March 27th 2012 archive

Grace is in the Small Things

The other day, John and I packed up the kids for a raucous Sunday morning at Chuck E Cheez and a nice quiet lunch at an Italian restaurant. We were feeling brave and had an extra dose of parenting confidence that day.

This is rare so we decided to seize it.

Which is good, because most of the weekend we were hermits. After going through the requisite number of coins at Chuck E Cheeze, we decided it was time to move on to the fine dining portion of the day. So we went to one of those “fancy” restaurants, where they put out those big sheets of white paper on your table and the waiter or waitress comes over and writes their name for you, in case you are like me and too slow to catch it as our youngest tries to eat one of the crayons.

“NEVETS” – the waiter wrote neatly for himself.

“Mommy, Steven is so nice,” Shaila said as she dipped her bread into the specially made olive oil “dippy” which she and her brother ate with aplomb.

“And talented. He can write his name upside down,” I pointed out.

She appropriately ooohed and aahed at this, now understanding the complexity of writing letters – I think she had a better appreciation for what must go into writing your name upside down with a cracked crayon while trying to handle the long pepper grinder in the other hand.

These kinds of talents are often overlooked. But we caught it Steven. Go, you.

Lunch was going great. Everyone was having some of the bread. Our food came fast and was highly fattening and delicious. There had been minimal fighting over crayons. Nico had only tried to jump over the table once and the kids did not try to sneak any of the cutlery into their pants.

And then it started.

“Mommy, I have to use the potty,” Shaila tugged at my shirt.

Ugghhhh, I thought. You see, my 4 1/2 year old has an uncanny fascination with bathrooms. She often will avoid going to the bathroom at home so she can have the scintillating experience of sitting on someone else’s can if she knows we are going out.

In restaurants, this will often mean getting up two or three times before she is fully satisfied that she has a) either marked her territory appropriately or b) has gotten to use all of the separate bathroom stalls, including the Handicapped one.

“Mommy, look, they have a big changing table!!!” she will yell, scaring the person in the stall next to her. I try to listen for the tell tale dribble of her actually peeing. But I hear no such thing.

“I really like these tiles, Mom. Have you seen them?”

Yes, Shaila. About three separate times now.

So on that Sunday, as I was enjoying my eggplant parmesan, Shaila suddenly crumpled her napkin and announced in her loudest outside voice possible, “Oh no! Mommy, let’s go. I really, REALLY need to go poop.”


As other families turned to stare at us and my daughter, I made a brave face at parenting. “Shaila, honey, we don’t use potty talk – especially not at the table. Let me know you need to go to the potty in your “inside voice,” and we will make sure you are fine.”

I am pretty sure she did some eye rolling as I turned to scoot out of the booth and take her to the restroom. (She rated it a 7 out of 10, by the way. She is not easily impressed, though she does enjoy the hole that you throw the garbage into being carved into the granite counters. That’s a “must have” for any decent bathroom in her mind).

“Mommy. Ok. FINE. I won’t talk potty talk.” Did I mention she still was NOT using her inside voice? It was definitely an outside voice. Quite outdoorsy, in fact. Almost like she was climbing Kilimanjaro and was yelling down towards base camp.

With all the little patience she could muster, she calmly explained to me as she scooted out of the booth behind me. “Mommy, I really, REALLY need to go to the bathroom so I go can make those round and oval shaped things.”

She turned to me and grabbed my hand and said proudly, “See, Mommy? I never talk potty.”

Have I mentioned how much I love my daughter?