Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Comestible Chaos

Yesterday the Hatchling and I went out to lunch with ShabbyDoll and her daughter, like we usually do on Tuesdays. The weekly "playdates" (can you call it a playdate if the kids involved mostly ignore one another in favor of eating straws?) are such a boon - it's great to have a friend with a baby so close in age to the Hatchling, and I relish having at least one opportunity a week to interact with an adult during daylight hours. Usually, both the babies are quite well behaved: they sit in their highchairs and munch on Cheerios or fruit while we catch up, bitch about our latest parenting travails, and gossip. We've gone to all kinds of places, posh and homey, family friendly and not so much, and the routine is pretty much the same.

This week, though, we decided to visit a local place owned and operated by friends of ours. (Well, friends of ShabbyDoll; acquaintances of mine.) It's a teensy tiny little cafe; there are about 5 tables and a counter, and that's it. In fact, it's so small that they only have one highchair, so we traded off during the meal. I don't know if it was the trading that got us off kilter, or if we were just jinxed by actually knowing the chef, but let's just say it was not our most glowingly sophisticated outing. Among other stellar moments:
- ShabbyDoll's daughter, F., used her lightning-like reflexes to grab a coffee cup off the table and spill hot coffee (only hot; not scalding) all over herself and her mother, thus requiring her to finish the meal in a state of pants-free abandon, and the chef to come out from the kitchen and mop up the mess;

- I lost hold of a full jar of baby food, which flew under the table and bounced, splattering peach oatmeal banana all over my pants, the floor, the wall, and (I cringe to recall) the black sweater sleeve of the nice gentleman sitting next to me.

- Both girls saw fit to inflict zombie baby death stares on anyone else who happened to walk into the restaurant. That might sound cute, but let me tell you: few people can actually stare them down.

- Both girls were unusually talkative, and at unusually high volumes. "This is a small space," they seemed to say, "we can totally fill it up with our voices. Look! We have excellent breath control, even at decibels normally reserved for death metal concerts."

- After joking with the owner that we often inadvertently leave things behind in restaurants, and being prompted when we left to make sure we didn't forget anything, we STILL nearly left a hat and a wooden block there.

In short, it was a somewhat trying experience, for the restaurant and the other patrons as much as for us. Thankfully, they couldn't have been nicer, and the food was FABULOUS - spanikopita and chicken polenta soup to die for - but I don't think we'll be going there for lunch again in the near future without the dads in tow. Because as ShabbyDoll so rightly puts it, there are some situations where you really have to outnumber your progeny to maintain any semblance of order.