This morning we attempted something I rarely attempt on our own anymore: A trip to IHOP (International House of Pancakes is now just IHOP, apparently).
Now, in the past, J and I would regularly go out to eat together. That was in the days before preschool took over his schedule more than therapy and our days became a lot more completely regimented. We would frequently drive to IKEA for their lovely potatoes and bacon that would cost us a lump sum of $5 for our entire meal together. We would venture to IHOP occasionally, mostly with success. There was one trip to Fridays that was…. okay. Not great, not terrible either, but this is par for the course with J and restaurants in general whether it’s with a few people or just us.
Today, I got crazy? Ambitious? Mentally unglued? I decided since we had gift cards, why not give my beloved IHOP a try. We had Brooklyn with us of course, so it could not be that bad, right?
Wrong. Well, kind of wrong. Sort of maybe halfway wrong.
We got seated pretty much next to the cashier and hostess. This boded poorly from the start. When you couple that with the fact that it was hot as blazes in there, we were not off to an auspicious start. I got Brooklyn under the table, no small feat, and then J was refusing to sit. The cushion on the bench on one side of the booth was torn. I guide him to the other bench and we get settled. Drinks and food are ordered and then of course all hell breaks loose.
It wasn’t as bad as say, Brooklyn eating off someone’s plate or J hanging from the rafters but it wasn’t anywhere near what would be deemed socially acceptable. J kept creeping under the table, startling Brooklyn and sending her skittering out into the path of traffic. She’d need to be coaxed back under the table, so it took a bit to move her out of the way. Then, J insisted on hanging his head off the end of the bench… into the line of traffic. This was followed by the fall into the middle of the floor routine which was only interrupted briefly by three bites of the whipped cream and chocolate chips on his “birthday pancake”, as he dubbed it.
Bless the waitress’ heart, she never flinched. She appeared at all the right times and brought all the right things. The moment she saw the antics of our party, she was lovely and accepting.
I was genuinely ready to gather up the gang, pay and go out to the car for a good cry once everyone was settled. Then this happened:
J had vanished in the single second I had taken to actually drink some of my beverage and I had not seen him walk away from the table. I looked down and there these two were, peering out at the restaurant around us from under the table. She nuzzled his hands as he patted her and assumed her “best buddy” position beside him while he leaned against her.
So yes, our trip was pretty much a disaster but when you get to see a child that has problems making connections with people throw all this trust on the paws of a friend who simply loves her buddy in return, it’s not all that bad is it. He felt unsafe and uncomfortable. She reassured and centered him, all without anyone outside of them doing anything.
I hope all episodes of failcakes end this way and that these two have a lot more years to come.