Pardon me While I try to Enjoy my Meal

It’s small, crowded, and often noisy late at nights, but one tiny restaurant in my home town is unlike any other I’ve ever been to.  Filled to bursting with Hollywood memorabilia from days long gone by, it has borne witness to celebrations of personal milestones, both great and small, and overheard conversations that I can’t even remember.  Its bustling aisles were the scene a first date that turned into a marriage (I always comment when we pass the table where we ate), and my husband and I visited it at least once a week for years after our wedding.  It’s just that kind of place.

By the time our first child was born we were visiting less frequently, but it was still a great place to be.  We avoided the crowds on Halloween and St. Pats, and we knew that weekends meant longer waits for tables and we understood that the months when college kids filled the booths were also not ideal.  But the comforting familiarity and moderate noise level made us feel it was a great place to take a toddler whose table manners had not yet evolved to the point of eating in many other sit-down restaurants.

It holds a piece of my heart.

Or it did…

Several years ago progress came and change occurred.  Much of what made it a cool place to be was taken off the walls.  The pictures and artifacts were replaced with flat screen televisions, displaying the news and the action of any game occurring in real time.  It got louder.  But still we went.

There’s a table in the corner, the big, round one that used to hold all of my high school and college friends.  It’s now the site of dinners with one of my best friends and her family.  All of our kids, hers and mine, can fit around this table where we gather when our calendars allows us to meet on a Tuesday night (because that is when kids eat free).  Here we make new memories.  Even without the pictures and the autographs, we make due with the television that hangs over us, deal with the other patrons staring over our heads at the game instead of at the dates they came to eat with, and enjoy our food and conversation.  Usually…

Then came the night of great miscalculation.

Without thinking about the sports schedule that I skip over in the guide on my personal television, my family packed into our round table in the corner, under the offending flat screen, to celebrate the last night that our out-of-state friend would be staying with us.  It was a Tuedsay, and we had always made the pilgrimage to this particular sandwich shop when she was in town.  As we gathered my three children, well behaved and hungry, into their seats, I noticed that things seemed a little more unsettled that usual.  Think of it as a second mommy sense.  Something was just a little off.

We placed our orders, received our drinks, and enjoyed our conversation over the louder than normal din of other voices as we watched the kids color the jungle scene on their paper menus.  And then it happened.  Directly to my left, at the table beside us and directly behind one of my twins, a college kid with a sloshing beer stood to full height and let out an ear piercing bellow… over the head of one of my children.  She looked terrified, his date looked annoyed, and I’m sure I looked pissed.

Angrily looking for the source of his frustration, I saw in brilliant color what was the end to my enjoyable evening… The World Cup.

Admittedly, I did bring my children to eat in a restaurant, alas, that is filled with televisions on a night that I should have avoided.  However, as our meal arrived he grew louder and louder.  He moaned each time the opposing team, who even knows which one, scored a goal, and screamed in jubilation when his team made a good shot.  My six year-old attempted to join in with his behavior, for which she was quietly reprimanded.  After all, we were in a restaurant and not a sports bar (where I never would have taken my kids), or a barn for that matter.  She was upset, of course, because she wanted to act like the grown man-child was acting.  The twins grew more and more uncertain of their surroundings, this making it hard for them to eat, and the overgrown ape’s poor date slid a little farther into her seat each time his vociferous cries erupted.

I began to shoot daggers from my eyes as my husband looked around for our waiter to voice a complaint.  We found him.  He was standing beside the now purple man, who at this point was standing in the aisle beside his table, discussing the game.  (I assume it takes too much energy to continue jumping up and down every time a player does something interesting.)  This went on for fifteen minutes.

Finally the couple left.  Apparently the date had announced that she was leaving, with or without him, so he chose to go.  By that point, we were waiting for our check, which the waiter had to go find because he had forgotten we were one of his tables.

As we left, bellies full of poorly digesting food, I was left to ponder the following:  Why were my small children better behaved than an adult, and how are we, as parents, expected to teach our kids how to be respectful and kind when the people they see around them often can’t do it?  Why does becoming more modern often kill all that is good about a tradition?  And why should I have to ask to be allowed to enjoy a meal that I am paying for?  Pardon me, but I’d like to enjoy my indulgence and one of my few nights out of the house with my, for once, well behaved children, my husband, and a life-long friend.

We haven’t been back since…

How to Not Potty Train Twins

Dear World:

Just in case you mistakenly believe that I have this whole mom thing figured out, let me be completely honest.  There is one thing, one huge, smelly, icky thing, that I totally suck at: Potty Training.

Maddie took forever.  There was much attempt at patience as well as smiles, silly songs, a cute potty chair, and an extra attachment for the adult toilet.  Then came the frustration, the accidents, the crying (mainly on my part), and the utter despair.  Finally, my mother-in-law laid down the law.  Maddie was told, in no uncertain terms, that if she peed in Grammy’s floor, she was going to get a spanking.  That’s all it took!  After a year and a half of effort on my part, my mother-in-law’s voice was the answer.  There were almost no accidents from that point on!  It was like a blessing from the heavens.

With the twins, I knew it would be more difficult.  The plan was to wait until they were older than Maddie was when we started trying to house break her.  The problem with all best laid plans, however, it that my twins don’t like plans.  They don’t follow the directives given them, and they make their own rules.  At about twenty months, they began ripping off their diapers like it was the greatest game ever invented.  Imagine, or it may be more pleasant if you don’t imagine, the effects of ripping off a diaper filled with liquid and often solid toddler byproducts, often at high velocities.  Most dramatic were the times when the removal occurred before naps, and again, if you are brave of heart, imagine what that looked like by the time they woke up.

