A parenting win

It was my wife’s birthday this weekend. In lieu of gifts, we’ve always decided that going out to dinner was a better option. “Let’s go somewhere that will be a little more lavish than we’re used to,” we seemed to tacitly agree. That’s what we’ve been doing. We get dressed up. We spend a little more. Gifts are great, but an evening with the two of us together eating great food and (perhaps) overindulging on wine is much better.

Now that we have two kids, my wife wanted to spend her birthday with the entire family. This means she wanted them to come along. I sure would have said, “screw them” and never given it a second thought, but my wife is nicer than I am. We delayed our own birthday celebration so that she could spend the night with her kids and husband. She’s nuts.

Going out is a risky proposition with two kids, ages two and six months. There’s a 75% chance that one — or both — will cause some kind of a row at a restaurant. She’ll want to sit on someone’s lap. He’ll cry or need to be fed. She’ll want to run around the restaurant; Neither will eat. There’s a very slim chance to get two kids to relax and just eat some food.

As parents, we literally don’t even care if we taste the food we order for ourselves. We don’t care if we say one thing to each other. We can just glance in each other’s directions and nod appreciatively. That’s it. Just make us look like we know what we’re doing here. Hint: We don’t. No clue. Every day is another 24 hours of survival. But the kids don’t know this. Not yet, at least.

We went for Japanese. We gave the two year old a sushi order sheet to draw on. The six month old just sat in his car seat. We ordered. My wife and daughter split a Shirley Temple.  I drank alone. Our son wanted to sit with me as I ate sushi. The girls split some pad thai.

We looked at each other nervously, but never said a word. You know how when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, you’re not allowed to talk about it in case you jinx it? It was like that.

45 minutes later, it was over. No tears or tantrums. We won. We couldn’t sign the bill fast enough. We may not earn many victories. Some days pass without any at all. We don’t do birthday gifts (though the kids “bought” her a cake). Maybe a dinner, if we were forced to include them, where everyone got along was gift enough.

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