Good enough for me....
They seated us in a booth on the upper level and we quickly got down to the business of coloring the kids menu, playing tic-tac-toe and doing the maze... The Girl was surprisingly good at the maze!!! I noticed that the people in the booth two seats over had a young Mom, a Grandma, a teenage boy I took to be the girl's brother and the *most* adorable 18 month old boy. Judging by the traffic of Applebee's employee's - the young mother probably worked/works there. Which... was fine by me, as our drinks were refilled super fast as a result..... and I'm *nothing* without my Diet Coke.
Dinner with two kids on your own tends to drag on a bit.... distracted by crayons that break and spilling drinks.... *more* than once! - the upper area around us had cleared out by the time our meal was ending. All the while we were treated to a show of walking, stumbling, standing, falling and walking some more by the little blonde haired 18 month old. Did I mention he was *adorable*?
The Boy also thought he was cute - and would way over to the edge the booth so far this his shoes would kick up over the top of the table - and he would try to tickle the little blonde boy or make silly faces to make him laugh. The Girl - never wanting to be left out - got in on that action fast and started making her trademark goofy face where she rolls her eyes almost completely in to her nose.....
Out of the blue The Boy starts talking, somewhere between cold french fries and hot-fudge ice-cream shooters, he asks me, "Mom.... is there anything I can do to be a better ___________ [insert The Boy's Name Here.].
I should explain.
For almost all their lives we've ended *most* nights of the week talking about our 'favorite' things of the day. Waaaaaay back when I was skinny and could use these flat bags I once called boobs to make an honest buck, I was a waitress at TGI Friday's. They had a WEEK of intense training we had to do and they focused A LOT on actual business philosophy - not just taking an order. Anyway.... one of the things they taught us was that if ONE person leaves your table pissed and unhappy - they will likely tell TEN other people how bad the service/food was, etc. BUT, if ONE person leaves your table happy - loved the food/service - they *might* tell ONE person. That always stuck with me as a sad statement about our society - the early bird - and usually the angry bird - get's the worm and the attention. (oh... yes pot? Yes, I know.... I know - I hear you calling....)
It seems to me like we usually only remember the *bad* things that happen. The ONE time our Grandfather yelled at us for doing something silly .... and we forget all the hundreds of times he snuggled us, brushed our hair, took us for donuts before pre-school... you know - the good stuff. We don't usually remember that unless it comes in form a Mouse called Mickey or some other grand gesture.
So I started this thing where most nights I ask the kids to tell me their favorite part of the day... wait - I feel like I already shared this. oh well... it's late - lolol.... anyway - the idea being to re-inforce the good in our every day lives so that when the "bad" happens, it's not the only thing we hold on to.
After The Big D, I started asking - every few times - if there was something El Capitan or I could do to make things better/easier, etc.
So when The Boy asked me out of the blue what *he* could do to be better.... I was stunned. I told him that he was perfect in every way. I told him he was all the best parts of me and the best parts of his Dad and that he is perfect and there is no way to improve on perfect.......I told him he was the best brother I had ever seen, that I was grateful that The Girl had such a wonderful brother and that I would always be proud of him.
Of course, I had also failed to realize that Applebee's had grown a bit quiet and that our conversation wasn't all the private at that point.... lol.
A few mintues later some song came on and The Boy rolled out of the booth to dance around in the aisle - and The Girl quickly followed him. She can shake her tail feather.... let me tell you! She does this little thing where she turns her back to you and puts her little chubby hands on her hips and then wags her butt side to side .... it's so damn cute. The people at the booth at the end of our row started clapping for her and egging them both on... so The Girl proceeded to bend over, touch the ground and continue to wag her cute butt side to side - which brought cheers from all the wait staff who were now gathered to watch the show.
The Boy, while most kids would kick their own dance moves into Carlton-high gear in an effort not to lose attention, stood back clapping for his sister and when The Girl was done and her little, beat red face popped back up - he grabbed her in his arms, gave her a big kiss on the head and announced, "Yup! That's my sister.... she's on the bus to Goofy Town tonight!"
Which... only brought more cheers. One of the waiters joked that she could get a job there and I said... "well, that's how she has to pay for co
I sat in the booth thinking about how amazing it is that G*d trusted me with these perfect beings... if you *really* knew me and my potty mouth you'd be surprised at this fact too, lol. But, sometimesI feel like I'm just kind of 'babysitting' them... like - they rolled out perfect and amazing as they were and I just try not to screw them up.
They climbed back in the booth - Ke$ha and her Kanye (oh, The Boy LOVES rap....) - and we paid and headed to the end of the aisle to go. (Thankfully Tuesday is $.99 cent kids night at Applebee's!) - and as I got to the end where the family with the adorable 18 month old boy was sitting the Grandma stopped me.
She asked me if I was doing "this alone" and she nodded to the kids. I replied... "well, I am now.... lolol"
She told me that not long after the teenage boy was born their father left and that she had raised her kids alone too. I told her that mine left with the help of a 22 year old Girl.... and was indeed - gone.
Before the Grandma answered me, the Young Mother spoke up and asked how long ago it happened. I told her and she said..... "You're doing great. I wasn't much older than your son when my Dad left us- and I wasn't happy enough to dance in an aisle at that stage..... he's so happy and he clearly loves his sister.... they are lucky to have you....."
I was taken aback - not in a bad way.... but I think I must have a very open vibe or something.. right? lolol. But I would both flattered and touched than a stranger would take the time to share such a kind observation - really - that takes balls these days.
The Grandma asked me if I would take him back.... I replied no, too many things have happened, too many things have been broken though - I wish I could for the kids sake - I don't think I could for my sake....
The Grandma told me that THAT was the one thing she did wrong: Take him back.
Then Young Mother told me that that was the hardest part - the back and forth - and that in the end.... her Mom was always trying to "cover" for the Dad - but as she got older and into her teen years, that covering things up just made it harder to understand and accept who her Dad was and how he was acting.
She told me, "Don't ever lie to your kids. If he calls, let them talk to him. Be happy that he called and be happy with them. But if he doesn't call, doesn't come over, doesn't buy them presents at holiday's... whatever - don't lie to them to 'make it better' - that will only make it worse. Tell them what you told him tonight - that they are perfect inspite of who their parents are and that they are loved and leave it at that."
HAND TO G*D. Isn't my life a *little* crazy... lololol - who else has conversations like this in freakin' Applebees!?!?!? Though - my friend thinks that they probabably recognized me....
Either way - it's AWESOME that someone would share their own experience like that with me... just awesome.
So.... El Capitan saw the kids over the weekend - and he bought a Fresh Beat Band CD for them to listen to in the car - which... is like LIQUID GOLD in our house right now. The kids are *all about* Fresh Beat Band - and The Girls has been talking about it for days.... how Daddy bought the Fresh Beat Band CD and I - in turn - have been equally excited... because, that's their Dad - the good, the bad, the 22 year old ugly - and the trying to be good..... I'm not saying I'm only going to focus on the good and ignore the bad - but if a few Fresh Beat songs help wash away the immediate pain... then let the band play on......
I think more and more my job as their Mom becomes LESS about 'making it better' - in that I can't change what El Capitan did.... but the job because not only helping them find the tools to HEAL from it - but the tools to DEAL with it - and also - the ability to the joy they will need to MOVE ON in their lives..... I worry that this once event in their life will be that ONE person who hates the service/food and leaves a stain on their otherwise happy lives.... I have to focus on reminding them about the mundane good of every day and the POWER they ahve to ENJOY that good - both in the day .... and in their parents.
AT least.... that's how I'm letting this five minutes pass.