tables. No one spoke above a hushed whisper. It was, in a word, QUIET!

Into this environment, we brought a 3-year-old. 

These creatures are much like Austin Powers, in that they have a great deal of trouble controlling the volume of their voices. Add to this the fact that LO is currently in love with his name and will point out any time he sees the first letter of his name in a highly excited and extremely loud voice. This is adorable, unless you are in the world's quietest restaurant, which also seems to have the acoustics of an echo chamber.

We fielded quite a few askance glances.

2. We allowed LO to accept the enormous lidless cup of ice water that our waiter brought as soon as we sat down.

This was ignoring the fundamental rule of toddler restaurant physics: any liquid within a 75 foot radius of a toddler WILL be spilled all over the table. This spill will sometimes create such a mess that the tables of patrons at entirely different restaurants will be affected.

As soon as the waitstaff arrived with J's complex build-your-own-ramen-soup-on-a-portable-gas-stove-entree, LO managed to knock over his water glass, which ran under BB's car seat (of course it was sitting on the table), the portable gas stove thingy, my udon entree (which I had not had to cook myself) and all over the floor.

3. BB was somewhat caught in the line of water. He found himself sprinkled with LO's drink, which of course was enough to wake up the sleeping young man. Considering the fact that very few people will take being woken up in such a manner in stride, he awoke angry.

He was also hungry.

Those two things together ensured that the other customers and the waitstaff started wishing for the relative peace of LO loudly proclaiming "Look, Mom, L for LO!"

4. In order to mitigate the howls of an angry 2-month-old, I decided to nurse BB. I even had my nursing cover. Unfortunately, it was under a pile of our coats on the bench, which was all underneath LO. 

Thinking that the noise at this point was worse than any visual offensiveness I could add, I decided to nurse BB just using his blanket to cover up.

Despite being a veteran breast-feeder, I'm still not uber-great at balancing a baby, a boob, a meal, and a blanket in such a way that no one gets a cheap thrill.

5. After BB's meal, I took him to the restroom to change his wet diaper. I noticed there was no liner in the trash can but decided that throwing a well re-wrapped wet diaper in there couldn't hurt anything.

(The liner-less trashcan figures prominently in our biggest sin against this restaurant, by the way).

Upon returning to the table, LO told me he wanted a pullup change. Since he often wants to do everything that BB does, I was completely and utterly unprepared for the horror that awaited. I didn't even take a bag of wipes with me into the restroom.

LO had done something awful in his pants. (I will leave the details to the reader's imagination in the hopes that LO will not kill me for this when he's 14).

I did not discover said something awful until the young man was pantsless and it was impossible for me to return to the table for backup.

I cleaned him up as well as I could, and then regarded the linerless trashcan with intense consternation. Unless the can (which was the kind with a paper towel dispenser above it) managed to detach from the wall, one of the poor thankless waitstaff was going to have to deal with more than anyone bargained for when we set foot in the restaurant.

In an attempt to mitigate the horror, I wrapped the used pullup in as many paper towels as I could manage and hustled the child and myself out of the now unpleasant-smelling and still very small restroom.

J was at the register, paying. I whispered to him, "We need to leave very very quickly and never come back here again."

J left an exorbitant tip and we jumped in the car and peeled away. It wasn't until we were safely back at home that I was certain no mob of angry waitstaff had followed, intent on exacting revenge.

Despite the lack of immediate retaliation, I have no doubt that our photos are now posted with the injunction to never allow us to darken their doorstep again.

Damn fine noodles, though.

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