A Table for Three

“Is there anything else I can get for you?” the server asked.


This wasn’t the response of some blowhard patron, unburdened by the convention of treating wait staff with human decency. It’s the response of a hungry 2-year-old who doesn’t care that dinner cannot be materialized from the ether.

It’s not a one-time occurrence. It’s every time we go to a restaurant. The waiters and waitresses smile and walk away at this point, too polite to outwardly acknowledge the outburst (at least in our presence). After all, he’s 2, but it sure makes the food come faster.

You’d be surprised how little time it actually takes to cook up some restaurant food, even during the busy times. All you need to do to discover this, is bring a hungry toddler.

When I was a smoker many years ago, I believed lighting a cigarette could make the meal appear faster. When I quit smoking, I figured a trip to the bathroom would do the trick. Now that I’m a parent I realize it’s bringing a tiny human that is the golden ticket to a shorter wait. The restaurant staff is always courteous and personable, but they recognize a ticking time bomb when they see one.

Much to Jamie’s chagrin, the meals don’t appear out of the ether, and that means mom and dad are tasked with keeping a 2-year-old occupied. This whole fatherhood thing has upped my tic-tac-toe game, especially when my opponent cannot draw the requisite Xs and Os. My other options are to hand the crayons over to the kid for more refrigerator art, or listen to the same soundtrack of urgent requests for more food. We sometimes have a random assortment of toys with us in a bag, or Meg’s purse if the menu activities aren’t up to snuff.

The speed of the dining process typically stalls out when his meal arrives. It’s well documented that toddlers are picky, messy eaters.

I could’ve written this entire blog post while he ate his meal. If I didn’t move the process along, he might be eating last night’s dinner tonight.

On a quiet night, you might be able to hear the “No! No! No! No! No!” chant coming from the far west suburbs of Chicago. That’s Jamie shaking his head while we try to feed him something he told us was good 30 seconds earlier.

One other thing about restaurant meals. When we had a table for two, it was often an intimate experience, depending not the restaurant. Now, it is an outgoing and extroverted experience. People who were strangers before the meal are waving and conversing with Jamie by the end. He has an outgoing personality.

There is no such thing as an intimate meal with someone who says hi to every person they see, and whose voice carries to the next town over.


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