DEFCON Dining: I Before E, Except After Toting an Extra (Excited) Kid Around All Afternoon
Dining out with children is an exercise in situational awareness. Each experience is unique, with different variables leading to different possible outcomes, DEFCON-like in their escalating threat levels. Keen observation, forward planning and prior experience are critical in determining the proper strategy. Here at DEFCON Dining, we do the grunt work for you. It ain't always pretty.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall It ain't easy bein' cheesy.
I'm a big believer in the notion that dessert follows dinner. Call me a wet blanket (my kids do), but it just seems like an invitation for trouble. It was, then, a significant concession when I took not only my girls but also a tagalong friend to Cloud 10 Creamery on a recent weeknight.
We'd been asked to pick her up from school as a favor to her mom, and proceeded to drive her around to various after-school activities with us. By the time swim class was over, the girls all annoyed at the fact that they'd been so tantalizingly close, yet so frustratingly unable to actually play together, we all decided that ice cream before dinner was the best of all possible ideas.
On a gambling whim, I suggested Cloud 10, dodging the "will there only be weird flavors" question with a quick perusal of their online menu. The minute I said "marshmallow and Nutella," we were on our way. The gamble paid off in the form of the Dulce de Leche/Chamomile ice cream my wife ordered, a delicious and surprisingly subdued blend perfect for my less-than-sweet tooth.
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall Dulce de Leche Chamomile. I need more of this.
The kids, being kids, all insisted on getting the exact same thing, pairing the aforementioned Nutella with a scoop of chocolate, on a waffle cone. As they chatted and ate, comparing ice-cream goatees and using up practically every napkin in the place, I decided that, just maybe, ice cream before dinner wasn't the worst idea. Then we got back in the car.
Filling kids with ice cream and cramming them in the backseat of a mid-size sedan is a lot like dropping Mentos in a two-liter bottle of Coke and screwing the lid back on. No sooner had the doors closed than I began to regret my decision. Excited and energized (SUGARRRRRR!!!!!), the kids were conversing in a combination of high-pitched whirring sounds for a few minutes before the car erupted in uncontrollable giggling. I don't know how much time you've spent around ten-and-under girls, but this is usually a bad sign.