the smell of my desperation has become a stench

March madness

Sunday morning we resumed a ritual we practiced with Leta but gave up once Marlo came along. Because Marlo ruins everything. See how I just came right out and said that? Believe me, when she reads that fifteen years from now I guarantee you her feelings will not be hurt, and instead she will throw her fist in the air with a, “Shit yeah, I do!”

For years we used to get an early Sunday breakfast at the Blue Plate Diner, always beating the rush of the brunch crowd because Leta has always been an early riser. Always. Just last week she complained that making her stay in bed until 7 AM is unfair because lying there awake in the dark is so boring. I asked if that was her closing argument, and when she looked at me confused I said, “MOTION DENIED.”

The logistics of taking two kids out to eat is not one we’re necessarily eager to master. Yeah, I know, families with ten kids go out to eat all the time, and they TOTALLY WIN. We’ve just looked at it like this: why try to wrangle a homicidal toddler and a picky eater in public when we can just wallow in the misery of it in our pajamas?

Easy way out every time.

But we’ve missed those Sunday breakfasts, mainly because of the food: homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy for me, French toast for Jon, pancakes for Leta, and a huge side of bacon for the whole table. Also, as much as we want to avoid it, we have to start teaching Marlo how to behave in public. I did not know that this would involve telling her that it’s not okay to take food off of someone’s plate AT THE TABLE NEXT TO OURS.

It wasn’t a total nightmare, just a partial one. I mean, she didn’t bite anyone, and every two minutes or so I kept repeating WE ARE DOING THIS, WE ARE DOING THIS out loud to reassure myself and Jon that we could handle it, that we had actually ordered food and it was coming to our table. But Marlo had had enough behaving about fifteen minutes in when she commenced shrieking, and before the food arrived we had to tag team it. Meaning we took turns walking Marlo back and forth outside the restaurant so that she couldn’t hurt anyone.

Meanwhile, Leta’s pancake arrived, and because she’s a kid they thought it would be cute to make it look like a face. They created ears out of whipped cream, eyes out of grapes, and (can you hear me gasping? that was me) a smile made out of sliced banana.

For those of you unfamiliar with Leta’s aversion to bananas, let me put it this way: she saw that banana smile, screamed, and hid underneath the booth with her arms covering her head AS IF TO PROTECT IT FROM THE BANANA.

If I ever need to get another job to supplement this blogging gig, I could totally be a professional banana slice slinger. I had those things off of her plate so fast that it reversed time and she forgot they were ever there in the first place. So, yeah. Advice to potential mothers: your duties may one day involve slinging a banana slice. Practice.

Also: this happened. Yeah.

  • mommyoffour

    2011/03/08 at 11:51 am

    Mmmmmmm, wax poop for you!

  • Tontina

    2011/03/08 at 11:55 am

    God, I love you Heather!!

  • The Dalai Mama

    2011/03/08 at 11:56 am

    I love the whole “food from someone else’s plate.” My now 3-year-old (for whom my now 5-year-old did nothing to help us prepare) will walk up to you and ask what you are eating and ask to try it. At disney land, the grocery store, local lunch place. She will also ask strangers for money if I tell her no.

    She and Marlo can take on the world together. It’s so totally fun…

  • tokenblogger

    2011/03/08 at 11:56 am

    If I ever make a visit to SLC it will have to be in the winter so that I can enjoy marvelous snow after snow after snow.

    And I’ll try not to think of how you may be in peril because of effing snow after snow after snow…

  • Mer

    2011/03/08 at 11:59 am

    At least it’s non-toxic. I would have preferred my coffee to be cornflower-flavor, myself.

    ETA: Omahgarsh!!! I think this is my favorite masthead EVER.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2011/03/08 at 12:03 pm

    I used to dread taking our two little ones out to eat. It felt like I was participating in a game show during which two atomic bombs disguised as children had to constantly be tended to in order to keep them from detonating and taking out the whole damn restaurant. Which is to say: There was nothing relaxing or enjoyable about going out to eat.

    And oy vey with the “taking turns” thing. My wife and I would see each other only on the car ride to and from the establishment.

