I love to eat out. I mean, I really love to eat out. It's not that I don't like cooking, it's just that there are some things that I can't make as well as a restaurant. I also like having endless Diet Cokes delivered to the table as well.
That said, we don't eat out very often. Most restaurants are so busy around here that Michael cannot survive the 45 minute wait for a table, let alone sitting through a meal that he won't touch. Plus, after the major meltdown Michael had in a restaurant this past fall, we haven't even tried for months.
On Friday, I really wanted a cheeseburger. Specifically, a mushroom swiss burger from PJ Whelihans . I mentioned it to Andy and he wasn't thrilled about the idea. He wasn't in the mood to haul a screaming child from a restaurant. But, my desire for a burger won out and we headed out to the restaurant.
PJ's is an interesting place. It's a pub/sports bar. They do a brisk happy hour business on Friday evenings. However, somehow they are also a family restaurant. It seems like an odd mix, but the place has one thing going for it as a kid's place. It's loud! Really loud. They often have live music that drowns out even the most obnoxious tantrum a kid can throw. So, good food, beer, and a noise level that covers up the less desirable sounds of children with live music. Score!
I'll be honest. When we do something like this I try very hard to keep my expectations realistic. Expecting Michael to sit quietly and color while we wait and then to eat his meal enthusiastically is just setting things up for failure. I decided that a "good" experience would be Andy and I being able to finish our food before being forced to leave by a crazy child. Oh yeah, and nothing major spilled.
What did I get?
Michael was great. He sat and colored his entire menu. When he was done, I flipped it over and wrote simple words in bubble letters for him to color in. He was perfectly happy to color while Andy and I downed a plate of wings. (Wing Bowl Wings! Not that anyone outside of Philly will get that.) When dinner was served, Michael picked up his spoon and neatly and patiently worked his way through half a dish of Mac N Cheese. I was able to enjoy every bite of my burger.
When we were done, Michel got a dish of ice cream for dessert. Considering how much he had already eaten I was surprised at how much ice cream he ate. I even got a giggle when he lifted the bowl to drink the final drips of ice cream.
I've dreamed about having an evening like this since the day Michael was born. We have tried it before, but we rarely enjoy the food because we spend so much time trying to keep Michael interested. For once, we all relaxed and enjoyed ourselves and had a nice family meal together. It makes me hopeful that there may be more civil behavior for us on the horizon.