Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Party of Four


I remember going out to dinner with my family when I was a little kid. A fact that may not seem impressive at first, but considering our limited finances resulting in maybe one night out a year, I dazzle myself with any recollection. Then again, maybe it’s because it was such a big deal that my memory serves me. At any rate, it was a reward that didn’t necessarily take the children into much consideration. Had it been, our twelve year old Chevy Suburban would have parked it’s over 100,000 mile self in the parking lot of the nearest McDonald’s. Instead, we visited my mom’s favorite – a Mexican restaurant named “Cocina Del Charro”. WITHOUT FAIL, every visit resulted in me chomping down on that one fatal jalapeno seed that left me gasping for air and begging for more water. (I would have used soda, but that’s a luxury we reserved for road trips only. And even then we only bought one, took turns passing it around the car, and watched carefully for any rule breakers who were taking “gulps” instead of “sips”. Aaaahh…memories.) Where was I? Oh yeah, anaphylactic shock brought on by offensive jalapeno seeds.

But as it turns out, I still love Mexican food.

So tonight we went to Mexican food, and I always think that my children will be as excited as I am to eat somewhere else. And they would be if…well, if we were going to McDonald’s. But alas, I have morphed into my mother and I would sooner crawl naked over broken glass than spend my Saturday night within a six mile radius of a Playland. Still I try to make the sell, but somehow “Look, free chips and salsa!” doesn’t capture their enthusiasm as much as “Hey, 38 kids in a room surrounded by glass so you can hear everything even LOUDER.” Nevertheless, I reject the young protestors, particularly because unlike myself at their age they have seen the interior of every Golden Arches this side of the Rocky Mountains. They don’t know how lucky they are, and they’re not very interested in hearing me explain it.

So the night began with two pouting children. All the way to the restaurant I pondered how I managed to raise such spoiled individuals and grew increasingly frustrated the closer we got. While second thoughts of “why didn’t we just get a babysitter?” ran through my head, we sat down and began perusing our menus. “May I get you something to drink to get started?” Flashing back to age 9 I start to say, “just water” until I remind myself how much we’re saving by not hiring a babysitter and order sodas all around. Which is good, because then Drew can drink a solid 16 ounces of root beer before dinner even gets here. Samantha seems distracted by the ceiling fan turning circles over our heads and starts to complain because it’s making shadows. Drew begs to eat a packet of sugar - I explain why that’s unhealthy while he sips his carbonated, sugared drink through a straw and waits for his flour tortilla covered in melted cheese.

Cory and I try to begin a normal conversation but we are interrupted by Drew kicking Samantha’s feet under the table. I switch places with Samantha. Cory and I try to begin again. Samantha covers her head because the shadows on the wall from the fan are too much for her to bear. Dinner arrives – the kids eat about 3 bites each, which means we just spent seven dollars on some soda and cheese. By the time the check arrives Drew is under the table becoming acquainted with germs that are surely being investigated under a microscope somewhere in the world and I am seriously considering never eating out again. I have two kids, my parents had seven. Maybe the reason we only went out once a year had nothing to do with money after all…?

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