Just before it was time to leave the office I tried to call ManSon at home. The phone line was busy so either he was on the phone, chatting on line or both so I emailed him.
"Be ready to go out for dinner tonight. Mommy wants a good stake dinner."
No reply but I figure he is busy and I only had about five minutes until I was in my car heading out to pick up Snow White. I get to the house expecting everyone to be ready but I was met with resistance. No one wanted to go out to dinner. They said why go out to dinner? We love your cooking. I was a little stunned. We don't eat out often so when given the chance to go out for dinner I thought they would all love the idea. On the other hand I was very happy they think my cooking is better than eating out at any restaurant.
Snow White agreed to go out to dinner with me as long as she could bring her buddy Stanley. This really warmed my heart in showing me she is not ready to grow up too much...just yet. Stanley has been around since about the time she learned to walk. One night long ago Grandma gave the Channel bear, now known as Stanley to Snow White. He only left her side for a brief moment when dropped from her ever loving arms. Over the last year or so Snow White has given Stanley permission to stay at home, even on long weekend trips. This transition of letting go her favorite playmate, her blankie so to speak was a little wake up call for me. I knew she was growing up and soon many of her charming early childhood ways would be replaced with other growing sentiments. When Stanley becomes part of the decor in her room and no longer considered a childhood chum I know it will be the last time I look at the world of early childhood with my own children.
In preparation for our dinning out I looked for a department or toy store along the way. Just my luck I couldn't find one but we did happen upon a Dollar Tree. When I pointed it out Snow White laughed! "There is no such thing as a dollar tree. Everyone knows money does not grow on trees." As we circled the parking lot for a space she saw the large neon letters spelling out Dollar Tree and said "Well, it is in writing. Does this dollar tree have just dollar bills or does it give out change too?" We both laughed!
We picked out a puzzle, glitter crayons and two coloring books to play with while we waited for our food to arrive. I know T.G.I. Fridays gives the children patrons a placemat and a few crayons to play with but Snow White is at the age they are not entertaining enough. We pay for our cheap loot and head off to T.G.I Fridays. Upon arrival we are surprised to find it is not at all busy with the Wednesday night dinner rush.
Before we are seated we go to the ladies room to wash up. Snow White spies the highchairs on our way to our table so we pick one up for Stanley. The hostess leading us to the table did not see me carrying a highchair until we reach the table. The manager quickly runs over to our table and says "I am so sorry you had to carry that to your table." I explain it was a spontaneous decision and really not a big deal. Litterally, we as we walked passed the highchairs Snow White looked back at me and I knew exactly what she was thinking..."Can Stanley have a highchair?"
Just as we placed our coats on the backs of our chairs the waiter, Drew, was at our table. He asked how our day was going and inquired the name of the sweet little one in the high chair. Snow White was very please with Drew's attention to her "baby". He takes our order and then off he goes. When he returns he not only has our drinks but also one for Stanley. At the sight of this Snow White's eyes were as big as half dollars! I pick it up and give Stanley a little drink while making a slurping noise. Snow White gasped! I shook the drink and then she knew it was empty..."Oh, it's a pretend drink!" Again, she was tickled.
Our food arrived so quickly we did not have time to get out the coloring books or puzzles. The food was wonderful and we enjoyed chatting and giggling. For Snow White's side dish she chose the ever popular child side dish of french fries. I being the grown up with a stake dinner chose mashed potatoes as my veggie side. I could see in her eyes she wanted both mashed potatoes and french fries so I plopped half of mine on her plate. The funny part was she "dipped" her french fries in the mashed potatoes! Never in my life have I seen this done before. Maybe it is due to the fact no one ever orders both mashed and french fried potatoes?
When I cut my stake Drew came right over to make sure it was cooked to my satisfaction and it was. The stake practically melted in my mouth and needed no added seasonings of any sort. I have dinned T.G.I.F before and have had mixed reviews on their stakes but this one was just how I like it.
When Snow White and I had finished with our meal Drew came over to ask if there was anything more. I ordered take out for the older two who did not want to come with us. Okay, they love my cooking but I just did not feel right going home without restaurant meals for them too. I knew they wouldn't eat them until later but still, I am their Mom so I brought stake and shrimp dinners home.
While we waited for the To-Go order Snow White cracked open a small puzzle. I looked about and the restaurant was FULL. By the time we finished the small 24 piece puzzle our take out was ready. I was so pleased with our service I made sure to give a generous tip (half of the bill). I have been to restaurants who cater to families, children and even myself. I have also been on the receiving end of wait staff who are just not meant for positions out in the general public. When extra attention is given that makes a meal go from just a meal out to a fun evening for all I will make sure they are given my gratitude verbally and monetarily. When the wait staff actually makes my child(ren) feel special they are half way to a hearty tip in my book. If my children are enjoying their dinner, I am enjoying mine.
When we arrived at home I handed over the take out bag and said "It's all yours minus the Stanley cup." ManSon says [as if in pain] "Must. Think. Of. Hockey. Joke. Must. Think." At that I laugh whole heartily and laughingly say "Why, oh why didn't I think of that when the waiter brought Stanley's drink!!!"
Unbeknownst to me, we were in the presences of Hockey Greatness ....the STANLEY CUP.