This is an entry I wrote for our family blog but I thought it could be funny to some so I’m sharing it here, too. I imagine this experience is a similar one for many moms out there-
Traveling with toddlers is notoriously full of minor obstacles, normally surmountable. This particular morning, I was looking forward to a leisurely hotel breakfast with the two kids- the first un-rushed meal with real food after three days of aggressive mini-van road-tripping. More than the breakfast, I was really looking forward to a good cup of coffee.
We went down the “alligator” also known as the “elevator”. I found a table I could prop the kids at that allowed me full view of them while I hastily piled pancakes, eggs, oatmeal and cantoulope onto plates, thinking they might actually and uncharacteristically, eat some of it. The waiter brought chocolate milk and mini-wine glasses which I promptly returned with him. I asked for straws for the cartons. I did not know what a mistake that was until later.
After I brought the kids plates, I ran to the fruit stand and piled on some fruit for myself, and sprinted it back to the table. The kids were not eating, but were having a lot of fun with their milk cartons and straws, pulling them out and flicking chocolate milk at the businessemen and women around us. They experimented with how far they could tilt the milk into their mouths before the milk poured onto the table and themselves. So I rushed back each time I ventured to the omelet stand to give part of my order to clean up a mess and to threaten the chidren with “NO MORE CHOCOLATE MILK!”. I tried a time out in the neighboring lounge with one of them after a few screeching outbursts audible from the distant omelet line.
And, once the chef had added the cheese to my much anticipated breakfast, the last step in this excruciating exercise, I looked over and saw my son had chosen that moment to discover the drawstring of his gymnastics shorts could stretch. It not only stretched, it stretched over his head and neck. When I looked over, I witnessed my son in a mild state of suffocation. So, for the fifteenth time, I ran to him to release the self-made drawstring noose. I know some of our table neighbors blithely thought, “that was the quietest that kid’s been all morning”.
All the while, judgmental people all around me cast scornful looks my way for my general lack of competence and total inefficiency with this whole kid situation. I thought for a moment, that a brief 5 years ago, any of these briefcased and manicured people could have been me, judging a mom for failure to control her rowdy kids in public. And, I marvelled at the profound irony and pain of karmic retribution.
I sat down with my omelet. I took a bite. I still had not had coffee. So, I got up to get a carafe and a cup and I savored the caffeinated aroma that spilled into it. It was blissful. It would be good.
And then, a blood curdling scream from a B-list horror movie eruped from our table. People spilled their coffee and dropped their forks. The wait staff cast empathetic looks my way while the manager’s eyes pleaded for me to have mercy on them and just leave. My son had screamed because, in the process of stabbing his batman with his chocolate milk straw, he had dropped the milk carton onto the floor.
So, I grabbed my male child, and ushered my female child out of the restaurant. He clutched his impaled batman,straw sticking straight out of the abdomen, and I grabbed my key. My son was grasping for the floor as I held him, screaming, ”MY CHOCIT MILK!!!!!!!!” His emotion evoked that scene in Cliffhanger where Sylvester Stallone couldn’t hold onto the woman he loved and she fell to her death at the bottom of the rocky chasm. In the whirlwind, the staff asked our room number so that they could charge this lovely breakfast. The most ridiculous thing, amidst the maelstrom, I couldn’t even remember what room we were in. So, they smiled in a way that was part sympathy and part annoyance, and they let me go.
I would almost feel bad about not paying, but we really didn’t eat anything. But, there was the chocolate milk. So, I’ll be calling down to reception to pay any moment now- $25 for two chocolate milks, a whiff of coffee and one bite of an omelet. I’m taking a nap and strategizing how we’ll get through lunch.