So, with a heavy heart and knowledge of what was in store, I began the journey toward civilized bathroom usage with our identical mass producers of foulness.

What I have learned follows:

  1. Never get too excited too quickly.

When I began this journey, I was so excited to see the twins happily sit on the potty, or even the full-sized toilet.  Maddie never cooperated and we had to coax her to remain in a full-upright and seated position.  I was ecstatic!  Surely this would not take as long with them as it had with her.

  1. Never assume that your positive attitude will affect the attitudes of wee small ones.

I was all smiles.  We were going to do this.  It would not only save me the time wasted in cleaning their goo-encrusted bums, but think of the money that would be saved not having to buy diapers for two!  If I kept smiling they would happily “Let it Go” and the process would be over.  (In fact, we even sang that song as they sat, time after time, on the potty seats and produced NOTHING.

  1. Never believe that buying cute products will work wonders.

When I really got down to the business of training them, necessitated again by a frenzied drive toward total nakedness on their parts (I swear no one else in the house is driven by nudist tendencies), I sent my husband to the store to buy a second potty chair that closely resembled the one left over from our trials with Maddie.  Armed with not one but two Froggy Potties, the twins and I excitedly renewed our vigor.  Now they fight over who gets which seat… fail.

  1. Never waste money on specialized butt covering devices.

While I haven’t wasted money on pull-up style training diapers this time around, we did have some left over from several years ago, so out of storage they came.  The babies do quite well putting them on themselves, but guess what else they can do…  Those suckers come off with a fluidity and a velocity far surpassing that of the previously mentioned flying diapers.  I swear!  You could do physics experiments based on the trajectory of these little pink and white missiles.

  1. Never feel bad for ingenuity.

I must admit, in my frustration, that there have been days (many of them) that I have needed a break.  Twice, so far, I have resorted to taping diapers on them.  Interestingly, the sound of the tape being unrolled sends them into panicked sceams, and I am not sure why.  In all honesty, as I type and they run around their room bare butted and threatening to flood the world, I am eyeing the packing take with great intensity.  I am attempting to resist the urge, but resistance is often futile.

In total honesty, the twins are almost no closer to being potty trained than they were when I began this journey.  I am more frustrated than I want to be, but we will continue to persevere.  If nothing else, I can always buy stock in cleaning products and hope for the marked to increase…

Yours truly,

One very tired Mommy

To My Dear Hubby

Hummy,

On this, the eve of Father’s Day, I send you my love.  Someday there may be a little, tiny male to offset the excessive amount of female vibes in our house, but until then, thank you for being an amazing daddy to our collection of princesses.  Thank you for being patient (a lot of the time), teaching them to look for the magic (most of the time), and loving us (all of the time). We couldn’t be us without you!

Love,

Me

 

What’s in a Name?

To my beautiful daughters,

By now I’m sure you have realized that your parents bicker. We love each other very much, but all decisions are accompanied with a healthy amount of friendly discord. All decisions save one: your names. You mean more to us than any other thing we could have wished for. You are our pride, our joy, our sleepless nights (Mommy’s especially), and you are as strong and powerful as the women you were named after.

Madison, I dreamed of you years before you were born. I knew what it was to hold you in my arms, and in my slumber I called you by name. Your middle name is shared with your Grammy. She is a unique combination of love, strength, and courage. She would fight a grizzly bear to protect any one of you, and she would win. It is not by coincidence that you, our cowgirl princess, share her name. She loves all three of you so very much.

grammy

Makayla and Abigail, you were named after three amazing women. Though they left us before you arrived, you are their legacy.

Your Aunt Joyce taught me strength and dignity. She was long-suffering and spunky. Joyce shared a middle name with your Granny Bowman, who helped raise me. She was the type that thought babies were meant to be held at all times. She was my refuge. Makayla, it was with purpose that we gave you their middle name.

joyce      granny

Abby, when we learned we were having twin girls, we chose to honor the third of the matriarchs on Daddy’s side of the family. Your Aunt Marilyn was warm and nurturing. Living beside her when our marriage began, she taught me a great deal about how to be a wife and mother.

marilyn

My wish for you is that you all know that you are loved. Your names were crafted uniquely for you. They embody the strength and love possessed by women that have shaped your world. They love you beyond belief and to the moon and back.

Love,
Mommy
 

 

 

Parents NEVER Lie… Much

Warm weather has set in in Virginia, and summer vacation is almost upon us. Keeping with annual tradition, tonight we blew up the inflatable kiddie pool in the back yard and prepared to fill it will chilly (FREEZING) tap water. For the second year in a row, we pulled swim diapers on the twins and tugged suits onto the squirming bodies of our three children.

Realizing I had left my camera inside again, I settled in to watch them giggle and squirm as they laughed and jumped both away and toward the water hose. Laughingly, I learned that the twins liked the water but didn’t want their suits to get wet. Why would anyone want to get water on a perfectly dry bathing suit?

Stranger still was the educational conversation I had with Maddie. It went something like this:

ME: When we go to the big pool, should you go swimming by yourself?

MADDIE: Yes!

ME: No… (Insert explanation of why she needed an adult and who counted as an adult.)

MADDIE: (jump jump jump splash jump jump) Squeal

ME: Remember, we can’t run when we’re at the big pool either. You might fall and break your head.

MADDIE: Like a zombie!

ME: (pause… consider my answer… decide to take the moral high ground and tell her the truth) Yes! Exactly like a zombie!

That’s just how we roll.