Autism: From the outside looking in. Lifestyle Parenting

Dinner And A Show: Why going out to eat is hectic!

Having children with severe autism is difficult at home, but it is also difficult outside of the home.

Julian and Joshua will not sit still during any meal. When plates are placed on the table, Joshua will immediately climb on the table, and pick the food that he wants off of each plate. After that, he will jump off of the table and hop away.

Julian will take whatever food he wants off of his plate and run to the nearest corner with his tablet. Sometimes he will come back to steal someone’s drink.

This happens every single day during any meal. It’s exhausting because the other kids won’t guard their plates. Not to mention, naked Joshua is not what we crave to see while we are eating. I expressed before how my boys don’t like wearing clothes or diapers….

Anyway, the last peaceful dinner outing that my family had was when my twins were newborns. This was the Mother’s Day after they were born. My husband took us all to Chili’s. The only issues we had stemmed from Julian throwing his food on the floor, and Avery spilling his drink. He always does that for some reason.

My golden rule is to leave the waiter no less than $20 for a tip. I do this because kids are messy, and I used to bus tables. It’s not fun. Have you ever had to clean corn kernels off of the floor?

The food was good. The trip was smooth sailing. I had to feed the twins, obviously. We had a great day.

Last year, we took a family trip to Ruby Tuesday for Mother’s Day after a couple of decent trips to Golden Corral.

It wasn’t a fun experience. Yes, the boys had on clothes. My husband and I were prepared with snacks, cups of milk, and fully charged tablets. Unfortunately, that was not good enough that day. Julian and Joshua didn’t want to sit in their booster seats. After they tried to destroy the blinds, Julian made his way behind the bar, and Joshua decided to munch on the kiddie menu crayons.

Attempts to redirect them were disastrous. The tantrums were bad, but the stares were worse. I had that familiar, idiotic grin on my face as I was staring back at the other bewildered dinner guests. I hate that I always have to explain why my sons have meltdowns in public. Why can’t people just mind their business? I know they weren’t paying for dinner and a show, but why I just wish everyone understood autism.

Not gonna happen….

Donnie and I were each holding a screaming and flailing toddler. We didn’t even notice that our food had arrived. By the time we got the boys partially calmed, the food was cold.

At that point, I was ready to go. Donnie took all of the kids to the car. I stayed behind to straighten up our mess and take care of the check.

“Never again!” I screamed in my mind.

We did it again…..

A couple of months later, we took our annual vacation to Myrtle Beach. I was excited to try Joe’s Crab Shack. I literally could not shut the hell up until we got to this place.

After a morning of shopping and recreation at Broadway at the Beach, Donnie and I freshened the younger kids up and we headed for the restaurant. Right outside of Joe’s Crab Shack was a vendor who was selling these yelping toy dogs. Jessica desperately wanted one. I was about to say “Hell no”, but Jessica has this charm about her. I reluctantly took out my wallet, and purchased a toy fo for each of the younger kids. These dogs didn’t even come with batteries. It’s all about money. Sigh!

We made our way into the restaurant. I decided to have my family sit at one of the picnic tables outside. It was hot, but I figured that the kids would be too distracted by the playground.

After 20 minutes, we had still not seen a waiter. Julian and Joshua were starting to lose patience. I was too, but I understand that things can happen i food service.

The meltdowns started after another 20 minutes of waiting. Julian and Joshua started throwing tantrums on the ground. I started panicking. Donnie went to find a waitress. When Donnie returned, we were relocated to a table inside. The cool air felt heavenly!

We strapped Julian and Joshua into high chairs and gave them crayons and paper. Another 15 minutes passed, and we had still not seen a water. I was fed up. Julian and Joshua started crying again. This time, they refused consolation. I located a waiter and explained to her that I had autistic children and need to eat and go.

We finally got our drink order after an hour of waiting. Several waiters were scrambling to get our food orders. By then, there were crayons all over the floor, and the boys were screaming and failing. Donnie’s desperate attempts to console them were in vain. I was trying my best to avoid the stares that I felt, while reassuring my other children.

An idea clicked in my head. Julian kept throwing his crayons on the floor, so I thought to let the boys out of their chairs. I let them lay on the floor. That seemed to do the truck. They both began sorting the crayons. It was quiet. There were a lot of judgmental stares. I know people were thinking, “why would she let her kids lay down on that dirty ass floor?!” I get it. I would ha e thought the same thing years ago, but at that time I would’ve given anything for my boys to be content. God made soap and water, and God made washers and dryers. They were going to be fine.

We finally got our food and were able to eat. The food wasn’t anything special. It wasn’t anything that I couldn’t make at home. However, I wasn’t going to make that food at home, and I was just grateful to have food at that time.

Though Julian and Joshua had meltdowns, and our service wasn’t that great, I slapped that $20 tip on the table. No matter what happened, waiters have a difficult job, and my kids’ mess made it that much harder. We will never eat out again though(I’m probably lying).

If you are interested in jewelry, I sell paparazzi jewelry through my business, “Antonia’s Glamsc8pe”. Feed your $5.00 habit at my online store:

By Antonia Harris

A stay-at-home mom & dedicated wife on a path to find a purpose.

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