The Last Supper

John in a restaurant, blissfully unaware of the nuclear meltdown going on right beside him.

Dinner out. When I was younger, the thought of eating out held such an appeal. It was extremely rare that my family would go to a restaurant and, when we did, I was in awe of the experience. I got to pick whatever I wanted to eat (within reason of course) and I got to sit there and chat and giggle with my family until the food came. And then, to top it all off, I did not have to wash one single dish! Awesomeness!

As an adult, the appeal of dinner out is still there but, much like my belief in Santa Claus, with age has come the knowledge that my fantasy does not live up to the reality of the situation. Gone are the dreams of a nice candle-lit dinner with my husband, with good food and good conversation. Oh no! Now, we have the kids and the kids do not care anything about whether or not we have had any time for romance lately. They are not concerned about providing us with ample time to gaze into each other’s eyes. And they are definitely not worried about the dinner conversation being centered around discussing grown up topics. Kids are kids, and they bring a whole new dynamic to the eating out experience. And during our last dinner out with our family, my husband looked at me from across the table, while holding a struggling and crying Jace in a vice-like grip, and said “This is the LAST time we are taking these kids out to eat!” I agreed wholeheartedly and here are the top ten reasons why…

1. THE COST. When you take a family of seven out to eat, there are certain expectations that you must have as far as your finances are concerned. I am a thrifty person so it irks me to no end to spend the same amount I would spend on 4 days worth of groceries just to feed my family one meal. Even without ordering soft drinks and other extras, our tab can easily hit the $75 mark. That is no bueno and I refuse to pay another bill that high unless it is a hospital emergency room copayment!

2. THE CRYING. For some reason, whenever I get in my moods where I do not feel like cooking, I think that going out to dinner is a relaxing alternative to me slaving away over a hot stove. In reality, instead of sucking it up and performing my kitchen duties, I instead become the leading lady in my own sitcom titled “How many reasons can Jace and Isaiah come up with to cry in this restaurant?” I mean it never fails. Even if my youngest two children are in the best moods that they have ever experienced, once we enter a restaurant, they will find a reason to cry out loud enough to move the heavens and the earth. I’m surprised that all of the local restaurants in our area don’t have a special sound-proof section labeled “For Them Oteys” because when we come, we bring the noise.

3. THE FIGHTING. Not to be outdone by the little kids crying, the older kids have to meet their fight quota for the day and having a spat in a restaurant is just as good a place as any to make that happen. It can be something as stupid as arguing over where they are going to sit or AJ stating that the kids menu is for 12 and under and then announcing that Jacqueline is 12 and he is 13, Jacqueline then tells him to shut up and mind his own business and then BAM! Jace is now chanting the words “shut up” over and over like an insane robot-child and Isaiah is egging things on by saying “YEAH” to whoever has taken a turn verbalizing their argument. It’s stupid because really, they almost always order something that they never wind up eating anyway which brings me to my next point.

4. THE FOOD. Yes, the food. Somehow, no matter what happens throughout the evening, something almost ALWAYS happens to my food. On this last trip out, I caught Isaiah digging his hand in my salad. I angrily asked him why he was sticking his dirty fingers in my food (pet peeve alert) and he told me, all while still digging around in my formerly healthy leafy greens, that he was NOT digging in my salad but was simply searching for his broken crayon that he dropped inside the lettuce while I was busy trying to keep his baby brother from flinging a fork or some other sharp object across the table. Well, now I have crayon chunks and little fingers fresh from a new rub across an allergy medicine resistant snotty nose down in my salad. Of course, I’m sure the restaurant isn’t going to want to eat the cost on replacing that salad so now I have food on the table that I can no longer eat. Hmmm, I am loving the money I am spending on items that will remain on the table long after we make our grand finale exit from this establishment.

5. THE WAIT. Believe it or not, many restaurants find that seating a party of 6 or 7 to be a bit out of the ordinary so we usually have at least a 20 min wait, if not longer just to get a table. Then we have to wait for the water order because God forbid you order food and drinks at the same time in these places. Then there is the wait for them to cook up enough food to feed an entire sports team. Honestly, at this point, I could have fed the whole clan their favorite breakfast cereal for dinner and had them strapped, I mean tucked snug in their beds. Note to self on that point!

6. THE BATHROOM. No matter how many times I ask my children to use the bathroom before they leave home, they will ALWAYS have to go when we go out to eat. And it’s usually not until the waiter sets my hot food on the table that one of the little ones needs to make an emergency trip.  And, of course, since most public restrooms are little more than outhouses with indoor plumbing, I usually wind up fighting a losing battle with my germophobic side and the stress of wondering what other little bodily fluid laced hands have just touched the same areas drives me absolutely nuts.

7. THE WAITER. This poor man or woman usually winds up as confused as can be due to my children’s inability to stop shouting out orders to the wait staff as they rush back and forth past our table, trying not to make eye contact. Isaiah is usually the worst at this. He is so excited to be dining out that he looks at the waiter as his own personal genie. I have had to practically duct tape his mouth shut to keep him from ordering things that I do not want to pay for.

8. THE CONVERSATION. What conversation? I mean, unless you think that using the words “stop”, “no”, “don’t do that”, “sit down”, “you are going to get it when we get out of here”, so on and so forth to be conversation then there is none to be had. Period.

9. THE SPILLS. Ah yes, the spills. I do not think we’ve had a dinner out since AJ was born that didn’t involve someone toppling over a drink, a plate, a chair, another person, or something during the course of the evening. Of course the kids always get covered drinks but they either take the tops off or they knock over someone else’s drink. I still remember the look of utter and complete shock on my mother’s face when one of her “lovely grandchildren” knocked over her drink right into her lap. Brings a whole new meaning to the word “refreshment” doesn’t it?

10. THE MISCELLANEOUS CRAP. As if the spills, thrills, fighting, crying, and excessive cost of time and money that this family excursion is going to cost me wasn’t enough, I also have to mention the miscellaneous crap that usually happens when we take our tribe out for the evening. The poopie diapers, vomiting, falling, smashed fingers between chairs, false grandparent sightings which cause undue stress and mental harm to little Jace, sudden thunder storms when crossing the parking lot with a ton of children and other mishaps that put the icing on the cake of my crappy dinner out excursions round out my list of reasons why we need to stay home instead or venturing out just for the sake of eating.  When I look at this list it is a reminder to myself to just not even bother. Going out to dinner will NOT be a fun treat. It will NOT be less stressful than me cooking. And it will NOT end well, no matter what we do. Are our children well-behaved and taught manners? Yes they are! But trying to contain the circus that is having this many children is just pointless and so I will simply be sure to keep sandwich fixings stocked in my kitchen because, although I am not psychic,  I can definitely guarantee there will come another day that I will not feel like cooking!

Do you have a funny story that involves taking your family out to dinner? Leave a comment and tell us all about it! If you like what you’ve read, please share this post with a friend!

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