The $40 Beer and Other Tall Tales

After the exciting New Year’s Eve that I had, the thing I was most look forward in 2012 was a first New Year’s brunch at  a relatively nice place. (Cloth napkins, please; that’s all I’m asking.) So, I made plans to meet up with my husband’s cousin, her husband, and their son who is also toddler aged. I figured if I couldn’t enjoy a night on the town, I could at least enjoy a couple of festive mimosa and an overpriced plate of eggs before strollering home for nap time.

New Year’s Day started out just great. Baby and I slept in, then we went to the gym, where he had a great time in the baby-sized ball pit and I had a less-than-great time sweating it out on the treadmill. We had a wonderful walk downtown to the restaurant, and luckily there was no ridiculous wait.

And that’s pretty much where the fun stopped.

I’ve been totally embarrassed by my child before. The incident that first jumps to mind is sitting in a financial planner’s office this fall. As we negotiated what to do with the 401K I needed to do something with following my layoff, my kid turned from a little boy into a goddamn monkey. He was literally climbing all over the guy’s leather chair, pulling documents off his desk, playing with a model car that was clearly not a toy, highlighting the wooden table in his office–you name it, he meddled in it. The crowning moment was when my child discovered the mini golf sculpture, replete with a real sand trap. Before I could sign my life’s savings over, my child had a fist full of sand and had chucked it across the guy’s office. And if I thought it couldn’t get any worse, my kid took a dump in his diaper that stunk up the place to the point where the financial planner had to open the office door and let some fresh air in.

If I thought that experience was humiliating, I had another thing coming at this brunch. We sat down, ordered a drink, and then placed our orders. I went for some mussels steamed in some beer-infused cream sauces with spicy sausage and a cold, crispy beer; I ordered baby some sliders to share with his cousin and fries. After about 15 minutes of playing with cars, whining started. And then I got angry face. And then the crying started.

In the span of the next 20 minutes, I pulled out a light saber (or thats what I call this toy that has a globe on a stick and when you press the button a bunch of lights spin around), fruit snacks, a toy phone, a toy remote, crayons, and raisins. But the crying wouldn’t stop. At this point, the best thing about the restaurant was that it was loud as hell and I don’t think the table next to us could hear my child fussing majorly over the din of other diners conversing and plates being cleared.

So, baby and I went hand in hand to the bathroom to check on the diaper situation. Turns out the diaper was not an issue. But the crying had turned into hysterics and I soon found myself three more times in the bathroom over the next 15 to 20 minutes. (Seriously how slow could this service be!) I tried everything–diaper change, timeout, pleading, and finally begging. I was starting to completely look my grip on the whole situation. I know it’s bad when family follows you into the bathroom to find out if you’re okay. (Ummm, no, but I can’t tell anyone just how close I am to completely losing it.)

After an eternity and a day, the food arrives. My child is absolutely sobbing. In the high chair. In my lap. Standing next to the table. He’s just a blubbering and snotty mess. I pull the plug.

I ask for the check and a couple of doggie bags. I shovel a couple of mussels into my gullet and whole-heartedly try to package up the rest of them with the intent to actually enjoy them when I get home. I get them all in the box and realize (1) the box is cardboard, so I’m going to end up with a soupy mess in my stroller despite the box inside the box packaging and (2) even if I could get a plastic bag to wrap up the box, the box still won’t close. So, I think I pretty much threw my hands in the air and got the funk out of there. My bill (with tip) was close to $40. The only thing I actually ingested was an Amstel Light.

Thank god I had a 45 minute walk home in 35-degree temperatures–after a $40 beer, no way in hell I was paying for a cab–because it took me that long to cool down. Honestly, I was furious. I wasn’t necessarily mad at my kid (although maybe I was a little bit), but I totally felt cheated out of not only $40 but a nice day with family. I mean, how often do I really get out? And it was brunch, for god’s sake!

I’m sure it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it was somehow, on that day, at that time, nearly devastating for me. Which is why I felt like not only the world’s worst mother but a total ass the next morning. I retrieve my child from his bed in the next morning to find his entire face crusted in a snot mask. He was clearly sick. And he had clearly been telling me the day before that he didn’t feel well. And I clearly all but cursed him out for acting up.

I can say with certainty that the idea of having to remove not just a but my hysterical child from public was a huge parental fear of mine. And it happened, despite my efforts to the contrary. (I just thank god it was with family and not my husband’s boss.) But I lived to see another day, if not another mussel.

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