Today, I had to take Gray to the dentist. Afterwards, I really wanted to have lunch in my favorite barbecue restaurant that is near the clinic. I wrestled with the decision. Normally, I would just hit a drive-through and let Gray eat safely buckled in his car seat. The safe choice that would still allow us to practice our new dining out skills would have been to just go inside the fast food restaurant. That way, I wouldn’t care so much if he acted crazy. “But, no,” I told myself, “I want to go for barbecue and we should do that.”
Even as I pulled into the near-empty parking lot (it was still early), I felt some concern about the wisdom of this decision. When we walked inside and got in line, I ordered our food to-go…just in case we needed to make a quick tantrum-fueled exit. While I got my money out to pay, Gray tried to grab at someone else’s to-go box and he pinched the cashier. I began my usual flustered apologies, but both people quickly smiled and said I should not worry. As I had wished, Hope’s presence explained it all for me. A kid tethered to a dog in a barbecue restaurant is automatically given some slack and a mother of a kid tethered to a dog is given some sympathy.
By the time we got our food and settled into a booth, the line was starting to get long. As Gray calmly ate his ham and french fries, I kept glancing around at the other customer who were filling the tables around us. No one looked at us. We were just a mom and son having lunch together. Unbelievable. Lunch went so well that we finished our whole meal without needing to exercise the to-go box option. It felt amazing to sit there for 45 minutes and just have lunch together.
After we finished and got up to go, I saw many diners surprised when a dog exited from beneath our table. No one knew we were different. Of course, on the way out, Gray swiped a french fry off of someone’s plate. Laughter all around. No animosity. I didn’t even feel embarrassed.
As we got into our car, I kept telling Gray what a good boy he was. I thanked him for being a good lunch date. He looked proud. Score for Team Golden!