Last week Brian mentioned that he had a dinner to attend for work - something about selling over his quota for the month, and his boss was taking him out to celebrate. I was invited to join them, so I lined up a babysitter. I have to admit, I got a little excited at the thought of a night out with adults. A nice glass of wine, and food that would not be eaten standing over the kitchen counter while Helen threw her cooked carrots on the floor - well, it was tantalizing, to say the least.
So yesterday was the big day, and mentally I spent most of the morning planning the evening - race to the daycare center, pick up the baby, make her dinner, throw on some earrings and liptstick, take the earrings off the baby and wipe off the lipstick. It'd make her look like one of those pageant contestants, really.
But after lunch, I got a phone call from the babysitter. She had gone to the doctor with a bad cold and learned she had an ear infection. She was still feverish, and probably contagious, and obviously not feeling well. So sorry - she'd have to cancel.
Brian & I spent the next 2 hours calling literally everyone we knew. Backup #1 was in another state. Backup #2 had a work dinner to attend. Backup #3 had plans with spouse at a local pub. Backup #4 had her own kids to pick up at baseball practice. And so on. You get the idea. With such short notice, no one could come over to watch Helen.
So I thought, there went my precious evening with adults, there goes the wine, bring on the carrots. But Brian said he'd rather have me there, so we took her with us. Having spent time in restaurants with Helen, I was worried that she would last about 30 minutes tops. She's been a little difficult lately, signaling it's time to go by throwing everything within reach on the floor, and screaming loudly. It's hard to get a 14-month old to listen to well-reasoned arguments about good behavior in public places. Brian agreed that if I needed to escape, I could snatch her up and head for the car, and he could get a ride home.
But surprisingly, she was fine for much of the evening. Charming, smiling, watching everything around her, and even waving to people at the tables nearby. After sampling the bread and spaghetti I ordered for her, along with the grapes & raisins I had brought for her to snack on (this was after eating a full meal at home, mind you), she got more than a little antsy, and realizing we'd hit the 30 minute mark, the appetizers hadn't even arrived!
The waiter claimed they made everything from scratch when the order came in, but it took so long our calamari fritte must have been out for a nice swim at the time.
So Helen & I took a little walk around the restaurant, and found a long hallway downstairs where she could run back & forth many times. After we got back, the appetizers had arrived, and I snacked quickly because she did not want to be in the high chair again. Back downstairs we went for more running around - and this same routine followed for each course. Quick snack, then back downstairs. Except for dessert - Helen got to eat some ice cream. Score!
I think she deserves a medal. It took over 2 hours to get through dinner, and she did very well. Even though I was so exhausted when I got home I went straight to sleep, even though she got spaghetti sauce all over her new white shirt, even though it wasn't the adult evening I had pictured, I'm quite proud of her.
But next time, I'm ordering dessert first.