Last night, Jon and I attempted to take advantage of our gym’s Parents Night Out offering for the first time. It’s a great deal – you hand over $15 per child and they let your kids run wild in the gymnasium while you sneak out to eat a peaceful dinner. Cheaper than most babysitters!
And to sell it to the kids, they try to organize fun things. Rock climbing, movies, sugar-highs, etc.
So, we fed the kids early, changed out of our sweatpants, and hustled over to the gym. Walking in to the kid area, we encountered our first fumble.
We were met with a list. Actually, not just any list, THE list. The list of folks who had already signed up for this thing weeks ago. Neither one of us knew that you needed to pre-register, as the gym’s website gave us zero information. Luckily for us, it was a slow night with plenty of room to spare, so they allowed us to drop off our children. Just this one time.
The kids started taking their coats off, all the while staring at the mayhem of kids running around and sliding on dollies, drooling at the thought of an hour or more of uncontrolled chaos.
And then the guy asked us “Did you bring their swimsuits? ‘Cuz we’re gonna go swimmin’ in about 30 minutes.”
Well, crap. No. No we did not.
The kids looked up at us with a look that can only be described as pure betrayal. How dare we not know there was swimming involved! How come we don’t have our shit together? Have you no compassion, woman?
Then the whining began. Our options were to run home, bring back swimsuits, and the try to wolf down food before needing to pick up the kids, spending more time in the car than at a restaurant. Or, bag the whole evening.
So, we scratched the kids’ name off the list and left the gym.
Jon and I hadn’t eaten, and gosh darnit, we had changed out of our sweatpants! This dinner thing was going to happen, whether the kids liked it or not.
Wait! Buffalo Wild Wings has those laptop thingies the kids can play on while the adults eat and drink away our mistake. Let’s try that!
Only, there was a 30 minute wait, pure kryptonite to any family with small children.
Jon suggested another place, the Old Bag Of Nails. He’d been to one before, but I hadn’t, so I didn’t know what to expect. And seeing the lot almost empty was a bit off-setting. As was walking in and getting sat right away at 6:30 on a Saturday evening. Whenever that happens, I’m always skeptical. What’s wrong with the place? Is the food horrible? Will I walk out with a side of salmonella as my doggie bag?
And then, cue the angelic singing. We were escorted to a booth. With a freakin’ flat screen television mounted right on to the wall. Our own private distraction. Perfect! The kids could snack on 2nd dinner while Jon and I ate in relative peace.
Sure, they rotted their brains on Spongebob, basking in the glow emitted from that too-close T.V. But I got to have an uninterrupted meal with my husband. While the kids sat a mere six inches from my plate. I can’t remember the last time that happened.
No one played Hot Potato with their fork. No one needed to check out the bathroom several times. No one got out of their seat like a Jack-n-the-box on crack. It was lovely.
Will I rely on this kind of mindless diversion every time we go to dinner? No, absolutely not. But as a backup for a much-needed date with my husband?
You bet your Parent’s Night Out I will.