From disaster to divine (well sort of)

Oh what a difference a few months can make.

My husband and I had all but given up on the concept of eating out, or at least anywhere that didn’t have an indoor playground.

Miles, now 2.5, is a great kid and a typical toddler. (Read: high energy, loving, chaotic, tantrum-throwing, curious, playful, you get the picture, UNPREDICTABLE!) So this typical toddler behavior made public outings challenging to say the least.

I remember the days of having an infant. I could have Miles snuggly in a sling and fellow diners wouldn’t even know he was with us. He’d sleep through the meal or just gaze around. And if got hungry I could nurse him or feed him with a bottle of breast milk I’d brought along. But the trips were easy, breezy.

Fast-forward to the moment he became mobile — all bets were off. A high chair was only tolerable for about 30 minutes, never enough time to order, get the food and then eat. A toddler’s version of “fetch” was the only entertainment that would suffice (drop toy on floor, laugh maniacally as I repeatedly bent over and picked it up only to have it swiftly thrown back on the floor along with the contents of the meal I’d prepared and packed along with us.)

And when even fetch became tired, because it eventually even bores the one doing the throwing, that’s when the trouble really started. Miles would fuss to get out of the seat but the second he got out he wanted to be on the move. And if you didn’t get him out he would scream, yes, scream. There really wasn’t a whimper or a fuss. He could go whisper to scream in 2.3 seconds. It’s actually quite impressive.

So eating out lost it’s charm and appeal. Yes, we still did it because, like childbirth, you forget how painful the experience is. And there were occasions where it was almost necessary too making the whole experience even more stressful.

But we’ve turned a corner.

One of my dearest friends and Miles’ godfather came to visit from Chicago this weekend. John has been such a big part of my life for so long that it isn’t just me that loves him but my mom and sister have grown quite fond of him as well. So we made plans to have brunch Sunday at Tin Man Brewing Co.

As excited as I was to try Tim Man out I was quite anxious that it might not be the place for my kiddo to continue to cut his dinning out teeth.

I’d warned John — this may end up disastrous. We even had an escape plan routed out just in case things got dicey.

But you know what, we didn’t need it. Things went really well. He sat in his seat for almost the entire meal. He actually ate a few things (not his own food, but he loved my frittata.) There was no screaming. The typical trail of food was replaced by just a few crumbs. And there were no spilled drinks.

Behind us was a large group with several kids of various ages. A few of them were in the difficult stage themselves. When I heard some mini-tantrums and saw a mom doing the “restaurant stroll” that parents learn to do early on, I gave a supportive smile. Been there, and I will be there again.

The worst part of the day was when Miles insisted on flirting with one of the little girl’s sitting behind us and put his mouth on the seat. My concerns were quickly soothed with my husband’s realist attitude, “Eh, at this point any germs on there he’s already licked off. Let him enjoy himself.”

So he did. All of us actually enjoyed ourselves.

What age did your little ones “turn the corner?” Are you still in that difficult phase? What’s your best strategy?

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