Today was a first for our family. Any time we are in public, Bud and I realize that we attract attention. Maybe it's simply the fact that we have three children age five or under. Maybe it's because my husband is just so handsome. (He would deny that as the cause!) Maybe it's because Asher is such a little sweetie, Greta's eyes are deep and mysterious, and Sadie looks like the child actress in Matilda. Or maybe people can sense (at least on good days) how much we truly love each other. Random folks regularly come up to us with positive comments on our parenting, our children, or our expressed emotional state.
We traversed a whopping 4 miles to Messiah Village, a local retirement community. The occasion was to dine at the Fireside Grille, utilizing a gift card that would completely cover the bill. We had prepped the girls and fully answered their questions ahead of time. Yes- we were going out to eat. No- it wasn't McDonald's. (Praise the Lord!) No- we didn't know if they had a kid's meal. No-other children would probably not be there, although plenty of older adults would enjoy them. No-toys will not be offered with the meal. And finally no-we would not be enjoying an indoor play area after our meal. In other words, the world of adult food was awaiting them for Sunday brunch. Did we dare to place our children in such a setting? YES YES YES!
I walked into the restaurant with the girls, and they were mesmerized by the water flowing down a pane of glass, trickling from the ceiling to the floor. Greta quite loudly remarked that she "loved that splashing water" and wanted to "touch it with my finger." Immediately, a hostess commented that she had a very large voice for such a small girl. Possible translation: This kid really is loud and may not be appropriate for this setting! Inside, my heart just sank as I wondered what other veil criticism might be lurking in the next hour. The five of us were led to a table clothed in linen with clothe napkins and two forks. I had to remind myself to keep breathing, since I recognized the delicate balance of manners, patience, and respect that would ensue. The environment was lovely...beautiful wall hangings, elegant upholstery, carpet, a fireplace, a player piano singing sweetly. Older couples and small groups of ladies were quietly eating their meal and turned their heads to take us in visually. We soon made our presence known audibly, too. Greta decided to test her lungs by seemingly YELLING to us about her numerous observations and desires. So also quickly picked up her utensils and starting beating them together. She then decided to give both of them a pitch as another hostess swooped in to rescue them from the floor. You could almost hear the TISK TISKING as she gave me a glance that spoke of my inability to control my children. Sadie was afloat with questions including "Why do we have two forks? What are these towels for? What are these cups with handles and plates underneath?" Delightful. In the meantime, Asher was in the middle of pushing out some poops and his brute grunts certainly added to the ambiance.
We all chose the breakfast buffet, which was quiet tasty. It featured eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, and friend potatoes. Plus, we even enjoyed Boston creme pie for dessert! The food was splendid, really. We managed to enjoy ourselves, albeit leaving eggs on the carpet, peaches that Asher spit at me on the tablecloth, and a half-used ketchup container.
And yes...many folks came up to us and commented how wonderful it was to see a family. (Did we have someone who lived there that we were visiting? Uh, no.) They thought that Asher was adorable and that we certainly did enjoy our children. So, in the end, a little rowdiness, a slight change of pace for Fireside Grill was a good thing. Bring in some youthful energy, some exuberant voices, provocative question, a pooping professional, and these older folks were just reconnected with themselves from yesteryear. We left, thankful that we didn't have to cook and clean up lunch at our house and happy with the entire experience. We stuck out from the crowd and didn't fit the expected demographic nor behavior. We walked away, satisfied and ready to apply this lesson of nontraditionalness to future situations. Our family is called to be different, and we love it. And yes, we'll return for another visit to Fireside Grille. I have another gift card tucked into my coupon file for a future Sunday when Mama just can't muster up the gumption to cook. :)
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