Pull up a seat

Dinner out with my kids looks a lot like this: 
Lack of personal space pretty much sums it up.  Your eyes silently calling for someone to save you is also worth mentioning though.
I remember when they were small and dinner would be like roping cats just attempting to keep them in their seat and not screaming or crying. If you had a one to one ratio of parents to cats, you stood a good chance of succeeding. But there would be little to no adult conversation. You’d mostly just be happy someone else did the cooking and you wouldn’t have to wash any dishes at the end.  
I predict someone is about to get licked.
If the parents were outnumbered by the kids back when they were really small, oh, hell. Any other grown adult at that table is going to have to come off the bench and sub in. That’s the price of doing business when you dine with someone with small kids. Nothing is more amusing than the face of someone with no children trying to reason with your unreasonable child.

We quickly learned the tricks of the trade. How to slowly dispense Cheerios to keep a toddler busy. How handing over your car keys is a last resort toy. How to color with a kid while chatting with another grown adult. And never underestimate the benefit of going to restaurants that serve bread before the meal. My kids are good for a whole loaf of brown bread at Outback.

Even better, we’ve recently discovered that carefully slicing the bread and buttering it for everyone keeps the 8 year old occupied. If you’re willing to put up with slightly mauled bread that’s heavy on the butter, you just bought yourselves 7 minutes of quiet, sir. Genius.

Places that let kids refill their own drink are also useful. Pretty sure the other grown adults don’t enjoy watching my son making a suicide concoction out of every flavor. But I don’t care, other grown adults. That kid is endlessly entertained. Both by the making as well as the showing and discussing when he returns to the table. But places with refills are typically places with drive thru windows. That’s barely a step above my own cooking. Sometimes a girl wants to eat somewhere with a waiter that fills your glass for you. Don’t make you fancy schmancy. Could just mean you had a long week.
Bad lighting but proof that I was there.  Also proof that the cheep twisty crap toy things they give you can make entertaining fake glasses for all ages.
Sometimes if we’re in the market to not have to hear our kids’ voices, we’ll hand over our cell phones and enjoy the peace and quiet until they discover the WiFi isn’t working. Periodically, my husband and I can actually talk about our day.

We’ve also gone through periods where our daughter would take a book to the restaurant. Many was the Rainbow Magic fairy book that got read while tuning the rest of us out. Not going to lie. Wasn’t entirely unpleasant being tuned out.

But truthfully, hearing their voices ain’t always so bad at the end of the day. Especially as they’ve gotten older and can have an actual conversation. Not necessarily a stimulating conversation, mind you. But a conversation. So mostly we just yammer and shovel food in our face when we go out.
There are painfully bad jokes. Stories with no point. I try to convince the kids I’m secretly Hannah Montana and put on concerts in the backyard after they go to bed. My husband tries to trick my daughter into thinking we’re taking her to get the cell phone she's been asking for after dinner. There’s bickering. There’s teasing. And there’s question after question after question after question after question.

And next thing you know everyone wants to cram on the same side of the booth. The prized spot being right between my husband and I. That’s assuming he and I were allowed to sit on the same side to begin with. But if our side seems cramped, I’ll be darned if people don’t just start trying to shove themselves into the end of the seat and hanging off your neck.
And then people are touching your face or licking your nose. Slightly gross but sweet and funny. If your salad has croutons, you can count on my son’s grubby hand reaching in and taking them. If you are having a baked potato, you may as well cut off part to give to her.

 Your water glass may end up on the other side of the table. Your wine glass becomes a prop for a horrible French accent impression. The paper your straw comes wrapped in shot across the table at someone that’s not looking.
I’ll miss it when they’re big enough to realize it’s just dinner.

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