The President recently went on vacation. And though I am no expert on the goings on of the President, I like to imagine the things that he might do on vacation. It’s all so glamorous and top secret. I picture him being whisked off to secluded beaches and entertained by world-class musicians who come right to his fancy villa and give him a private performance.  And then I imagine him dining out at elegant restaurants. I imagine the entourage that must accompany him and all the foresight and planning and careful investigation that must go into picking the eating establishment.

The secret service gets involved of course. Wearing their slick black suits and little mini walkie-talkies they must vet any restaurant before it is deemed appropriate for the chief executive.  “Blue dog, blue dog I am in the restaurant. I am assessing all available exits. Affirmative, I have identified three.  This place is looking like a possibility. Now I am checking for potential threats. All clear under the table, all clear in the restroom. I am removing all sharp objects from the vicinity. Mission completed. The area has been secured. Final mission now under way. I am reserving a table away from the crowd. Check, I have secured a table where the President can maintain a low profile and not create a stir amongst the other diners.  Bring in the boss. We are a go. Operation Eat in Peace can now begin.”

Strangely, as I imagine this federal security team, it all starts to sound familiar. Was I in the secret service in a past life? Was one of those “fresh out of college” temp jobs for the federal government? All those gigs are such a blur now I’d be hard pressed to say. Wait a minute… I know why this drill sounds familiar! This is the exact routine my husband and I go through when we want to go out to dinner with our two-and-a-half year old; except we don’t have walkie-talkies or cool black suits.

JD and Sage hang in the doorway counting light fixtures or making up songs while I creep into the restaurant to assess.  Just like the secret service, I look for easy exits. Where will I run if she has a melt down? Where will we go when she insists, “No table mommy, no more no way. I need to dance.” Next I move on to threats- are there vases on the tables? Small flames within reach? A steak knife? Do I see anything in grabbing range that my daughter might brandish like a sword? All of these items will need to be removed. Then, just like the President’s team, I look for something secluded, something off the beaten path, something one step above a coat closet or bathroom stall. The more privacy we have the more we can sing our goofy “I like the way that Sage is eating” song, and blow bubbles with our straws, and accidentally throw crayons. But I don’t stop there. I am even more thorough than the Secret Service. I check for highchairs, I make sure there is at least one screaming child in the room, I look for bendy-straws, and hope to find lots of food morsels strewn about the floor.  Loud music is a plus. Loud, live music is divine! When I’ve completed my investigation I dash back to my crew, “All systems go. Operation Eat As Fast As You Can And Get The Hell Out Of There Before Bedtime Grows Near can now begin.”

Just like the President when we enter the restaurant everyone is aware of our presence. Just like the President people gasp and wonder, “Will they sit next to me?” And when we finally do choose our seats everyone within our range stares and whispers, “What is going to happen over there at that table?”

After our meal, when we get up to leave, sometimes people clap…

It’s all very glamorous, just as it is for the President, I’m sure.