6.21.2009

Broomstick, anyone?

I'm overreacting, I'll freely admit that.

But as a frazzled MOM (mother of multiples) on Father's Day weekend, I claim that as my right.

You see, one of the downsides of living in a remote corner on a remote island is that Date Night happens only rarely, when someone is visiting us and gives up a night themselves in order to stay home with our two sleeping angels. Most of the time, Mike and I stay in.

Except on those "special" nights when we decide to take the twins out with us.

That requires monumental physical effort and mental preparation. Find the sippy cups; pack extra food and drinks in case they don't like the menu or our order doesn't come fast enough; organize diapers and wipes; get extra changes of clothes for when they spill their Agua; pack restaurant-appropriate toys, books, crayons, new coloring books and faithful Bobbies; add back-up toys so I have something novel to distract them with; find two pairs of Crocs that either Sonoma the Dog is using as a pillow or their owners have hidden and forgotten; change diapers and clothes before we leave for good luck; find car keys; lock the door; load up the car; load up the twins in car-seats; give them juice for the road and the "right" book each (Hayden's is blue); and then get in the car. And then get out of the car to be sure that you really locked the front door after all.

You truly can't remember.

You also can't remember why anyone thought this adventure was a good idea in the first place.

As I've said before, Delaney and Hayden are enthusiastic eaters. They love going "oud da dinner" and walk in wearing their "bah packs" from Meme filled with gear. They are basically well-behaved once we arrive and even more importantly, they are pretty darn cute. Most places welcome us and get set to be entertained.

But last night our welcome was thin. I probably brought the curse on myself by asking the young owner of the pool-side bar whether she was serving wine that came out of a bottle. (After years of visiting and living on Roatan, I've learned not to ask what kind of wine is available. The answer is Red and White.) But the last time we were at this particular oasis, the vino came out of a box, which is only acceptable to me at cook-outs for large numbers of people, not when I'm paying by the glass. Good thing I had asked.

I guess in retrospect we also made the mistake of trying to go out on a Saturday night. Even though it was all of 5:30 when we arrived.

I think, though, that if you are going to be in business, and you want my business, you leave your own bad day behind the counter. And if the customer is having a bad day, you fawn all over me -- and my kids.

As I said, I'm overreacting. But we had spent the better part of two hours getting to this point and to this restaurant. I was ready to have a nice evening and let someone else do the worrying.

Within minutes, Hayden spilled his cup of emergency Cheerios artfully across the entry.

Mindful that this was also a bar, and these were not peanuts we had scattered on the floor, I asked for a broom.

This would have been so easy except for the fact that Hayden loves brooms. And sweeping. And now he had found something exciting to do at this restaurant.

He swept up his Cheerios and then moved outside to the lawn. I relaxed and picked up my glass of from-the-bottle-red, smiling to myself that I was raising a boy who liked to be helpful. And I could sit here peacefully like a grown-up for a few seconds. He started sweeping a patch of dirt and gravel, like he does every day at home. Honestly, Mike and I didn't think anything of it. It was a lovely evening and a safe spot for them to play while we waited for our meals.

But it really ticked off this young restaurant owner, who clearly has never had to amuse/distract/trick/protect/mediate/stall/trick/coerce/encourage/coerce/amuse/distract two two-year-olds at once, ever.

"He's getting my broom dirty!" she shrieked and flew across the grass like the Wicked Witch of the Caribbean.

She grabbed it from poor Hayden's hands. Didn't say anything to him, or to Mike who was supervising; just yanked it away. Flying back, she didn't even acknowledge me, now standing in the doorway in astonishment, feeling the crumbs of a broken evening fall on my feet along with a few errant Cheerios from my lap.

I would have better understood if brooms were hard to come by. (They're not. They're everywhere.) I would have understood if she had said to me, "Would you mind bringing the broom back? We've spilled Cheerios in the kitchen, too." Or even, "I'm sorry, I have an overwhelming fear of dirt on my cleaning supplies." Then let me get the broom away from my son with an explanation he can understand.

Or just do away with the Kids' Menu and we'll get the hint and go elsewhere. Otherwise, be kid-friendly, and be friendly to kids.

It's just good business -- we'll spend more money the longer our kids are happy at your restaurant, and if we're lucky, some day soon we'll get a real Date Night out at your establishment. Then we can order appetizers and dessert, too.

I apologized to our other waitress (the owner-gal never reappeared), because the thing that concerns me more than some woman's attachment to her broom is thinking that my children might not, in fact, be welcome or well-behaved. So I am truly sorry if we pushed the limits of good toddler and parental dining-out etiquette. Next time, we'll leave the Cheerios right where they fall.

3 comments:

  1. I don't have kids, but I don't think you were overreacting. If people allow kids they should adjust to them. And they should have thanked you for sweeping for them!

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  2. Isn't that kind of the point of a broom? To sweep away dirt?

    Embrace those laid back moments of sipping wine while watching your boy having fun doing something kind. No need for apologies... those moments are few in the toddler years.

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  3. Your fabulous blogs prove that the pen is mightier than the sword. That said, get a doll that looks like the witch and stick some pins in it ... :-) Judy

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