Mike was given some gift certificates to a local restaurant from someone at work. So last night we decided to take the troops and go out to eat.
We told the hostess that we are a party of 6 and we'll need 2 highchairs. We had Emma in the wheelchair. She seemed to note that a booth wouldn't work and wandered off for a minute. The restaurant is mostly booths but there are plenty of tables for larger parties that can be separated or put together as needed. So she walks us over to a table for 8 in the front room and says "you all can sit here, but we don't have any highchairs available.
Ok, then we'll have to come back another day. I wasn't about to try to sit down and eat with Micah and Brianna on our laps in addition to needing to help Kristopher cut up food and keep Emma from pushing her wheelchair out into the aisle or chewing on the table. So we said thanks but no thanks and went to the front door to leave.
An older couple had smiled at us as we went to be seated and then heard the discussion and ws watching to see what was happening. Mike had seen someone that he knew and went to say 'hi' quickly so Emma, Brianna, Kristopher, and I waited for him to come back out.
In that time another hostess or waitress- not sure- came out and said they have highchairs in the back and the other person just didn't realize that. She asked if we were going to stay and that would definitely make the difference, so I said yes. Mike eventually showed back up, the original hostess came back a few minutes later and seated us again in the same place except this time with 2 highchairs for the kids.
And the older couple that had smiled at us said "trying again?" as we walked by their table. I just nodded then we got everyone situated and ordered drinks. We were there about an hour and the kids behaved great. Emma ate 2/3 of a cracker in tiny little bites, Kristopher ate half of his "make your own" pan pizza, and Brianna ate a bunch of crackers and some of my calzone. Micah had 2/3 of a bottle (just because everyone else was eating and he felt left out).
As rough as the trip started- it's never a good thing to leave a restaurant and then be told it was a mistake, you can come back- it ended up being pretty good. I love when we can sit and eat and talk and enjoy each other! I also love that other peiple can see the 'differences' in our family and be happy about them.
The older couple that we'd interacted with came over when they finished eating and told us how good the kids were and said 'hi' to each one. They commented how their own kids had been wild LOL. Generally you don't hear that one out of the 70+ crowd (well, I don't anyway) but it was nice of them to make a point of saying hello. Then the person Mike knows came by and reintroduced herself and the kids and commented on how "you make all of this look natural." She has two kids herself that are in their teens and knew about our adoption but hadn't met the kids yet I don't think.
Of course the kids aren't ALWAYS behaved, and when we'd first sat down and Mike asked me what I wanted, at that point I said "take out." I didn't think this was going to go so well. But in the end it ended up being a nice dinner with all the kids. One of the other couples eating next to us said as we were leaving that "you have a beautiful family, and they're all really well behaved." I'm so blessed by our chilldren, when they're good and when they're not so god :) But I also feel privledged to ttake them out to dinner, to sit in the very front and center of a crowded restaurant on a Friday night and to be able to share our "different" family with so many people. Yep, call it prideful... But I really hope that one of those people, or someone the next trip, or someone 10 trips out from now, will be impacted by how "natural" it is to have children with disabilities in a family and when that decision is theirs to make- whether or not to accept that person who sits next to them at school, or bags their groceries at the store, or invites them to go to a movie, or NEEDS them to invite them out to do something social, or maybe their friend's new baby that's just been born or even... their own child, prenatally diagnosed and given that "choice".
Maybe some day our 'natural' family can make that kind of impact.