Before we had kids, Brian and I went out to eat quite a bit . We both worked and had busy schedules and it was just easier for us to meet at a restaurant than it was for us to go home, cook, eat, clean and continue with our busy-ness. We knew that once we had children that would change. Once we had children, we'd all meet up at home at the end of a long day, cook a nutritiously balanced dinner, sit around our table and share with each other our day's events.
It turns out that life is actually busier with kids. Who knew? (Apparently everyone. Everyone knew this.)
Before long, we knew where kids ate free, where kids ate half-price, where kids were welcome and where we were blacklisted from ever eating at again. Our favorite places were new places because they had never seen us before.
One particular new place was a BBQ joint called Cheeks. We checked them out one Saturday night. It was on the same side of town as my own momma's home, so we'd driven by Cheeks on several occasions dropping off the girls for the day.
That night, Daughter 1 ordered bologna--it's the only "meat" she'll consume. Daughter 2, who was three years old at the time, ordered a rib. Brian and I ordered combo meals because we like to sample it all.
The owner stepped out about the same time we got the ticket and asked us how we liked it. Brian fed him his standard line, "It was horrible. I had to eat it all to keep someone else from eating it." Ha. Ha. Ha.
Daughter 2, who has her daddy's gift of gab, said the same thing, "It was horrible. I ate it all."
The owner then asked Daughter 2, "Are you paying tonight?"
Brian and I both said, "Yep." That. That's when it got serious.
"But, Momma," she said very aware that everyone at the table, including the owner was watching her, "I don't have any money."
The owner chuckled and said, "Don't worry about money."
Daughter 2 smiled.
"You can just stay and wash all the dishes tonight."
Daughter 2's smile disappeared.
"Come on back with me and let's get started. Your folks can pick you up in the morning."
Daughter 2's lower lip quivered. Without a second thought, she latched onto my neck and buried her head in hair. She whispered, "Momma, don't leave me here; he's a stranger."
The owner patted her on her back and laughed as he moved on to the next table. She stayed clinged to my torso.
Brian paid our tab, and she didn't unwrap her legs from my waist.
We walked to the minivan, and she didn't raise her head from my shoulders.
Finally, we were able to get her off of my body and strapped into her car seat.
"Thanks for paying, Daddy," she said with a shaky little voice. "You were just teasing, right?"
Her daddy reached back to her seat and patted her knees, "Baby doll," he began, "We're going to take you back after they close so you can wash all the dishes."
The shrieking lasted until we pulled into our driveway approximately twelve minutes later. She slept on my neck that night and every night for three weeks afterwards. We had to take an alternate route to my own momma's every morning for drop off The Daughters so we wouldn't drive by or in the general direction of Cheeks.
Cheeks has since closed, but the shaking continues still.
What's a couple of years of therapy?