Our 12- year-old son, Eric, didn’t want to go out for breakfast, but he wanted to be left home alone even less, so he put on his Dr. Dre headphones and sweatpants. He was fine staying home alone when we lived in New York City. But here in Austin, you’d think he lived in the middle of the Amazon. He doesn’t want to stay home because they are gonna get him. Who? The cowboys?
Anyway, we get out of the car. Eric is listening to his audiobook. Emma is having a tantrum because she still wasn’t ready to leave. Phinny, the dog, is perched in my pouch and we have to wait half an hour for a table. We’re just trying not to disturb too many people and to prevent a calamity before we get to eat our gluten free pancakes. Luckily, there are other families with young kids and dogs in the patio area, so they’ll understand.
Emma had calmed down at that point, but she started up again because she wasn’t ready to move to the table. There’s a table of millennials next us. No kids. A guy at the table turns to look at us a few times. It’s not a look that says, how sweet. It’s a look that says, you’re ruining my mimosas. I won’t say what I was thinking, but you can imagine.
The food comes. Emma wants to pour an entire bottle of maple syrup onto her pancakes. Tantrum. Phinny smells bacon. His priorities shift. Eric is anxious about school the next day. Deb and I don’t have the time or space to string more than two sentences together.
Pay the bill.
Time to go.
Emma’s not ready.
I make eye contact with the millennial whose mimosa drinking was interrupted and I nod at him and grin.
Parenting and relationships are not formulas to be figured out. They’re dynamic creations that are often unpredictable and that challenge us to the core. We can learn from our experiences and mistakes, but there will always be more new experiences and mistakes down the road.
I remember being like the guy at the brunch place with the 3-hour breakfast and the New York Times cover to cover. Life was a lot simpler then. There are certainly things I miss about it too. But I wouldn’t trade this hot mess for anything.