Prof and I headed to the beach on Saturday morning, car packed full of instruments, paddles, kayaks and all sorts of other stuff we didn't end up needing or using. I had invited another couple to join us for Saturday night. Not really uncharacteristic of me, except that I also invited their toddler.
I've finally come to grips with the fact that if I want to see my friends, I'm going to have to readjust my schedule and expectations. And the expectation that diapers and drool shouldn't be part of my birthday celebrations had to get tossed this weekend. Also, the expectation that I can leave a beer bottle on the table and walk away... yeah, that one got tossed too.
I've never had to adjust my schedule to a toddler's. Dinner is at 8 on a Saturday night, right? Nope. Baby cranky meltdown is at 8, so dinner better damn well be wrapping up by then. The first place we went had a 2 hour wait. Two hours! The second place we went was totally empty, but the host told me they were completed booked with reservations in 30 minutes. I wondered if that was true, or if he saw the toddler and lied his ass off to avoid us being in his restaurant. Then I wondered if the first girl had lied to us about the wait. Then I started to feel totally discriminated against. And I don't even have a kid!
We finally made our way to a place with a deck on the water. And high chairs on the deck. Thank god, because we were counting down to meltdown. Baby's, not mine. But mine wasn't far behind. Trust me.
We had a lovely dinner, with an occasional ear piercing shriek from baby. She would be totally happy one second, then lose it, then get attention and be fine. She moved through emotions so quickly I could hardly keep up. I couldn't believe how much it took to keep her happy and quiet enough to be in a public place. How completely exhausting for the parents.
I could see some of the surrounding tables shooting glances our way every once in a while. Particularly after the little shrieking events. And prior to this experience, that would have been me. Looking over at the parents, tsking them in my mind for bringing their kid to an adult restaurant. Tsking them for having a badly behaved child. Saying mean things in my head about breeders.
But not anymore man. One night with that kid (and she's a good one, I can't imagine doing that with a cranky one), and I have become sympathetic. No longer are those parents just selfishly ruining my dinner. They are exhausted and overwhelmed, struggling to retain some tiny sense of pre-infant normalcy while catering to this little human that threatens to ruin it with one poopy diaper.
And, if that's not enough... I did it the very next day with a different toddler. Different parents, different restaurant, same meltdown time.
Thirty-five years old, and I can finally deal with babies at the dinner table. But definitely don't ask me to babysit.