Eating with Kids at Subway

There is no such thing as a kid-friendly restaurant. Restaurants go pretty much the same whether it's a 4-star feast or a McDonald's run or anything in between; we know because we've tried them all. Once per week we go out to eat as a family. But today, I went solo. For lunch. I shouldn't have gone in without backup. It was an amateur mistake.

There's a line. I stand there holding G, pretending like I'm going to hold her until the end of the line, then carry her and our food to a high chair I've chosen, to a table I've chosen, and strap her in.

kids at subway
kids at subway

Instead, this is what happens:

Subway displays chips right at hip height along the entire length of the ordering line. Now I remember why I haven't taken them back since July. No matter if the child is standing or in your arms, irresistable colorful, noisemaking, mini-bags of chips are accessible.

G alternately sticks them in her mouth and whacks me in the face with them, announcing their name.

The Subway employee ignores this entirely and pummels me with a series of questions on which I just cannot concentrate on lest I risk a repeat of The Great Subway Chip Rack Incident of 2013.

And it was about to happen.

C was hanging like a monkey on the chip rack. I knew from The Incident that if you pull hard enough, that thing will ka-ping right off and a 3-foot long sharp rack will disperse chips to the entire restaurant like parade candy.

I asked him to go select a table and pull a high chair up to it. He's 4. He can handle this. By the time the negotiation is over and I've simultaneously directed the complex construction project that is two 6" meatball subs, G has lost patience, squirms out of my arms, and has followed C. That is, after climbing into and out of 3 other chairs.

subway windows
subway windows

So which table does he choose?

The *only* one with window cords hanging down, right at neck height. Despite asking him to stop messing with them, 0.8 seconds later, he's under the bench, pulling the cord to see how far it will go.

So although I've begun distributing the food to vulture baby, who won't stop touching stuff before I can serve it, I pack it and the coats and the gloves and the hats and the diaper bag up and we move one table down.

But this is no better, because I'd made the decision to not put G in a high chair this time, since it inevitably leads to her escape, her table dancing, and her feet in my food, in the blink of an eye. I'll just give her the entire bench over there to prowl around like a caged tiger and eat, because I need to eat, too.

The only problem with that is now I'm trapped in the cage on the other side with Squirmy C. And he's got salty, filthy snow boots on. I rip off the boots, drop them on the floor, and begin serving again. But I cannot deal with his squirmy sock feet on me, either, not when there's a perfectly good half bench/half 2-chair option one more table down.

So we move a second time.

I put the food items up on the windowsill, and still I have to keep moving them to keep them away from G, who's grabbing at anything and sticking it in her mouth - my straw, napkins, the bag, everything. Finally, finally, we are all ready to eat. Except G, who is apparently already done. I attempt eating again, though G is now climbing into chairs (fine, whatever! Just let me eat), as well as across from strangers from whom I'm certain she will try to steal food and squirrel it away in her cheeks to release on the ride home.

subway table 1
subway table 1
subway table 2
subway table 2
subway table 3
subway table 3
subway table 4
subway table 4
subway table 5
subway table 5
subway piggy toes
subway piggy toes

I bring her back to the table a couple of times, but I'm just trying to eat. So I put her in a high chair, which results in skreiking, wailing, and screaming of every kind. Then she gets out and climbs onto the table. No straps will keep her down. I put her back in her bench. She takes off one sock, sticks her chubby baby, painted-red toes on the table and says:

subway smoosh
subway smoosh

Then for a finale, she picks up her 2-inch meatball sub and does this:

And before I can even get a bite, I have to go wipe it up. She's already taken her sock foot and smeared it: a pathway of marinara sauce leading directly to two meatballs. An illustration would be obscene.