And Then There Was This One Time At Panera…

May 15th, 2009

It is probably a complete mistake to post this story, but I feel the need to cleanse myself of a little iniquity.

My sister April, used to live in Saint Louis and I would frequently pack up my four boys and head to her house for a long weekend. Sometimes my parents would also be there and we would have a high old time driving April insane with our shopping needs and eating out at exotic restaurant needs which none of us could do back in small town Kansas. We often took all the kids out with us on these shopping and eating excursions because WE ARE IDIOTS.
So after a few hours of hitting the big box stores, we decided to get some lunch and we all decided that The Saint Louis Bread Company would be an excellent spot. Except for Drew my third son who was maybe three or four at the time and loathed The Bread Company. He hated The Bread Company. He despised The Saint Louis Bread Company. I have no idea why. We did not have a Bread Co. anywhere near us in KANSAS. Where did he form this strong opinion? What was it based on? The only time we ever went to Saint Louis Bread Co. was when we visited April’s house. Drew was only three. I couldn’t understand how any truly horrifying culinary experience could possibly be permanently imbedded in his toddler brain. But somehow, it was and he decided to throw one long fit inside The Bread Co. to prove it.
He whimpered, he whined, he gurgled, he moaned. The rest of us settled into our soup and sandwiches and tried to ignore him, but he just wouldn’t give it up. I was stern, I cajoled, I threatened, I pointed my finger and hissed, I tried to clog my ears with little bits of bread, but my three year old was getting the best of me.
Finally, I realized that we were sitting right by a huge window that looked out on the curb where April’s minivan was parked. She was in fact parked right in front of the store and I had a perfect view of her van. So I said, “Drew, if you don’t stop whining about your lunch right this very minute, I am going to put you in the van and you can whine all you want and no one will be able to hear you!”
Drew kept right on whining.
So I said it again – Right this second…stop whining… car… no one hears you… etc etc…
Drew looked me in the eye, decided I was bluffing, kicked it up a notch and threw himself on the floor in a rage.
I gotta tell ya, I was not exactly maintaining my composure at this point, but we were in a crowded restaurant and I did manage, with as much dignity as possible, to gather him up and carry him out, open up the van, wrangle him into his car seat, shut the door and walk right back into the restaurant.
When I walked back in, one table in particular was looking at me with huge melon eyes. I realized that it might be shocking to watch a woman stick her vibrating toddler in a van and walk away, but we could clearly see the van from our table and we were just about done with our lunch anyway. As I approached our table, April frantically motioned to me and in hushed tones she said…
At the same time the melon eyed people walked up to the table and said…
And then together they all explained.
I had not put Drew in April’s van.
I had put my tantrum throwing child in the melon eyed people’s van!
And there sat Drew, still crying, still flailing, still wailing…. in a complete stranger’s car.
I slunk back out to the van and got my son.
And I never used the old “taking the kid out to the car to teach him a lesson” mode of discipline again!
These days Drew picks all the restaurants.
Oh and Panera – or The Bread Co. is his very favorite place to go.
I am not even kidding you.