Al Fresco Family Dinner Night!

Life as a family of five is all about figuring out the logistics. Devang and I are officially outnumbered by at least two very quick and wiggly kids and so being anywhere away from home takes a lot of vigilance and patience. And while it can get a bit challenging to constantly give them instructions like “please sit on your bottom”, “please walk on the sidewalk”, “please hold hands”,  it is something that we need to practice often so that both we and the kids can get better at it.

So yesterday after picking up Asha and Arjun from school, we drove over to Trophy Brewing to meet some friends for beer and pizza. Since 6:00pm is a tad on the early side for dinner if you don’t have children, the five of us ordered our food and hung out on the outdoor patio as we waited for others to join! The weather was perfect, which is not always an easy thing to come by with the humid and hot days we’ve had lately.

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As you can see from the pictures, our table was right next to a busy-ish road, so we had to keep a very close eye on Arjun who likes to roam around. At the table, it was all about keeping the kids entertained with trains, conversations, I-spy, and whatever else it takes to keep the attention of a 4 and a 2-year-old. Devang and I have gotten very creative at this to say the least. As is the case at home too, when all of us eat together, I feel like we do constant talking, but without saying a single word to each other. We are locked in this parent mode trying to get the kids to eat and behave all the while making sure they have fun. And when I say things like “we don’t rub our food on our feet”, or “please don’t lick the table”, I secretly shake my head and wonder if I ever in a million years thought that I would be saying those things at a dinner table.

The beer, which we managed to drink without a single spill, was great, and so were the pizza and salad. Devang and I ordered the large Arugala and Greek salads, both of which are single-handedly enough to feed a family. We finished it without a problem though, and that made me wish we could do that at home too, where part of the salad usually sits wilted and uneaten. Is it just me or do you too feel like making a great salad at home is so laborious (a topic for another time I suppose).

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Once the kids were mostly fed, our friends arrived and it was so good to see them! I am in constant aw of people who aren’t parents and still chose to share in the dinner time chaos with us. Uncle John, Uncle Mahendra, and Uncle Vamcy, all were so so sweet in playing with the kids, being silly, and giving Devang and I a moment to feel like we can handle three more of these little humans (just kidding!!! We can’t).

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But there comes a times even with extra help when kids just don’t care about sitting down. I always see parents whose children don’t get wiggly the entire time during dinner and I wonder how they accomplished that. After making a few trips to the bathroom to check out what kind of drying equipment they had and if the soap smelled good or not (my kids find this very fascinating somehow), we inevitably came upon the moment in the night when we wanted to sit at the table and talk with our adults friends without having a car run over our self entertaining kids. So, I turned to my friend Mr. Lollypop. I gave them each a small pop and told them to enjoy it while sitting down! Next time, I will add another rule which says they can’t bit it. Folks, this trick has the potential to buy you at least 10-15 minutes of quiet time without compromising their safety ;).

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We topped the night off with some ice cream from Goosebury. It was already well past their bed time when we got home. After a quick shower however, it was so easy to put them to sleep because they were tired too. It was still only 10pm but of course we soon passed out too, wrapping up a perfect evening together!

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer based in Raleigh, NC. She writes about everything from travel, food, books, and family. Her current project includes a series of children's books to teach Hindi. She is a native Tar Heel who has also lived in Washington DC and Chicago.

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