Heather and I used to love to eat out. That was kind of our thing, in fact. Back in the day our weekends revolved around dining at exciting new restaurants or old favorites, but then we became parents. Having a kid changed things, but not entirely. We still eat out – just now with a maddeningly unpredictable (yet adorable) third member of our party – and lately I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m pretty much over it.

It’s funny… when I first became a parent I thought eating out was going to be cake because Maddie always slept quietly in her car seat the whole time. I remember leaving restaurants, smug, and saying stuff like, “What are these parents complaining about? Maddie was perfect! Didn’t make a peep!”

It wasn’t long, though, before eating out with a kid got a lot more complicated. Soon eating out meant:

~Ordering my meal as fast possible. I’m used to saying, “Actually, I think we’re ready to order now!”
~Picking restaurants based on whether they hand out crayons with the menu.
~Eating with one hand while coloring with the other.
~Interrupting my meal to change a diaper.

The worst part is the constant stress that comes with trying to eat out with a kid. Heather and I are hyper aware of the possibility that Annie might disturb others, so we’re always poised to whisk her outside as quickly as possible. Eating out with a toddler is kind of like living on a fault line. Things may be quiet at the time being, but that can change fast – and I can never relax.

being quiet at dinner (Thank goodness for Yo Gabba Gabba)
Parent tip: Yo Gabba Gabba on your phone is a must.

To be fair, Annie is a good kid the vast majority of times we eat out, but it’s stressful nonetheless. And while I’m being a grumpy old man, can I say I refuse to spend seven bucks on food I can make her at home for a dollar? Those seven bucks would be well spent, however, if I could relax and have a conversation with my wife that wasn’t like this:

“I agree, I feel like this election is going to be… Put down the fork! … a real seminal moment for… What? Yes, Elmo does live on Sesame Street …you know, America, and… More milk? Okay. We’ll get more once the waitress comes back… What were we talking about again?”

Basically, I’m not sure it’s worth it to keep eating out with Annie until she is a little older, but at the same time I don’t love the idea of only eating out when we’re able to find a babysitter.

Too bad she isn’t always this easy to eat out with:

dinner with my best girl
Cause trouble? Who, me?