I sat by myself at the Macaroni Grill, in the bar section, sipping a glass of red wine and browsing through one of the three overpriced wedding magazines I picked up at Barnes and Noble. I had just placed my order with the waitress right when The Nightmare sat down. It was too late to move, or else I would have.
He was with his father; his mother had yet to arrive. Things seemed okay, but I was unaware of what would ensue. The dad was on his phone, most likely scrolling through his instagram feed, while the Nightmare was banging his silverware against the table. I glanced up through my wine glass and glared at him. Did he not realize he was completely ruining my self-date? I had specifically sat in the bar section so that I could avoid children at all costs.
“When did they start allowing children in the bar?” I thought.
Things at that point were bearable, the beautiful images of the magazines were mesmerizing, and I was able to tune out the clanking and whining.
Ohh silk ribbon would be a total ga…
“MOMMY I WANT A SHIRLEY TEMPLE!”
As I snapped out of my wedding planning dreamland I realized the Nightmare’s mother had arrived. She was a total sucker, you could just tell. She was wearing a pantsuit and looked tired.
"When do women stop wearing makeup?", I wondered.
She ordered him the Shirley Temple. When the waitress sat it down on the table, the Nightmare bounced up and down with excitement.
Do they realize how much sugar is in that drink? Sugar is practically worse than cocaine. They might as well just let their child shoot up at the table. My child will know nothing but water. Coconut water if he’s lucky.
I was halfway through my extra gluten rosemary loaf when the Nightmare had his meltdown.
“I WANT MORE BREAAAAAD. MOMMY, I. WANT. MORE. BREAD!”
His parents looked at each other as if they were playing an invisible game of rock, paper, scissors. I guess the father lost because he replied, “you can’t have anymore bread until you eat your dinner.”
You let him have a Shirley Temple, you might as well just let him have the bread.
“BUT I WANT MORE BREAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
As the waitress walked by, the mom looked up and said, “can we get some more bread please?”
I knew she was a sucker. You give him the bread now, you’re giving him everything he wants for the rest of his life. I won’t ever cave into my kid’s demands. It’s not good for a child to get everything he wants. That’s the problem with parenting these days. I’m lucky I’m not the type of person to cater to my child’s every desire, he'll thank me for that when he’s thirty.
The bread was not enough to quiet him. Things just got worse. He screamed, banged, whined, and cried for a good fifteen minutes before another invisible game of rock, paper, scissors was played. This time mom lost. She silently got up from the table, took The Nightmare by the hand and led him out of the restaurant.
We glanced at each other, and for a moment I felt sorry for her. She probably used to be fun and have cocktails with the girls. She probably said she’d never drive a minivan, but look where she is now. A minivan-driving, pantsuit-wearing makeup-less mom. Yikes. It was enough to send shivers up my spine.
I shrugged off my sympathy, and thanked the heavens that I could now enjoy my pasta in peace. The dad finished paying their bill, but sat there for another twenty minutes before getting up to leave.
Poor guy, he doesn’t want to go home. My kid won’t ever be like that.
Just then, I had a flashback of when we first got our puppy. He was so tiny, cuddly and cute. There was no way he would be one of those annoying dogs. You know - beg, get on the furniture, drool, jump up on people. We were better parents than that to ever let that happen. I remember my fiance saying to his mother, “I can’t believe you allow your dog to jump up on people. Our dog will never do that.” Well, guess what? Our dog jumps up on people.
Not only does he jump up on people, he jumped up on our glass door and broke the window all over the fedex guy. I was in my pajamas and had to apologize while trying to hide the fact that I was braless and two drinks deep. He also begs, drools, and occasionally sleeps on the bed. He chases the cat, chews up socks, and can’t be trusted around clean sheets.
He’s a nightmare.
But he’s our nightmare, and we love him. I love that dog so much that sometimes I find myself missing him in the middle of the day. Who am I kidding, I miss him all day when I have to work, and look forward to the second I get to see his snuggly face. I couldn't care less that he broke the glass, or scratched the freshly painted door. The fact that he smiles at me when we go on walks, is enough to melt my heart and make me forget any naughty thing he’s done that day.
Someday, we will have a child, and I can only imagine that I’ll love him more than I love our dog. I’ll love him more than I ever thought it was possible to love something. He will do no wrong, and I will give my last breath in exchange for his happiness, and guess what? He will probably whine at restaurants, and we’ll probably sit in the bar section to avoid a larger crowd of judging eyes. I will probably have given up on makeup, and wearing a bra will be the day’s major accomplishment. He will probably demand a soda and ice cream for dinner, and I just might be exhausted enough to cave.
At that point, I hope I glance up to see a 20-something girl sipping a glass of red wine, eating a healthy portion of judgement. I’ll remember the day I was in her spot, thinking I’d never be “that” mom with “that” kid. As I pick up my little angel and take him out the door with one sock on and a Shirley Temple smeared on his face, I’ll look up at her and say, “your kid won’t ever be “that” kid, will it?”