I am an optimist by nature. Sometimes, when the unpredictability of parenting gets me caught in a stressed-out minute, I forget how much easier life is when I practice being flexible. My husband got an unexpected job offer in NYC that we couldn’t refuse. He is there for 6 weeks and then coming home for a week. This is going to be our life for the next year or two, and though it is proving to be incredibly challenging at times, I AM learning how to adapt. I’m given little reminders, like our lunch at Kona Grill today, that I need to focus on the positive and go-with-the-flow whenever possible. I’m laughing at the irony as I sit down to write this article, a deadline swiftly approaching, and two kids nap schedules to juggle. I remember to take a deep breath and know that when we make plans, our children laugh, and that joining their laughter is always the best plan.
This was not our first visit to Kona, in fact we go there regularly, and for great reasons: the menu full of amazing choices, the outdoor seating area with a cool fountain to touch, “Happy Hour” is a LOT longer than an hour and has a variety of fancy sushi rolls, appetizers, and delicious cocktails for around $5, there’s a giant fish tank with friendly pufferfish, a blue tang, (“Dory fish!!”, my 3 year old loudly announces) and a few other species, that’s next to the booth that always ends up available for us, and the fantastic options on the kids menu for an incredible deal. The meals come served in bento boxes with an adorable teddy bear face carved in an orange which delights my kids every time. If you buy a $7.00 t-shirt, and have your kid wear it on future visits, their $6.50 meal is free every time. Forever. Until they outgrow the shirt. Score.
So, at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon, because in my family, eating at weird, in-between-nap times, is always the best bet, off we went for lunch. We got the lucky booth and Quinn immediately told me about all of the tank’s inhabitants. Anthony came over with menus and I was already ready to order. With toddlers intermittently chiming in, we ordered the California Roll kids meal with french fries and mac & Cheese for the kids to share, (following our: “try something new, try something we know you like” policy) and for me, the Oriental Salad with Grilled Salmon, one of my go-tos.
The kid’s sippy cups of milk and my water came out and about 10 minutes later, our food arrived. Well, their food arrived. My salad arrived. My salmon did not. The waiter realized the error when I brought it to his attention and said he would go take care of it right away.
So, the kids started eating their food. Dori tried a couple of California Rolls before presenting them to me as a half-eaten gift, so I ate most of them. Quinn said she wanted to taste one and then it sat on her plate while she ate french fries and most of the orange. The mac & cheese was steaming hot so I told her to wait a while. Ha! Patience is NOT a 3 year old’s strongest suit as I’m sure all of you know, so we ended up doing a lot of blowing on bites. (Side-note: Why don’t restaurants make it a point to let a meal that is being served to tiny humans cool slightly before putting it in reach?)
We got an unsolicited compliment on the girl’s behavior and willingness to try different foods from the person sitting at the table next to us and I told them how proud that made me feel.
And they finished everything on the plate.
And announced, “I’m donnnne” in the way that makes every parent start doing the how-long-until-meltdown-disaster” countdown.
And then we waited.
And watched the fish.
And played with the napkins.
And we played with the t-shirt.
And we laughed pretending to talk and dance like the fish in the tank.
And we laughed at Dori who was trying to put the t-shirt on and cracking up about it.
And we laughed because Quinn asked where her milk went and then realized she was holding it.
And we went to the bathroom (which, by the way, is a huge, family bathroom. Large enough for a double stroller and has a shorter-than-average toilet) and came back.
And we waited.
And we waited some more.
And I remembered that they have those twisty, wax stick things to play with, and that they forget to give them to us every single time.
And when Anthony finally came out with my dinner the kids were so far past their small window of opportunity that with apologies, I asked Anthony to please wrap it up to go instead.
And my first reaction was aggravation. But then I took a deep breath and remembered that I have a babysitter coming tonight! There is a bright side! Enjoying this meal without simultaneously trying to make sure that my daughters eat more of their food than they throw on the floor, is actually going to be a gift. I can eat this beautiful dinner, picnic style, lakeside, in silence and solitude!
And that is what I did.
And it was glorious.