Please, no periodics at the table

We had just gotten settled in at the restaurant,  which for us means that everyone had their drinks (white wine for me thanks), both kids had made at least one trip to the bathroom and my daughter was camped out under the table with her Little Pet Shop toys and a bag of oyster crackers, when my son initiated some pre-dinner chit chat.

Him Mom, what are your favorite THREE elements?

Me What? Huh? What do you mean by elements? (Looks at my mom sitting across the booth for help. She sips wine and shrugs)

Him Elements, as in periodic table of ELEMENTS. What are your three favorite?

Me Umm….well, I guess oxygen, hydrogen and GOLD!

Him Why did you choose THOSE three?

Me Because they were the only ones I could remember. And gold is shiiiiiiiiiiny and pretty!

Him Come on, be serious. Out of over 100 elements those were the only three you remember?

Me Yes. I like sparky things. I can’t remember if any of the elements are sparkly.

Him Stop it, Mom! COME ON, THINK!

Me I haven’t taken chemistry in 20 years, STOP YELLING IN THE RESTAURANT!

Her (Daughter yelling from under the table) WHY ARE YOU GUYS YELLING?

So the boy rattles off about 20 or so names of elements but they sound like ONEBIGWORD and I’m just GLUPING my wine and staring at him because he will NOT stop talking about how they all have such unique and interesting properties so OF COURSE he can see where someone would be like, “HOW CAN ANYONE CHOOSE JUST THREE?”

And honestly, I can see where that would be something of a challenge for someone who A) knows what the hell he was even talking about or B) gives a shit about what was even talking about or C) can ‘t even remember what they had for breakfast that day let alone what they learned in chemistry 20 years ago.

“C” would describe me.

Now if he asked for my top three television crime shows (NCIS, CSI and Criminal Minds) or Snapple flavors (Peach Tea, Peach Tea and Peach Tea), I wouldn’t be nervously squirming around on the plastic cushion making fart noises and feeling like all hope of ever having his respect ever again was about to be lost. I knew immediately that I had to find a way to change the subject or get my head out of my ass and talk elemental chemistry. Hmm….ass. That gave me an idea.

Me Okay – I like Barium because it’s used for enemas and Sulfer because it smells like egg farts. And still gold,  since you ARE making me choose three.

And that’s how you do it, I snickered to myself. Guuuuuurl, that was pure GOLD, (which I said was one of my top three, memba?) I said to myself and the voice in my head telling me how clever and witty I am. There is no way my 12 year old kid is going to keep talking chemistry when given a free pass to start talking butts and flatulence at the dinner table, IN A RESTAURANT! But this backfired (I said backfire – this makes me think of farting), and I knew I was in possession of fool’s gold when I saw the perturbed look on my son’s face.

Him Forget it. I can see this discussion is going nowhere.

DAMMIT! I blew it – BIG TIME.  I feared this  could quite  possibly THE revelation of my ignorance and immaturity would meant the end of my ability to be seen as anything other than the idiot I have always been, but was able to strategically hide from him for over a decade. I was about to pull out my phone so that I could Google the periodic table, figuring I could save face a bit if I had a visual aide to jog my memory, when I was distracted by movement and gagging noises.

I glanced in the direction of the distraction to see that my mom’s entire body was quivering with silent laughter and she had choked a bit on the wine she was drinking. I was going to get grumpy with her for not helping me, but I remembered she had to parent ME and deserved a good giggle (or 100) at my expense. I was even going to acknowledge this to her, but before I could get a word out I noticed that my daughter  had climbed up from under the table and was LICKING the glass that separated our booth from the one next to us.

“STOP LICKING THE GLASS!” I cried out just as one of her legs shot up in the air. She was attempting to climb over the glass partition and before the last word even left my lips, she began crying because her flip-flop had fallen into the booth next to us.

I hurled myself across the table, attempting to grab her before the rest of her body made it over the divide, spilling my wine in the process. My son was so disgusted by his little sister, that he forgot how disappointed he was in me, but only until I dropped my head onto the table and started waving my hands in the air while calling out for the waitress. LOUDLY –

“Excuse me, EXCUSE ME, WAITRESS! Can you PLEASE get me another glass of wine and can you please HURRY?”

And so although I frequently take the opportunity to rant about how much  I loathe and completely suck at cooking, and that the constant complaining and mess at mealtime jacks my nerves almost to the breaking point, I’ve realized that I am not getting a break in any way by taking my children out to eat. It’s a whole LOT cheaper for us to embarass and disappoint each other in the privacy of our own home where nobody has to wear shoes, I can put all our drinks in sippy cups and there are a million ways to distract my kids in order to throw them off the scent of my stupidity.

And last, but not least important in this cautionary tale and explanation as to why I dislike taking my kids to restaurants, it’s important to point out that when we are at home, I’m the waitress so not only do I not have to wait for someone to get me more wine, but I am also a good tipper and I tip myself with WINE.


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  • If you were Achmeninutjob or Kim Menta Lee Il, you would have at least remembered Uranium and Plutonium, but not Einsteinium.

    Argon, neon, and xenon at least are bright. Also, your son might be, too. While you didn't say how old he is, he might someday get admitted to the Illinois Math and Science Academy and get a job in the securities industry. I know someone who did.

  • In reply to jack:

    jack, he is 12 and very bright and creative. and serious. he was born 80 years old. i like to imagine him someday throwing his shoes at kids who dare to walk on his lawn and quizzing the meals on wheels delivery people about chemistry, greek mythology and metaphors. if he didn't come out of my body, i would not believe he was my son. he is better than i can ever hope to be as a human and a mind that will someday matter to the world. thanks for commenting AND giving me some elements.

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    Can he help me with MY Chemistry???? It's on online class... I'll totally hook him up! hahaha (I'm only half kidding.... do you think he'd do it??? )

  • it will cost you ONE sock monkey. wink wink.

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  • I did Chem till I was sixteen and although I remember a handful of elements, I swear they were never in a thing called the Periodic Table. Maybe it was taught differently across the Pond. I'l have to phone a friend.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    Just about everyone here who has taken any science has seen the periodic table in class. An example is here. That one is a bit easier as it has colors, instead of having to remember one column is the noble gases, the metals are on one side of the line, and the column with sodium and the column with chloride make up the various salts.

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    Next time he asks you for a list of favorite things just tell him "I can't choose. That would be like asking me who I love more, you or your sister." Making those kind of choices just wouldn't be fair to anyone.

  • In reply to Marian Stimson:

    i tell them both privately that they are my favorite. it's leverage, right?

  • bless your angel heart Niki,
    every damn time i read your blog I end up snorting out loud at the computer. This morning, I was mid-giant slug of hot chai tea than k you very much :D love you ( in the i don't even know you, but I'm fairly certain we were separated at birth sort of way) and love your kid stories. Enjoy the weekend.

  • In reply to saramo98:

    my weekend was rad. thanks for commenting sara.....xo

  • LOL - i guess i'm a nerd. i made my boyfriend a "periodic table of Bob's* elements" card last week. No it wasn't his birthday. We just both like Nova and the periodic table of elements.

    by the way - my favorite is Curium

    *name changed to protect the nerdy.....

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