Today we had quite the traumatizing experience.
The morning started off well enough. I loaded up the kids and headed over to the church where our MOPS group is held to have an outdoor potluck breakfast, visit with some of my MOPS friends, and let the kids run off some steam on the playground. Due to some rain last night, the weather was blessedly at least 15, if not 20, degrees cooler than it has been the last several days, and it actually felt great to be outside.
So breakfast was really nice. The kids had fun, I had fun. Good friends, good good, good fun. All that a morning should be. I should have quit there.
But no. Chick-Fil-A was having Cow Appresheeation Day, which meant free lunch for anyone dressed like a cow. And since we do love some Chick-Fil-A and we have a cow costume in size 2T (which both girls have now worn for Halloween) that will soon be too small for Shay to squeeze into, it seemed almost silly not to take advantage and go. My friend Kristin decided to join us, and she set to cutting out two sets of the cute printables from the Chick-Fil-A website in order to cow up herself and her daughter Audrey. In retrospect, this may have been where things very first started to go wrong, as Bryn discovered a deep mud puddle while Kristin and I chatted. Bryn lost interest soon enough, but before long, both Shay and Audrey (both of whom are a little, how shall I say? more adventurous than Bryn) were crouched on its edges, floating leaves in it. Then their hands. And then, in Shay's case, her entire lower half.
I dragged Shay off to the car to strip her down while Kristin took her kids into the church for a potty break. Shay's shoes were absolutely rank, so I just shoved her into the socks I'd brought for the Chick-Fil-A playplace and hoped that the cow costume would cover her feet--which it did not, as she is really too tall for anything in 2T. Kristin arrived back rather breathlessly from the church and stated that she'd had a hard time convincing Audrey that cows do, in fact, potty in bathrooms rather than on the ground. That one is her story to tell, not mine, although perhaps another indicator of the rough afternoon ahead.
We eventually got all the kids loaded and made the drive over the Chick-Fil-A, which was quite crowded with people dressed in varying ensembles of black and white spots. Kristin and I herded up our little bovines and ushered them through the door. Kristin was carrying her bucket carseat with 6-month-old Nathan in it and had 3-year-old Audrey in tow. I had Liam in the bucket seat, 2-year-old Shay, and 4-year-old Bryn. Shay was wearing a full-on cow costume, complete with stuffed rump, and Bryn was wrapped up in a large piece of cow-spotted fabric that I bought many moons ago with the intention of turning it into pajama pants, but have never seemed to find the time. Since basically every other kid in the place was just wearing black spots taped to white shirt, they were garnering lots of stares even before the drama began.
I didn't exactly see what happened. Maybe it was the sheer amount of people in the restaurant. Maybe it was the cow fabric. Maybe she was confused because we headed straight up to the counter to order instead of claiming a booth first like usual. Maybe it was just one of those things. But somehow, before we made it past the first row of booths, Bryn took a flat-out tumble, resulting in a rough bang to the head and splitting open her bottom lip.
Somehow I managed to get her on her feet while still holding the bucket seat, and Kristin and I managed to get all the kids up to the condiment counter, where there were less people and more space for me put down Liam and crouch down to check on her. She was crying hysterically. A woman appeared out of the blue and offered to get us ice. She returned, first with ice in a napkin, then with ice sealed in a sterile plastic bag. Bryn continued to wail. People continued to stare. Part of me wanted to make some remark about oh, she's fine, she's just a drama queen (because usually, she is), but darn it, there was enough blood that I couldn't tell how deep the cut was and I just wasn't sure. The same nice woman, whose family was about ready to leave when all of this happened), guided Bryn and I over to the table that her family was about to vacate, thus ensuring us a place to sit down in the midst of of the noontime crowd.
This was when the second drama occurred. Kristin didn't exactly see what happened. Maybe Shay panicked at seeing me led away. Maybe she tried to follow us too quickly. Maybe the cow costume got in the way. Maybe it was that she was only wearing socks and no shoes. In any case, Shay went down too, and now her wails matched her sister's in bringing down the house.
I ran back and scooped her up. In a show of absolutely superhuman strength, Kristin somehow scooped up both bucket seats and got both babies and Audrey to the table. We were clearly creating quite the spectacle, because when I got back to the table with Shay, the manager was there, placating the sobbing Bryn with a dish of ice cream. He put his hand on my arm and said, "Don't worry, ma'am, I'll be right back with some help for you." Before I could even wonder if he meant physical or mental (because that that point, I felt like I could use both), he was back with the sweetest little waitress. He introduced her and told us that she was there to take our order and that absolutely anything we wanted was on the house.
Wow. Talk about customer service.
First thing was first. As I held the sobbing Shay, she kept pointing at Bryn's dish and crying, "I need ice cream! It help me feel better!" And Audrey got some too, just so she wouldn't feel the need to go injure herself to get some later.
Kristin and I both felt a little hesitant to take advantage of this kindness and ordered our kids the smallest kids' meals possible. The sweet waitress kept urging us, "And what to drink? And what on the side? And what for you? And what to drink? And fries, right?" And in the end, we had full meals for all five of us (which is really saying something, considering that my kids usuallly split a meal). Plus books from the kids' meals for all 3 kids. Plus ice cream x3. Plus the manager came back with stuffed cows for my kids. Plus the big mascot cow came over to hug my kids, which sent Shay over the moon with excitement.
In short, I received better customer service at Chick-Fil-A today than I have EVER received at ANY other restaurant, no matter how fancy. God bless the good people of Chick-Fil-A!!
And although Bryn was left with a nasty gash on her lip, the bleeding did stop partway through the dish of vanilla ice cream, so I'm assuming that means she's okay. She is, in fact, okay enough that she requested to play in the playplace at the end of lunch, which I took as a good sign, so I let her go. Shay had long since recovered from her fall, which I think just scared her far more than injured her. So Kristin and I had about five minutes of blessed quiet to recover from all the drama. Then Bryn was back, crying that some girl in the playplace had told her that her name was "silly," and I decided that it was definitely time to go.
As I got Bryn's shoes on her, Shay eyed the chair I had pulled up to the end of the table. "I climb on that?" she asked. "Absolutely not," I replied in what was left of my firmest voice. "We've had enough injuries in here today to last a lifetime." No sooner were the words out of my mouth than she grabbed the back of the chair and tried to scale it. I dropped Bryn's foot, shoe and all, and tried to grab Shay, but not quick enough..... the chair fell backwards, pinning her to the ground, eliciting a fresh round of wails from her and stares from the other customers.
I scooped Shay up. "I need more ice cream to feel better!" she wailed. That one learns quick. "No!" I told her through gritted teeth. "We're going home!" I jammed Bryn's other shoe on her foot and grabbed the bucket seat, then headed for the door. When seeing that I meant business, Shay changed her shouts to "Daddy! Daddy! I want my daddy!", thus eliciting even more stares. Another sympathetic mommy got the door for me as I exited with all the dignity I could muster, bucket seat slung over one arm, a sobbing, squirming Shay clutched in the other, and a bloodied Bryn trailing behind.
"I'll see you later then?" Kristin asked sympathetically.
"Nope," I replied. "I'm never leaving the house again."