    Our kids are almost-6 and almost-8 now, and they mostly behave perfectly when we go out to eat. It was well worth the effort of training them … and we did it without ever threatening them with a lie about a restaurant employee whose sole purpose was to take ill-behaved children and shove them in a trash barrel … which is what my parents would tell my siblings and I. Yes, really. So that sort of explains the therapy and the meds.

  • Tricia

    2011/03/08 at 12:04 pm

    Mmmmmm, Blue Plate Diner. Ruth’s Diner is also a great place for an early breakfast– very family friendly.

    Yay, Marlo for giving mommy a yellow submarine!

  • misszoot

    2011/03/08 at 12:06 pm

    I never comment b/c you get so many. BUT – we just recently had our first successful outing where we left and did not immediately stop for beer on the way home. My youngest will be 3 in May. I’m not trying to discourage you with a timeline of how long it will take before you can enjoy a peaceful outing, I am just showing you it does end…EVENTUALLY.

    My husband and I were scared to discuss how well it was going WHILE we were there because we were afraid we’d jinx it. But when we left we were all, “HOLY CRAP. IT WORKED. PEACEFUL DINNER! WITH THE KIDS! WOO HOO!”

  • CO

    2011/03/08 at 12:09 pm

    I love the crayon in the coffee! Never a dull moment hey?

  • tiffanyincali

    2011/03/08 at 12:12 pm

    Ha! I used to always say that my daughter could turn even the nicest restaurant into Denny’s in 5 seconds flat! Now she’s almost 14- is a pro at always ordering something that is NOT ON THE MENU! Usually pasta with butter and cheese… even at Mexican places.
    Good luck!

  • Sharon Heg

    2011/03/08 at 12:24 pm

    Longtime lurker, first time poster. OMG, I don’t blame the poor girl…bananas on pancakes, BLECH!!!

    My Last Blog Entry: “Flash Mob Much? (Part 2)”

  • Amber_D

    2011/03/08 at 12:29 pm

    I burst out laughing at the crayon in the coffee causing everyone in the previously silent office to turn and stare.

    I think they may be on to the fact that my work is not that amusing.

    Thanks for the laugh.

  • kwm

    2011/03/08 at 12:32 pm

    Awesome, I was the same way about taking kids out to eat versus staying home comfy! So fun to read your blogs.

  • soojeegirl

    2011/03/08 at 12:45 pm

    Sounds like a pending piece of art with the next B.M.

  • Unnatural Mother -Deanna

    2011/03/08 at 1:11 pm

    Nice. We’ve had plenty of nightmare dining experiences, oh yes we have. I empathize, I do, I do!

  • beannie

    2011/03/08 at 1:20 pm

    I find crayons add a little something “extra” to coffee. Aren’t kids so kind?

  • specialkrispy

    2011/03/08 at 1:40 pm

    My dad takes me and my 7-month-old to breakfast every Sunday also. We always try to beat the crowds, too, but the baby is always the last one up. I feel your pain. We have driven past Blue Plate a few times, but it is always overflowing.

    P.S. Have you tried the biscuits and gravy at Ruth’s in Emigration canyon? Oh.Em.Gee.

  • amadajo

    2011/03/08 at 2:11 pm

    Our kid refused to go out to eat until we figured out to sit in a booth with no booster seat and let her stand up the entire time. We also take a big bag o’ toys with everything from crayons to playdoh. We call her the red menace.

  • Tangerine

    2011/03/08 at 2:30 pm

    I have to say, I am fully grown and a basically fully recovered picky eater, but I still react that way to bananas. They are the only food that does that to me, and they always have. When I was a baby eating mushed fruit for a living, I would always reject bananas violently. So other picky eating aside, I fully support Leta in this aversion.

  • specialkrispy

    2011/03/08 at 2:53 pm

    I never knew there were so many banana haters in this world.

  • ckat22

    2011/03/08 at 2:56 pm

    dear lord … thank you, heather. i NEEDED that chuckle so very, very much. i can totally picture the entire morning. i was worried i would never love your second child as much as i adore leta … i didn’t have to worry. i love marlo in a completely different – and completely equal – way!!

