We have been pushing Athena this weekend. And we are learning quickly that she is not to be pushed. Saturday night would have been a disaster had we not had such understanding friends. Tonight went very well since we learned our limits last night.
We had friends in from London last night. They emailed us about a week or so ago and asked if we were free on the 24th because they were going to be in Cary "just for the night." Obviously, I was surprised at the short length of the visit, since Cary, NC, is not known to be a hub for international travel. Turns out, Wayne had a business meeting at Red Hat on Monday, and then they are leaving for New York to do some work in their office there. Cheryl is along for the ride. And they only had Saturday night because Wayne's boss was coming in today (Sunday) and he would be occupying their time.
The drawback to meeting them on Saturday was that their flight from Gatwick arrived at 4:15 or so. Athena normally eats around 6, so by the time they got through customs and picked up their car, it was going to be at LEAST 5:45 before they got to Cary. Still, how often do you get to see your friends from the other side of the Atlantic, so we arranged to be at their hotel at 6 to pick them up. We plied Athena with a snack, and since customs was slow, Athena had some time to work off some energy running around the hotel lobby.
Now, Cary on a Saturday night is often a challenge without reservations, but we didn't know where our friends would want to eat, so we didn't make any. I know of a couple of places where lines aren't normally too bad, and planned to suggest those places. We settled on Lone Star after we called Outback on a whim and found the wait would be 80 to 90 minutes. This may have been our first big mistake of the evening.
When we arrived at Lone Star, it was approaching 7pm. This is very late for our little munchkin to eat. Still, they said the wait would be 15 minutes maximum, and Athena was in good spirits, so we agreed.
30 minutes later, Wayne checked on our situation, and they said it would be... you guessed it... 15 more minutes. I went in to find bread for our child, who by now was pretty grumpy and pretty gosh darn hungry. The manager was very accommodating, and provided me not just with one roll, but with a whole basket. This did seem to help her mood quite a bit.
Then, she found the cactus. We were waiting outside, and letting Athena run a bit. Soon, she discovered the cacti growing around the front of the restaurant for ambiance. Most of the plants were quite dead, but she found one that was struggling to survive, and she touched it. This led to the meltdown of the century.
Fortunately, a spine did not lodge itself in her hand, but clearly the pain it had caused just in the brief contact she had was significant. Adding her hunger and her sleepiness to this, we knew it was simply time to go.
Chris ran in to tell the hostesses that we were leaving, and they practically begged us to stay. They offered to seat us next (despite three others in line ahead of us) and even said they had tweezers if that would help Athena's hand. Chris politely refused and we hauled it on out of there.
We dashed through the McD's drive through to get a happy meal in the hopes it would actually create some joy in our poor, exhausted child. The chicken and fries did seem to help, but we just couldn't get home fast enough to satisfy her. In our attempt to get home quickly, we lost Wayne and Cheryl, who had no idea how to get to our house. After some phone calls while Athena was in the bath, we agreed to order pizza at the house and I gave our friends directions to get here.
The bath seemed to calm Athena immediately, and sooth any pain she still had in her hand. We gave her some Tylenol just in case, and she sailed off to sleep without further incident. Our friends arrived just ahead of the pizza, and the rest of the evening went beautifully. But we have certainly learned our lesson about pushing our daughter.
Tonight, we arranged to go to the home of one of Athena's friends from daycare for dinner. His mom happens to work for the library system, which is really how we met, but Aiden and Athena are in the same class at daycare and they get along famously. We haven't been able to get together with them outside of daycare/work for quite some time, and I really wanted to make it up to Athena for keeping her out so late the night before.
We got there right at 6 with a side dish and some brownies, and they had just pulled the chicken off the grill. The kids sat at opposite ends of the table (I'm afraid Athena's manners weren't nearly so good as Aiden's, but he IS several months older...) and after dinner they PLAYED and PLAYED. They ran, they laughed, they threw pointed blocks at each other. They were so happy. It was such a different scene from the night before. So now I know... it's not so much how late she is out... it's whether or not she has a friend to play with.