We don't get out much. This is partly because we don't have many babysitters to leave the kids with and partly because going out with a three year old and a 17 month old is not for the faint at heart, though I do feel like a wimp in this regard whenever I see our neighbors pack up their SUV with their five children ages 11, 9, 7, almost 5 and 2 and head out. They do this frequently, and if you've read any of my previous posts about the neighbors, you will be quick to recognize that this is a very good thing. We like it when they leave.
In a courageous moment, we decided to take the whole family out on Memorial Day. We then made it 3.5 miles down the road after picking up Grandpa and Grandma before Son started saying, "Done" and trying to get his safety belt off. He fussed the rest of the way to Wonders of Wildlife (Daughter's "favorite place to go in the whole world") until we freed him from his restraints. The next hour and a half went fairly smooth, but that all fell apart when we crossed the parking lot to get back into the family mobile and leave. That's when Son started running the other direction and screaming and arching his back when I tried to grab him. He then flailed like a fish out of water and screamed at the top of his lungs and continued to arch his back while three adults tried to stuff him into his car seat. We all tried real hard to go to our own respective happy places while Son continued his tirade all the way to the unlucky restaurant we chose. Son got over himself enough to sit in a highchair at the table for 30 seconds before he insisted on getting down and running around and trying to trip to wait staff with their big trays of food. Anything that didn't go exactly as he wanted it to was met with another outburst of screaming and head shaking and hand waving. I was sure he was just really hungry and that the crisis would pass when he got some food. I was trying to be optimistic, which is something I don't do well or often.
When the food arrived, Son was under the table refusing to come out. I was sure we could bribe him with the food, but he wasn't interested. He screamed when Husband drug him out from under the table and tried to hold him. He screamed when I tried to hold him. He screamed when Grandpa tried to hold him. I was getting tired of being the customers from Hell that were getting all the stares and annoying looks, so we let him do whatever he wanted just so he would shut up. He proceeded to go back under the table and try to climb out the other side where his big sis was perched in her booster chair. He was not gonna give up until he got his way. By the way, I am fully aware that having a strong-willed child is my own personal penance, so don't rub it in.
Fortunately, Grandma was with us and rescued him (or should I say, rescued us). With all four adults working at the task, we managed to move the table out far enough for Grandma (who was sitting next to Daughter) to pull Son up from under the table and hold him in her lap. He was finally happy, because he apparently wanted to go fishing in Grandma's salad. So Grandma continued to hold him while his chubby little fingers disappeared over and over again into the center of her salad and came out with a black bean. He wasn't interested in anything that was on his own plate. Just black beans from the middle of Grandma's salad. And Grandma let him do as he pleased, because, well...because she's Grandma.
Now that Son was pleased with his new quiet preoccupation, we could finally stop dancing around the table playing "pass the baby." We stopped getting stares and annoying looks from the other customers, and we all managed to eat our meals. Except Grandma, who wasn't very hungry after all. Who could blame her?
We dropped Grandma and Grandpa off with an open invitation to join us again whenever they need a little extra stress in their lives, and as we headed home, we felt freshly reminded of why we don't do this very often.