I digress. Our food was great, the service was just fine, and the prices are pretty cheap. A busy place, full of people in good moods, cheering on VCU basketball. But I wouldn't call it a good time.
Walked in, found that we had a short wait to get a table. There's not a lot of waiting space, so everywhere we were with a car seat was in someone's way. Got a table in a few minutes, but it's a high-top deal, tucked into a little inset place in the wall. We'll make it work, I said, and they brought us a high chair for the baby. "High" is a relative term, as it turns out, it's about two feet less high than "high-top table," so it was about as useful as a car without keys. So for the entire meal, one of us held Fiona. Which also means one person holds and entertains, while the other one shovels food in, trying to finish before your mate's food gets cold so you can take the baby.
Going out to eat with a baby means you have to clear the area within arm's reach of silverware, glasses, and anything else that isn't attached, or it will be in the floor. It means your menu is going to be used as a screen for all the other stuff you don't want chewed on or tossed around. It means you're probably going to squeeze beside your high-top and chairs to pick up a pacifier and reach for the disinfecting wipes over and over.
Can you tell why there aren't any pictures from this little outing?
So no, I wouldn't really call it a relaxing night out with the family. It's much easier to make something at home and eat there, where we know the high chair is the right height, we know we have toys she can play with, and we know when the floor was last cleaned. We'll definitely do it again sometime soon, though.
Before I had a child, my impression of parenthood was that your life is over. No more doing anything that you want to do, no more fun, no more nice nights out, etc. So maybe my determination to continue going out like this is in defiance of my own pre-conceived notions of what my life has become. And really, I think that's a good enough reason in itself. More than that, though, I want to spend time with my wife and daughter, and I want to do things like this because that's what families do. As she gets older, we'll go out as a means of teaching her how to act in various situations...right now, it's for us, and it's sort of Dylan Thomas-ish...
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
For the record, I was wrong: you can still do a lot of things you used to do before being a parent. Sometimes that means you do it less often, sometimes it means you do it to a lesser extent, but often it just means you bring your child with you and do it together. Which is cool. Kind of. It will be cool, eventually.