  • Rebellin

    2011/03/08 at 2:57 pm

    I am in the same place as you… The past two weekends, we’ve taken our two (similar ages) out to sushi restaurants. On the first outing, our daughter had a coughing fit so bad I had to take her outside, and right as I returned, our baby poked himself in the mouth with a chopstick, lauching a fit. At the second outing, my baby was poking another woman in the rear with chopsticks while my daughter talked loud enough for the whole restaurant to hear. I was starting to feel like we weren’t effective in teaching manners, but you’ve made me feel like perhaps it’s more the kids’ fault, and us parents are the victims.

  • SugarFreeSweetie

    2011/03/08 at 3:12 pm

    Oh My! I remember our first trip to the IHOP with our oldest son. My husband went into a complete fit when our son cried becaues he CUT HIS PANCAKE! I just sat there and said, “we are staying here and we are going to eat this meal”. So yeah, I’ve been there. You know what’s worse than taking kids out to eat? Making kids sit quietly through three hours of church!

  • janeingrid

    2011/03/08 at 3:22 pm

    Love it!

  • ClarissaD

    2011/03/08 at 3:38 pm

    This is HILARIOUS! You are such a talented writer – I will be a regular reader 🙂

  • kickyboots

    2011/03/08 at 3:48 pm

    Oh, I loved this! We have three girls are the older two were NUTS. We’d consider it a success if they lasted 11 minutes at a buffet before we had to leave. They’re getting slightly better with age (now they’re 4.5 and 2.5) but we rarely bother eating out with them. Why pay good money just to feel anxious and frustrated and to have to eat in shifts while your spouse runs laps chasing the rabid badgers?

  • burkeabee

    2011/03/08 at 3:54 pm

    I drove with my 4 kids from MA to NM this past summer.Lots of restaurant practice. I prefer busy restaurants……that way the shrieking is camouflaged.

  • kittyvicious

    2011/03/08 at 3:56 pm

    Bwahahahahahaha… the crayon! I die.

  • mommica

    2011/03/08 at 4:05 pm

    Yeah, baby number two is due in 12 weeks and I’m pretty sure I won’t be eating out for, oh, about four years. Taking one kid to a restaurant is bad enough. I’ll be at home if you need me.

  • luv and kiwi

    2011/03/08 at 4:30 pm

    ha! that crayon made me want to throw up in my mouth a little bit. noted!

  • deannamil

    2011/03/08 at 4:50 pm

    Well let’s see at 6 and 8 we still grab the children and run as fast as we can from restaurants before they ask us to leave.

  • sybil

    2011/03/08 at 5:24 pm

    Please enlighten me. I don’t get it. Why do parents bring little ones out to eat when they’re miserable. The servers are miserable (unless you leave a big tip to make up for the little beasties). Your kids are miserable. And you make other diners miserable. I would love a little “Marlo” to come steal food from my plate. Just hate the sticky hands in my hair over the booth and the shrieking. Oy. Please tell me why parents do this to themselves and other diners.

  • bellamaxjoy

    2011/03/08 at 5:49 pm

    I wonder if boys are just easier. I know they are not quite the emotional thinkers girls are, and also “easily entertained” (my husband can still waner off in a store and get totally engrossed in something “cool”) As long as I had an aresonal of matchbox cars, dinosaurs, transformers, they were resonably easy to get distracted. Girls are just so darned EMOTIONAL, I have learned from my BF’s daughter!
    Love the blog, and am having a great time reading thru it from the beginning. I want to recomend it to a new mother friend of mine. I am a Christian, hope that isnt grounds for dismisal!, and although she may not dig the more “flowery” language, she is going thru a rough time with her 5 month old. I want to find the point where Leta came in and have her ready it, so she doesnt feel alone.
    thnks again!

  • pink.marleen

    2011/03/08 at 6:24 pm

    OMG, that just made me laugh out loud. My son just turned 2 and also is not too interested in just sitting down in a restaurant. But I love the fact that Marlo slipped a crayon in your coffee, that kid is ballsy! And whoever told the cook to put a face on the pancake anyway…

  • mom2meerkat

    2011/03/08 at 6:33 pm

    Funny… my eight month old daughter HATES HATES HATES bananas. It’s the only food that she spits out, cries about, and generally shuns.

  • julie4920

    2011/03/08 at 6:49 pm

    haha! Right after reading this post, I saw this:

    Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas. Hilarious if you haven’t already seen it!

