Never Skip Lunch



Yesterday I spent the night in a hotel in New Haven, Connecticut. It was bliss. And all I really did was get there at 9:00 pm, eat two small bags of chips, drink a can of club soda, flip TV channels, sleep through the night, wake up on my own when my body was ready, go back to sleep, get out of bed, do yoga, eat a very mediocre hotel breakfast, shower, and go to my book talk. This was heaven. Absolute paradise.

And I kept thinking, what if Gwen was here too? We could relax. And cuddle. Maybe even have sex if we could remember how. We might have to call the porter for tips. He could stand over us and give pointers. I’m fairly sure that porters have a lot of sex. Actually, I’m fairly sure that anyone without young children has a lot of sex.

The next day, I get home from my retreat to a total debacle. We start the day at a three-year-old’s birthday party. Gwen and I forget to make sure our two boys eat a proper lunch during the festivities. So when we got home, we set the boys at the kitchen table for a big snack. By now, though, they are beyond hungry and bursting with agitation and emotion. Powder kegs. Gwen checks our voice mail and finds that our babysitter has canceled. Gwen and I were supposed to have a date. Gwen is devastated.

We let the boys know that our babysitter, whom they adore, is not coming. Explosion. First Noah is screaming. This is too much for little Benji and so, like a domino, he, too, is beside himself. Gwen scoops up Benji. I sit with Noah. Between sobs he eats his tuna and settles down. So does Benji.

After lunch they play happily for twenty minutes. We watch each of them put on a puppet show. Then Gwen and I steal away to hatch a plan. We’ll head to a playground and then go out to dinner.

The playground is a lot of fun.

Then dinner. Our biggest mistake of the day. We decide to go to our date restaurant. It’ll be fun. They have amazing Belgian French fries (and duck gravy for dipping).

We park. We get seated. We order. Noah’s mac and cheese arrives. So does Benji’s shrimp. Benji sees Noah’s noodles and wants them. Noah does not want to give them up. He is a kid and does not say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think I’d like to share that.” Instead, he says, “Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!”

And of course this knocks over little Benji, who joins in on the chorus with absolute gusto. We are in a fancy restaurant. Noah and Benji are the only children there, and they are screaming at the top of their lungs. People are drinking $9 glasses of Shiraz and nano-brewed beers. I look across the table and Gwen is hiding under her napkin. Literally. As if it’s a large sombrero.

By the way, I forgot to mention that Gwen had left her sweater in the car, so as a shawl, draped casually over her shoulders, she is wearing a pair of Noah’s sweatpants from the diaper bag. She looks quite elegant in her sweatpants shawl and cloth napkin hat.

So Benji wants the mac and cheese. Noah screams and won’t share. I tell him to give Benji some noodles and I’ll order more. He acquiesces. I order more. Benji and Noah devour both portions. With a whirl of my arm, like a sailor in a bar, I order another round. “Keep ’em coming!”

Finally, the boys are done. Gwen has not touched her steak. I’ve finished my chicken but have no memory of eating it. We get the check. Including the tip, it’s the most expensive meal Gwen and I have ever eaten out. And we’re nauseated from the stress.

The moral of the story? Maybe sometimes it ain’t easy. Or perhaps Don’t skip lunch. That one’s probably true. At least it would have made my day a whole lot better.


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  1. 14

    Momagain says

    Lesson: one ‘event’ per day.

    Even if lunch had happened on time and the afternoon meltdown hadnt happened, the party was your one thing. Going out and leaving them with a sitter wasnt even an option, unless you planned on tipping her really well, or they were asleep when she arrived. Taking them out anywhere but a drive-thru was certainly off the cards after a party, a disrupted meal ischedule induced meltdown and a trip to the park.

    But, yeah, when mine were that age, i would have done all these things. And raged if my own or any other Grandma tried to tell me otherwise.

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  2. 16


    Never take young children to a fancy restaurant. Trust me, I’ve worked in restaurants for years, everyone in there will hate you if this happens. Its not the children’s fault, it’s the parents. You are not only ruining it for the other guests, you’re also ruining the experience for yourself and it’s embarrassing for all. Plus, Mac n chz from any restaurant is so expensive, not including your own meals. Wait until you have a sitter.

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  3. 19


    I love my kids but they are not nearly reliable enough to take out to a sit down restaurant…lol. When they were younger I could take them to Olive Garden or something like that and they’d eat the breadsticks while they wait, but I haven’t found a place that does that and I hate going to OG. Now we just order for pickup and everyone is happy. Adults get real food and the kids aren’t going batty because food isn’t at the table in their ridiculous timeline of .000005 seconds. I have however, seen some pretty well behaved kids at the “fancy” places…so it’s not ALL kids. When I go on the rare date night, I’m not bothered by kids being there at the fancy place….I’m a parent of two irish-italian boys. Noise is nothing new for me. Here’s the bottom line: Didn’t have to cook it. Didn’t have to clean up after it. Didn’t have to tell my kids to stop eating with their face fifty bagazillion times per second. Pick your battles!

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  4. 21

    Mary says

    Wow…. So many assumptions!!

    Maybe they were the only kids there, so what? Should having kids mean staying at home 24/7 and never going out? How do you expect kids to learn manners if you don’t take them places they need to use them?

    Sure, maybe a dinner out after a stressful day wasn’t the greatest idea, but you never know how kids will act. If they were fine at the park, it might’ve seemed like a good idea.

    We ALL make mistakes as parents. Instead of pointing out the obvious, maybe we could all work on being a little more supportive, and give this mom, who surely realizes that the restaurant was a bad idea (seriously, how dumb do you think she is??), a sympathetic smile and a pat on the back?

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    • 23


      AMEN!!! thank you, my children also come first. i don’t care if anyone else likes it or not. i will take my child where ever i choose. if the rest of you don’t like it… YOU CAN LEAVE!!! Lauren… you are my hero. thank you for standing up and telling it like it is! ;)

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  5. 26


    I’ve taken my 9 month old to all sorts of restaurants since he was born, including several fancy restaurants. He has always behaved really well, can’t even tell a baby was there. The one time he had a meltdown at a restaurant we asked the waiter to pack our meals and left. It was out of respect for the other diners and because it is embarrassing and uncomfortable. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him and it was completely out of character for him. On occasion if he gets a little cranky we step outside and calm him down…usually works like charm…we are able to enjoy our dinner and so do the other patrons. I adore my little man but agree that we have to be good citizens and it is unfair to have a 9 month old crying while you eat a $50 steak.

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