Mr. Incredible and I took all four boys to the Olive Garden for dinner this weekend.
I used to think our boys were really well behaved in restaurants. A little noisy and excitable, but with a timely walk right after ordering our food, they could usually hang on and be only just starting to go crazy by the time we adults finished eating. It’s been awhile, though, and we found out just how out of practice they are.
Friday’s excursion included about 25 extended family members. Six of those were boy cousins, all of whom my boys completely adore and all of whom they can’t communicate with in anything softer than a primal yell. “BEN!!! ERIC!!! Hey, let’s play tag in this 2-foot by 2-foot space between our table, the waiter, and those people eating dinner over there!!!” (Did you lose count? That’s 10 boys, almost half the party!)
I only agreed to this (crazy) scheme because I thought we’d be in a “private room” for groups. Well, it was a large area with our huge tables arranged in the center, and hapless victims, I mean, other diners in booths around the perimeter. Oy, they got an earful.
After two or three rounds of musical chairs, we got everyone seated. Too bad they didn’t stay that way. Buzz kept climbing all over people, had a “time-out” walk with grandpa, and eventually ended up worming around our feet under the table. Dash whined until his food arrived and then didn’t like it, and whined some more while we tried to get him to eat. Mowgli was well-behaved (though very loud), until he decided he felt sick to his stomach and ran off to the bathroom. (Nothing happened–yay!) Gus-Gus was okay for awhile, but burst out screaming as soon as my sister-in-law (the birthday girl) had her turn to hold him.
Half the time I felt embarrassed, the other half, defensive. I kept glancing at the older couple who came for a quiet dinner and instead got us; I was counting the dirty looks they sent our way, but I got lost after 20. I was secretly hoping they’d say something to us so I could defend my brood, but they never did. If I could have come up with the right line, I would have gone up to them and (sweetly) asked them if they enjoyed watching our darling children, but I don’t do impromptu one-liners very well.
At the end of the night, as we were leaving, I said to the waitress, “Thanks for putting up with us!” She laughed and said, “Are you kidding? Your kids were great!” I thought about it, and realized she was right. They didn’t spill anything, they weren’t rude, they patiently endured two hours in a restaurant and only really started going crazy at the very end. Sure, they were loud and wiggly, but they’re little boys! The only way they will learn to behave well in public is if I brave the chaos and take them out once in awhile. As we were getting in the car, I thanked my three older boys for being good…mostly. They grinned and asked when we could go to a restaurant again.
I think it might be pretty soon!