The Birthday Chump

His words, not mine.


It all started when I asked Alex what he wanted for his birthday dinner. Per usual, we didn’t think far enough ahead to get a babysitter, so our options were limited. Our criteria: food that Alex likes, loud atmosphere, and chicken fingers on a kid’s menu, preferably with a small bowl of ice cream included. Voila! The Macaroni Grill. Bonus: Paper placemats and crayons.


We were to meet Alex there at 6, so fresh from getting three little-boy haircuts (Sam’s hair was too tall, according to him), we drove to meet him., Unfortunately, Jack and Quinn fell asleep. This wasn’t too big of a deal for Jack, but it turned Quinn into a raving lunatic.


We were seated almost immediately. Jack tried to insist on sitting in Quinn’s high chair, but settled on a booster precariously balanced on a chair. Sam sat down and began to create the most intricate street scene I have ever seen him draw, complete with road signs, traffic lights, and our whole family inside a car. Quinn decided to freak out. Yelling, throwing his body around (fortunately he was seated next to a sharp rock wall), and generally being a loud little jerk. So, it being Alex’s birthday, I volunteered to take Quinn outside. Where he was perfectly happy.


After a bit, when I thought he might be done with being out in the cold and when I was sure the kids’ food was probably well on its way, we went back inside. Whereupon Quinn immediately began to loudly sob, “Outside! Outside! Outside!” Attracted by all the noise, a server not assigned to our section took pity on us and finally took our order. Turns out no one had even approached the table in our absence. So I took Quinn back outside. Where he found a spout sticking out of the building and promptly crammed his head into it. (So this is how kids get stuck down wells.) Then he pooped–I believe I may have covered this topic in detail in a previous post.


When we got back inside after the diaper change, the kids’ food was there, as was Alex’s. My food? Well, Alex hadn’t heard me ask him to order my food. And since we weren’t in the server’s section, we were rarely noticed. Quinn finally calmed down and ate Jack’s dinner. Jack ate Quinn’s dinner, and Sam had a little bit of everything. I eventually ordered my dinner to go. I think our waitress was trying, but it took a really long time to get those bowls of ice cream at the end. During this time, Quinn did some yelling about, “Ice cream! Ice cream! Ice cream!” In Quinn’s defense, this is literally the worst he’s ever acted in a restaurant. Usually he’s much more compliant.


Ice cream went well. Sam ate all he wanted then loudly announced that he needed to poop. And I mean loudly.


Now, getting Quinn out of a restaurant when there is still dessert in front of him is tough. And you may belive me when I say that it would take him a good couple of hours to eat a whole bowl. So our strategy is generally to move giant scoops out of his bowl when he’s not looking, and then he thinks he ate all his ice cream and he’ll leave happily. But he seems to be onto us. When Alex moved close to him, he hunched over his food and grabbed onto the bowl. We were finally able to distract him for a millisecond during which I was able to switch his bowl with an empty one. You’d think this kind of activity would be obvious to even a toddler, but it turns out that, nope, Quinn isn’t that observant.


So even though most of the meal was the. worst. dinner. ever., we ended the evening having fun running around outside. At this point, our challenging birthday dinner was so disastrous, that we couldn’t help but laugh.


Again Quinn was not happy to leave, but Alex strapped him down in his stroller and played demolition derby with him, Sam, Jack, and some innocent bystanders on the way to the parking garage, where we were parked on the top floor–level 7–because that’s where Sam likes to park. And for some reason the line of cars at a standstill began at level FIVE. We did get some after-dinner entertainment from the “Let’s Cause a Car Accident Players” and their performance of “If I Freak Out and Gesticulate Wildly, Maybe the Line Will Move Faster,” followed by a second act of “Since My Car is Stopped, I’m Sure I Have Time To Get A Bottle of Water Out of My Trunk–Ooops!” and an encore of “Speeding Around a Stopped Car in Tight Quarters and Near Pedestrians.” Four stars. I laughed, I cried, it was better than CATS.


Then home for cake, presents, and the glorious peace of sleep. Happy 32nd Birthday, Alex!




One thought on “The Birthday Chump

  1. Oh, my heavens, this is funny! Love it! I’m sure it wasn’t as funny at the time, but one day … you will laugh.

    We had the WORST experience at that Macaroni Grill when we took Whydaddy’s parents out to eat with Widget and a 2 week old Little Bear in January. They seated us practically IN the kitchen and (again) forgot to take our order for what seemed like an eternity. That place is SO hit-or-miss.

    You all survived! With humor intact, yet!

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