So, the night before the kids left this last time, we decided to make it a really special evening for them before they went. We took them to a strip club and got them all liquored up and gave them each a cigar and a fistful of dollar bills.
Oh, wait. Wrong night. That was something else. My bad!
Okay, so, we basically said to them “Whatever you want to do tonight, let’s do that. You two get to pick!” That is—as any parent knows—a recipe for total disaster under the best of circumstances, anyway. But we are very slow learners ’round here.
If you don’t understand why our offer to them was a problem, you clearly either A) don’t have kids or B) have just one kid. You cannot possibly ask TWO children to AGREE on a special activity. It’s sort of like asking the surface of the sun to be just a little icy, please, just this once.
With a little bit of guided direction (“Here, let me help: We’re going to GO OUT TO DINNER! Yay! Now you two decide where you want to go!”) there was bickering and tears in no time at all. I just love offering to do something fun with my children. It makes motherhood SO WORTHWHILE AND REWARDING.
The crux of the problem was this: Monkey is more than happy to go get a soggy sandwich at Arby’s and call it a fine dining experience, whereas Chickadee’s taste is more refined. Also, Chickadee is in one of those phases where she feels a deep-seated need to be different. (Don’t worry, it’s just a phase! I mean, it’s been going for about 10 years, so far, but I’m sure she’ll outgrow it VERY SOON!) She asked everyone what THEY wanted and them commenced pouting because none of the options were what SHE wanted.
After some negotiation from a trained peacekeeper (Otto has many talents, y’all), a restaurant was selected.
Keep in mind that last Friday it was approximately 95 degrees at 6:00 in the evening… yet Chickadee traipsed out the door with a SWEATSHIRT on.
“What on EARTH are you wearing THAT for?” I asked her. “It’s a billion degrees outside!”
She scowled at me. “It might be cold INSIDE,” she said, in her special “You are the dumbest person alive” tone of voice. I had to concede her point, but I still kept turning around in the car to make sure she hadn’t suffered heat stroke on the ride over. About halfway there, she took the sweatshirt off.
We arrived and sat down and the kids colored and we all chatted and the food came and there was much rejoicing. Well, there was some rejoicing. Then there was whining, because GUESS WHAT! Chickadee was too cold. She was SO cold. She was FREEZING cold. She was LOOK AT THE HAIRS ON MY ARM STANDING UP cold.
No one was allowed to enjoy their food while she was cold, you understand.
“Where. Is. Your. Sweatshirt?” I asked her, through clenched teeth.
“I left it in the car,” she cried. Of course.
Finally I asked Otto for the keys and went out and got her the damn sweatshirt, and when I came back she pulled it on and hugged me and told me I was the greatest mother ever in the history of mothers, and I have to agree, seeing as how I didn’t drown her in my salad bowl after all of that.
Monkey—always the slowest eater of us all—was still working on his french fries long after we three were done. And then he proceeded to dole out fries to the rest of us while he chomped. None of us really needed any fries, but by tacit agreement we all kept accepting them because we knew this meant he might finish sooner.
Anyway, the rest of the meal was uneventful. Pleasant, even. SO pleasant, in fact, that by the time the waitress came to ask if we needed any dessert, I pointed to some molten chocolate cake and ice cream concoction on the menu and said “I think we need one of those. And four spoons.”
You would’ve thought I’d just declared it International Run Around Naked and Screaming While Drinking Root Beer Day, it was THAT EXCITING. The children positively vibrated in their seats with anticipation. And when our waitress returned and set down this enormous plate of dessert, I realized that they weren’t so much VIBRATING as they were REVVING UP.
People, I have known my kids a very long time. Ten and eight-and-a-half years, in fact. A LONG TIME. And you have to believe me when I say I have NEVER seen ANYTHING like what I witnessed on Friday night.
There are starving wolverines who have partaken of sustenance more daintily than what my children did to that dessert.
Monkey stabbed his spoon in with speed and enthusiasm, breaking off giant chunks of cake which required a three-finger assist from the other hand, once delivered to his mouth, to cram past his teeth. Chickadee ate all of the whipped cream in two heaping, frothy bites, then moved on to shoveling the ice cream into her gaping maw as quickly as the descending brain freeze would allow.
Otto and I each got about two mouthfuls, which would’ve been more troublesome if we hadn’t been so busy laughing ourselves silly over the children’s grim determination to inhale it all.
By the time it was gone, I was convinced that it was the best $4.95 I’d ever spent. You can’t get a show like that just anywhere.
That’s the sort of thing the kids will forget; it’s the sort of thing even I would forget, if I didn’t have a place to write it down. But it’s also the sort of snapshot of their youth I want to hold on to, because it’s so THEM and also because I am quite certain that their prom dates will really enjoy hearing all about it.
I guess it’s true—I really AM the greatest mother in the world.