If you were at Culver’s around 6:15 on Sunday, I probably waved at you. You may have been at the table of retired folks, who glanced over.
Or you were the young couple, horrified.
Or the group of women in their 50s who looked knowingly and kindly at us.
Or the man with four kids on his own, who was laughing as he, smartly, led his brood to an outside table.
I waved at them all. And tried to laugh. Did laugh. Because what else can you do when your kids stop eating their frozen custard and instead start flinging it around, and you snatch it away and all hell breaks loose?
Jack, 3, and Viv, 1, unleashed howls so loud that I am sure the folks in the drive-through heard it. It was kind of horrifying. And hilarious. We were at dinner — after a full day at the pool and park — with some friends and their two girls, who, at this point, were behaving.
But my turkeys. Oh dear. Poor Viv was making such a mess with her custard (she insists on feeding herself) that we took the little cup away when she wasn’t looking. Oh the drama. When she went to dip her spoon and saw there was nothing there, my god. The full open-mouth, silent scream. Over custard (Oh, baby, I get it, mama loves some ice cream). And then the full out-loud yell.
Then Jack started waving his custard-y spoon around, flinging flecks of it all over, so after 200 warnings and threatening him with everything from never taking him to the library again ever for his entire life to making him go straight to bed tonight with no books (yes, that is my nerd herd, as my friend calls it), I finally took the custard away.
It happened about the same time Viv lost hers.
And it was deafening.
But I love our friends Mark and Erica, who just laughed hysterically with us while we tried to comfort our kids (shut them up, jesus christ). They’ve been there. I’ve been with them when their own kids were haywire. They get it. And so did most people in the restaurant, and Philip and I did our best to get our kids quieted down in about 5 minutes.
But they were some loud 5 minutes. And when Jack was quietly sniffling on my lap, and Viv was sitting with Philip, I looked up at the restaurant and felt like an actress bowing on stage after a performance. I just waved to the people who kept making eye contact with me.
What else can you do? We’re doing our best. Kids are unpredictable. Custard is delicious. Places are public.
Then we hustled them all outside and waited for the applause from inside as we left.
Parenting is easier when you can laugh at your life. And it’s funnier when your friends are laughing, too. About two years ago, Erica and I were trying to get the kids out of a restaurant, me hugely pregnant, and the kids were climbing on the tables and just being insane. And we were cracking up as we tried to corral them. We looked over, and there was a table of older women next to us, and they were laughing so hard at us. It made it all so much easier. And it just makes you relax. It’s not like any parents wants their kid to be a turd, it just happens.
And always in public.