Thursday, July 26, 2012

Date Night with My Toddler

Outings with toddlers are a little like gambling.  Odds are not in your favor, but you go anyway, because at some point you're going to win, and it's going to feel GREAT, even if you're still netting out negative. 

Before Andrew was born, Will and I used to go places together all the time.  There was only one nap schedule to follow, and only one feed me / change me / pack stuff to feed me and change me to take care of.  Will and I still get out and about every day, but more often than not we're just drawing with chalk on the driveway or swinging in the backyard while Andrew naps inside. 

I've been missing those days when Will and I would go out to lunch once a week, or for walks where I would literally let him run free and explore because I had one kid and two hands.  So tonight, when my regular babysitter was here and with Greg needing to work through dinner, I decided to leave Andrew in capable hands and go out to the local pizza place with Will for a toddler date night.


So, it was fun.  It really was.  But I have to laugh at my high expectations. 

Will and I are going to dinner!  Just the two of us!  It's going to be awesome!  We're going to have so much FUN!  I love pizza!  Will loves pizza!  I can't wait!

Sure honey, you can sit in the booth and not in the high chair!  You know why?  Because it's just the two of us.  And this is your night.  You're having pizza out with Mom, and it's awesome.  Except now you can reach all the condiments.  Drat.  And the roll of paper towels.  Whoops.  And you're standing and jumping up and down and screaming "HI!!  TRUCK!!! TRUCK!!! HI!!!" because you can see a truck stopped at the traffic light.  Which would be less disruptive if you weren't still working on the hard "t" sound, because to the untrained ear it sounds as though you're screaming obscenities.  Luckily, the only other diners are some self absorbed and happily chatting teenagers a few booths down.  Still, I whip out my phone, find the video we took of a railroad crossing, and press play.  Silence.  Whew.  "TRAIN!!! COMING!!! COMING!!!! TRAIN!!!"  Drat.  Time to start shoveling in bites of pizza.

"Ma'am?  Did you order some fries?"  Of course I did.  It's fun night with mommy, we're eating pizza and fries and it's awesome and we're having so much fun.  "They're very, very hot, be careful."  "EHH!!!! EHHHHH!!!!! MWEHHH!!!"  (That's the toddler noise for please give me all of those super hot french fries RIGHT NOW, and every parent of young children knows EXACTLY what noise I am talking about.)

Fast forward a bit.  The fries have cooled down.  The battle over how much ketchup ("dip?  dip?") is necessary, and who is going to squeeze the bottle has been fought and won.  Will has so much ketchup on his face that I could have been dining with a mini- Eric Northman, complete with control issues.  I have to remind myself that there is zero reason to coax my child to eat pizza instead of french fries, just call the night a wash and be glad he had an amazing and nutritious lunch and we don't do this often.

With the arrival of the french fries and ketchup, I at least got the phone back so I didn't have to sit next to a toddler using my iphone whom I had rather hoped would be basking in my undivided attention and the awesomeness of the fifties style pizza place.

I finished my slice of pizza while Will tried to forcibly squeeze his way around me so he could get out of the booth and explore.  I let him walk up and down the one step between the dining room and cash registers, hoping he wouldn't faceplant, while I frantically cleaned up the ketchup disaster.  Let him throw away his own utensils, and off to the car and home to the babysitter and Andrew.


I have to say, date nights with Greg are a lot more relaxing.  But there were some real high moments to our pizza night.  Will's determination to get the coins in the slot when I showed him how to feed the parking meter.  The satisfaction on his face when I held the paper towel roll so he could pull a piece off.  Seeing him delicately dab his face with the paper towel, missing all the ketchup.  The smile when he realized I would hand him as many french fries as he asked for even if he clearly couldn't hold them all.

Yes, there were some interesting moments.  My toddler-bug is a toddler.  He's got a lot of curiosity and ideas and he wants to explore, explore, explore.  It's not going to be like it was before Andrew was born.  It's a new kind of amazing :)

I love you, Will.

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