When we were at the beach, this sign was on the door of the restaurant we ate at.
I stared at Natalie, who sometimes behaves as though her volume toggle is stuck on high. What if we were kicked out? Would a waiter come over and whisper, “I apologize, but your child is noisy. You’ll have to leave.” They’d pack my food up at least, right?
“Remember,” I whispered to Natalie as we walked inside. “You have to be quiet.” I pressed a finger to my lips.
Now, I knew the restaurant was of the higher end. We eat there every summer. But usually it’s adults only with the kids being left at the condo. My cousins and I would go out one night, my parents, my aunt and uncle and grandma would go out another. This year not as many people could come to the beach so we all decided to go.
Meaning no child care.
I had been prepping Natalie for awhile.
“No shouting,” I had said. “Or else you’ll be arrested.”
Shame on me and all of that. She should keep it down simply because I’m the parent and I asked her to. But Natalie doesn’t work that way.
“No yelling,” I warned another time. “Or else I have to give away all your Rapunzel toys.”
The sign on the restaurant door surprised me. That was new. It had not been there last year. This meant the restaurant meant business.
Please don’t let Natalie embarrass me, I kept thinking. Not in front of my family. Not in front of my 92-year-old grandma.
We settled down at a table. I stupidly asked the hostess for a kids menu.
“There is none,” she explained kindly.
Right. Of course.
I was informed that they did half portions on the spaghetti and other pasta dishes for the children.
Thunk, thunk, thunk.
That was Natalie tapping her spoon against her bread plate.
“No,” I said, sliding the plate away from her. “No, that’s noisy.” My eyes flicked around. Would a waiter emerge and remove us?
“Why did they fold the napkins like that? I’ve never seen a napkin in a shape before,” Tommy said, wrinkling his nose at the napkin in front of him. It was twisted in a fancy looking mountain.
“Some restaurants just do that,” I said. I sent a telepathic message to Tommy to please not fart. This was not the place to fart. Would we be removed for a fart?
Not only did I have to make sure my kids behaved, but I also had to remember not to put my elbows on the table and to sit like a lady. Or try to. I had to remember to chew with my mouth closed. I needed to stop reaching for the delicious bread that was set in the middle of the table because when I ate it, I resembled a zombie from The Walking Dead feasting on a dead carcass. I have manners. I just tend to forget them when I'm around food.
We ordered our food and I was pleased to see the kids were behaving. Natalie was amusing herself with the bread and Tommy was observing the world around him. Everything was going well! I was even able to enjoy some adult conversation. I was in the middle of listening to someone speak when I heard a clatter. It took me a few seconds to realize my daughter made the clatter because she had tipped over in her chair.
I don't even know HOW it happened. I mean, the last time I observed her, she was rolling her bread into tiny balls. I don't know what occurred between that and falling off her chair.
I thought, oh no, are we going to be kicked out because my kid forgot how to sit? I helped her up--she did not cry, thank goodness, but she did look mortally offended.
"I don't know what happened. The chair is just mean," Natalie said with a frown.
That was the last catastrophe, I'm proud to say. My kids were well behaved. They did not need hand held entertainment to keep silent like the other kids at a table across the way. This is mainly because I do not like to share my phone. I do not have children's apps on there because it's MY PHONE. I don't want their sticky hands all over it. I would have handed it over as the last straw but thankfully I did not need to.
I remembered to chew with my mouth closed. I remembered to order dessert calmly and not shout out, "THE CHOCOLATE CAKE! Oh my heavens please give me the CHOCOLATE CAKE! My husband is deployed and I need the chocolate."
We did not get kicked out of the semi-fancy restaurant.