Take your toddler out for family dinner, they said. It’ll be fun, they said…
Don’t get us wrong, family dinners out can be the very best kind of time with your toddler in tow. But it’s also worth noting that those little mites have some pretty snazzy tricks up their sleeve, when it comes to testing out your parenting know-how, patience and resilience.
Here’s ten things that might happen when you hit your local restaurant, because forewarned really is forearmed.
10 things that can happen when you take your toddler out for dinner
1. There will be a lot of seasoning
Perhaps at home you keep the salt and pepper away from your curious little one? Restaurants not only provide delicious foods and drinks, they provide salt and pepper right on the table for everybody’s sprinkly pleasure! Your toddler will merrily race you for these seasonings with their tiny, grabby hands. Once in their clutches, they will ensure everything in the vicinity is perfectly spicy and piquant. This will include you, the floor, the walls, the underground carpark. Just anything within a 500m radius, really.
2. There will be a lot of reasoning
As a carefree, child-free adult, you may never have envisaged talking your tiny offspring down from their wobbly vantage point atop a slightly greasy restaurant high-chair with a piece of string for a restraint. That was then, this is now. It’s time to wise up because your kid may well be a jumper and they have a captive audience of pulled pork-snacking folk aiming their judgey eyes at you. Fun fact: If you can negotiate with a toddler without crying (you, not them!), then your “brokering world peace” achievement is instantly unlocked.
3. There are never enough napkins
You may have previously found the napkin dispenser at your favourite eatery quite bountiful and generously loaded. Now that you have a toddler you will realise that it’s actually perfectly stingy and that the entire Southern Hemisphere does not have enough napkins to mop up all the things your baby spills.
4. The floor will resemble some kind of apocalypse
Clever parents will keep their eyes averted until the final moments of dinner, because if you look beneath the area your child is seated in, true horror will unfold. The phrase “don’t look down” was first uttered by the parent of a toddler at Smorgy’s as they surveyed the debris of the “kids eat free on Tuesdays” offer that went before them.
5. People might hate you
Let’s face it. Some people go to restaurants to chat and exchange witty repartee. When faced with your hopeful faux-cheer as you make your entrance with with your 2-year-old, their eyes will turn to flint. Know that nothing you or your toddler does will be able to melt their dark hearts. Just be yourselves and be bolstered by the knowledge that your toddler will soon be famous, profiled on the extremely cross review they post to the restaurant’s Facebook page later that night. So proud.
6. Heston Blumenthal might sue you
We’re not gonna lie, if Heston sees the things your toddler can do with the ingredients of the buffet, a squeezy bottle of tomato sauce and a sippy cup, he’ll be getting shouty about intellectual property and planning your family’s demise faster than you can say liquid nitrogen. This wouldn’t be the first time an old hand is upset by an innovative ingenue and it will not be the last. Forewarned is forearmed.
7. You might reduce the birth rate
Sometimes you touch someone’s life in a special way, and you may not even know it. Idealistic types with rose coloured glasses could often do with a shake up, some tough love and a dose of reality. Your toddler can be the tough, shaky dose they didn’t know they needed. #GivingBack
8. They will lick formerly unlickable things
If you thought that things like chair legs, fire extinguishers, cafe cats and straw dispensers were no-go zones for tongues, your toddler is about to open up a whole new world of possibility for you. Not only is the universe a toddler’s tasting plate, their enviable confidence and curiosity is their message to mankind. If they were more verbal we’re certain they’d gently whisper ‘Lick the waiter’s ankle” in you ear. So inspiring. Dream the unlickable dream, mama.
9. You’ll wish you had whisky
As your baby flings their gnocchi in the direction of neighbouring diners, your adrenaline predictably begins to surge. Your stomach knots, your eyes grow wild, you’re torn between your inside voice and a panicked howl, trying to discourage further flung fistfuls. It is in this moment that you long for a larger glass of win, Xanax or Tardis to turn things around. Whisky works too.
10. You’ll be damp, your baby will be damp, the universe will be damp – all of the fluids
You might think you’ve been soggy before. You may have previously experienced spills. Take your toddler to a restaurant, however and you’ll experience the quadruple threat of a) spit up b) discarded foodstuffs c) wee and d) poop. These forces combine to ensure you’re not only artfully slathered in a variety of damp or chunky things, but the surrounding people, area and indeed neighbourhood may well be too.
If you still think you want to go out for dinner with your toddler, then let us tell you this. Millions of toddlers and parents have gone before you and all of the above are surmountable and pretty much non-life threatening (on the whole!)
Good luck! :)