    Laughed thinking of Marlo eating off someone else’s plate. 🙂

  • ponyk

    2011/03/08 at 6:59 pm

    Fact: RIPE bananas smell exactly like the scent released by ANGRY bees.

    I learned this bizarre fact while taking “Bees and Beekeeping 101” in college.

    I was delighted to learn that there is a decent reason for me to not like ripe bananas. (Gag!) Greenish bananas I quite enjoy.

    Happy bees, on the other hand, release a scent that smells like lemon-scented Joy and/or lemon hard candy.

  • Indiana Lori

    2011/03/08 at 7:25 pm

    I have the 2 most high maintenance daughters on the planet, so I have 2 words for you: restaurant bag. It just stays in the car, full of bendaroos and little wooden bears that you decorate with wood clothes…even glow sticks. The girls can only play with it when we are IN a restaurant and waiting for food. It was a game changer for us.

  • Indiana Lori

    2011/03/08 at 7:27 pm

    Oh yes, and when Sara’s pancake came out of the kitchen not immediately soaked in 5 lbs of syrup? She tossed it onto the table next to us. There is just no way to apologize for a toddler flinging perfectly good pancakes. My sympathies to you!

  • austinscott

    2011/03/08 at 7:38 pm

    Oh great. So my attempt at blogging is going to scare the crap out of Leta. is doomed.

  • Petit Elefant

    2011/03/08 at 7:47 pm

    My son, you know the one, was called “unfit for public consumption” until about, oh. Last year. He was in a sling, stroller, or backpack until he was 4.

    You can do it! It just might take 6 years. Or so.

  • gavintiegirl

    2011/03/08 at 9:43 pm

    Going out to eat is overrated ESPECIALLY with little ones.
    Don’t convince yourself it will be plesant because it won’t be EVER
    Even if you bring bags of toys and oodles of entertainment. Staying home is always
    More satisfying and enjoyable. This I know after years of trying it and realizing that it
    Sucks!!! And will always suck!!!

  • Kendell

    2011/03/09 at 7:08 am

    I forsee this class in Leta’s future

  • Laura Jones

    2011/03/09 at 7:52 am

    At restaurant Friend’s kid needs to go to the bathroom and naive childless me offers to take him. He has soiled his Scooby Doo underpants so I shove them in the small metal box that hangs in each stall. He is now clean but commando and comes out screaming about his favorite underwear being left behind. Friend is in the floor laughing.

  • CrisLawson

    2011/03/09 at 9:48 am

    If I take one of my children somewhere, they are good as gold…I assume because my single minded attention keeps them in line.

    But if I bring all three…remember how the velociraptors in Jurassic Park work as a team? One distracts the prey as the other two work an ambush. It’s exactly the same with kids.

  • apostate

    2011/03/09 at 10:13 am

    With any luck, in three more months the weather will be nice for patio dining at the Blue Plate.
    Every March in Utard, I make the mistake of allowing myself to think: Maybe this year will be different. I allowed myself to think such a thought last Saturday only to drop F bombs during the snow storm Monday night.
    I feel that the Blue Plate is meant to be enjoyed outside with a City Weekly.
    Home Fries!

  • Cooky

    2011/03/09 at 12:02 pm

    Blue Plate Diner is totally worth the public humilation with Marlo in tow. I love you guys and your girls. Your posts always make my day. Enjoy these moments. You’ll be glad you have your adventures written down. The girls will be leaving for college before you know it.

  • Ado

    2011/03/09 at 12:13 pm

    I’m going to add Banana Slinger to my resume – thanks for that, I had no idea this skill would be so marketable. (-:

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/03/09 at 1:08 pm

    it’s been a long time since i was at blue plate. i like to hide under the booth when i see the home fries coming. because, how hard is it to make good breakfast potatoes? here’s hoping they’ve improved. i’ll check it out soon.

    mmmm … extra yellow bonus java boost shit yeah.

  • snownurse

    2011/03/09 at 5:33 pm

    HA! We were there last Sunday morning. So sorry we missed the show. Don’t worry, it will get better. Our baby is now 6. We can take him *almost* anywhere now! 🙂

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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