I have a family that likes to go out to eat. My mom works her ass off all day, and while she can cook and is not bad at it, she often just doesn’t. That puts her and my dad in restaurants quite a bit and we often get invited.
I also have a local aunt, uncle and two cousins. When there’s a birthday, we tend to head to a restaurant. There’s not so many of us that the group is unmanageable, and we all live sort of on opposite ends of things, so it’s easier to just pick a restaurant and meet in the middle after we all get off of work.
This has been our thing for years. Years and years.
My cousins are adults and don’t have kids, so it’s been a long time since there were any little ones in this part of my family. I hate to say it, but Charlotte really complicates things for us.
We don’t have the kind of kid you want to take to a restaurant. We have the kind of kid who is incapable of sitting for longer than it takes to eat a few bites of some kind of chicken. She also does not do restaurant high chairs, so we have to sit in a booth and someone has to try to contain her. When it’s just us and my parents, my dad will inhale his dinner and then take her outside to play.
There’s nothing wrong with Charlotte. She is just 21 months old. She has the attention span of a mosquito, the energy of a Red Bull factory, and the grace of a stampede of buffalo.
Going to a restaurant with her is Not. Fun.
Tonight, my family is getting together for my cousin’s birthday. I really want to go. We hardly ever get to see them all, and I would love for them to be able to spend some time with Charlotte. But that means taking Charlotte to a restaurant close to the cusp of bedtime. And there will be a group of us, so things will take a while. Also, my dad will not be there to entertain her, and much as my mom and my aunt try, they’re not him. It’s just not ideal. At all.
Catch doesn’t think we should go, and my gut says she’s right. Hell, my brain even says she’s right. I think everyone within a 100-mile radius heard her hour-long tantrum last night and that’s par for the course the last few days. Who in their right mind takes a kid who is that grouchy (teething) to a freaking restaurant? No one.
But I’m sad, because it’s family. And this is what we do. I love them, and I want to share this little girl with them, but I also don’t need to subject everyone to my kicking, screaming, food throwing, out of control, teething toddler. Catch and I do not need the stress or the judgement of people who a) don’t have kids or b) haven’t had a two year old in 3 decades.