May 02, 2014

Table for Seven

One of the "losses" we have had in this journey is giving up dining out as a family.  In past years such attempts have been a whole heap of cray cray.  Bridger couldn't handle the crowds, he didn't eat orally and the stresses to the senses with the sights, sounds and smells caused him to react accordingly.  Every once in a while Alan will have family-dining-out-amnesia and want to all go out to eat together.  His mere suggestion to do so will usually send me rocking in the fetal position sucking my thumb.  Occasionally I will give into his request and after the mad 48 minutes of dining fun is over we leave the restaurant and exchange the questioning glance of dismay that says, "We just paid for that experience?"

Well, guess what?  There is a light at the end of the tunnel. A teeny weeny little flicker, but a light nonetheless.  Through lots of work, planning, coaching, etc., we finally were able to dine as a family. The lucky restaurant . . .  Bob Evans!  It works because it is quiet, breakfast food always serves up fast so our "countdown to meltdown" time is maximized, and its menu includes Bridger exclusive #1 oral intake of pancakes.  If we were never able to eat anywhere else again, I was satisfied that at least we could go to Bob Evans.  
still working on chewing with our mouth closed
Over the months that followed our Bob Evans discovery, the hope of family dining grew as we added one more dining option - CiCi's Pizza.  Bridger's other signature food is pizza. At CiCi's we can have instant food since it is a buffet, Bridger sits there content with his iPad and being fork fed bite after bite of saucy, low quality pizza.  And, since we have full disclosure here, can I just say that I am obsessed with the Fanta Apple soda at CiCi's.  yum.

Not trying to be greedy, we pushed for more options and after a lot of failures we added Cracker Barrel to the list of venues.  Pancakes 'round the clock, store of toys to escape to in the event of meltdowns, and a huge fascination with those little golf tee wooden triangle games -- particularly with throwing the golf tees (watch out neighboring diners!) It was a winner.

Well, the recent addition of a 4th restaurant makes this success finally something to blog about.  Bridger's latest dining out obsession has earned a nickname of its own - "The Apple Restaurant."  That would be referring to Chili's.  It earned its name because of the little electronic tablets on every table that Bridger can play the couple of little games on (which is apparently much more fascinating than the dozens of app options on both of his iPads we tote along with us everywhere - aka the "apples"). His new food that he will eat which is served there -- tortillas (but only if they are solid white with not a fleck of black on them.) When we went there for the first time and he was at the end of the table playing on his tablet with a container of tortillas he exclaimed in his loudest and most excited voice possible, "I Lub Dis Ress-Raun!!!" (Translated: I Love This Restaurant!!!) He begs to go there, which makes me so happy to know that he can be happy and the rest of the family can be happy at the same time . . . and that I can get out of cooking for a night.

It's been a long difficult road of many plates being aborted mid-meal due to special issues.  My kids even know the "vomit plan" - each having their assignment as to who does what and takes whom and to where in the event that Bridger vomits during the meal due to sensory reactions to the sight of the various foods.  Ahh, we have come a long way.  We have a long way yet to go.  But for now, I am grateful for my choice of four. . . FOUR(!) restaurants to choose from.

Table for seven please.