Friday, March 28, 2008

All the World's a Playground

Was it Shakespeare who once said, “All the world’s a playground…” Or maybe I’m thinking of the parody quote by Weird Al Yankovich. Anyway, whoever said it, it’s a spot-on metaphor for our little world of Danville—when you’re three years old.

No matter where you go or what you do, when you’re three, everything is a playground. Take going out to dinner, for example. Before we had kids, eating in a restaurant in Danville was a simple pastime for us. We’d slip into designer chairs at our favorite haunt, order a couple of glasses of Spanish wine, peruse the tempting menu, and settle into pithy conversations about credit card debt.

When we had kids, we tried to continue the weekly ritual, but when our three-year-old son Matt learned how to arch his back and slip out of the high chair, we pretty much stuck to pizza parlors and fast-food restaurants from then on.

It wasn’t until the kids moved out that we were able to return to restaurants that didn’t have video games along the back wall and plastic menus that came with a side of crayons. Lately we’ve been meeting our extended family—including our two young grandsons—at local restaurants. My husband Tom and I go early to secure a table for the growing numbers, but once we mention we’ll need a highchair, we’re seated in a dark back corner.

While we wait for the others, we order a bottle of economical Chianti, (supersize it, please), and try to drink as much as possible before the troops pull in. When the rest of the gang finally arrives (Luke had to finish his nap, Bradley had to finish his Wii game), we attempt to seat the three year old in the high chair, but Bradley prefers a real chair now, so the high chair turns into a catchall for purses, toys, blankets, diaper bags, and already-been-chewed bread.

The restaurant quickly becomes a playground for Bradley, who prefers bouncing on the seat, crawling under the table, and running out to watch the chefs prepare the meal than sitting, chatting, or waiting for the food to arrive. I don’t blame him. There’s just so much to do in a restaurant when you’re three besides eat. When the food arrives, we order another bottle of wine and chug it down while we swallow our food whole. During dinner Bradley plays with his mother’s iPhone (which he operates better than most adults), eats the tops off all the garlic bread slices, and entertains us with his musical repertoire—the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, the Hamster Dance, and a couple of songs he made up.

When the check arrives, we all take a deep breath and wait for indigestion to settle in while Bradley plays a drum solo on the empty plates using his silverware, stacks the sugar packets into a tower, and waves in collusion to a kid at the next tableLike I said—and perhaps Shakespeare before me—“All the world’s a playground…” if you’re a kid. Unfortunately, if you’re an adult, you only get to watch.


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