Eating in a restaurant with my family takes a lot of pre-planning. I think that’s true for all families with small children. But as parents of multiples, it takes logistics to a whole new level.
We choose restaurants that are (a) clean (and cross our fingers they have a changing table in the restroom), (b) eat food that doesn’t necessarily require using utensils, and (c) can be packed up quickly if we need to leave abruptly. We sit at tables that have a lot of room around us and we know precisely where the exit is. Last thing, we also try to eat out during slower times of the day (dinner at 4 o’clock anyone?)
Embarking into a restaurant is a SWAT operation. We headed into a local Rubio’s tonight, and the first thing we looked for were two high chairs. We swooped in, picked them up (while we each had a girl in our arms) and put in our seat covers to do what we can to protect our girls from the germs another child left behind.
As we wiggled their chubby little legs through the holes of the seat and cover, I noticed nearly everyone in the restaurant was staring at us. Teenagers, an old man, a middle-aged woman. Maybe they were wondering, “Oh my gosh – are those kids going to start crying?” “There are two babies…at the same time.” The teenagers stepped around the pillar in the middle of the restaurant to fixate on our group. All I could think of was, “This could be you at 15 if you don’t protect yourself. Take a really good look and remember this moment.”
Now that the girls were safely in their seats, it was a good time for my husband to go up and order. I was now left behind. Which usually entails making sure my daughters (a) don’t fall out of their seat, (b) pick up what they each through on the ground repeatedly, and (c) don’t begin to cry inconsolably, turn red, and scream at the top of their lungs.
While we eat, our fellow restaurant patrons approached our table and began to engage in conversation. They begin to ask us questions, and by now at 10 months, I should be used to them by now. But because we have just a precise window of time to eat (or rather inhale) our food, we don’t have time for chit-chat. Or creepy people. Our mission is to get in and get out before the meltdown begins.
I don’t mind talking to the women or men who say they are parents of twins or that they have grandkids who are twins — they get it. But I think I need to come up with a sign for our stroller to let us eat in peace:
1. No, these are two girls.
2. No, they are fraternal. They do look alike because they are sisters.
3. She’s wearing what you call a helmet because we’re reshaping her head.
4. She’s got a strawberry hemangioma and it will go away before she gets to pre-school.
5. No it doesn’t hurt.
I’ve been told that we won’t be able to eat out with them from the age of 13 months until about the age of three years. So I am taking every available opportunity to do so now.
We finally finished our dinner and left without incident. We left as quietly as we came in (if that’s even possible.) But next time, I am bringing the list of answers.