But let me catch you up to speed.
Shawna and I were shopping in a nearby city one day recently. We had driven about an hour to go to a children's resale store to sell some clothes. She had Camryn with her, and I had both my boys. And the day was going fairly well, actually.
We finished at the resale store, and decided to look for a place to have lunch. On our way to Chick-fila, we spotted Pei Wei, the fast food version of P.F. Chang's. So, so good, if you haven't tried it before. And Shawna was really thinking that their lettuce wraps sounded so good. I couldn't argue, so we decided to give it a try.
We walked into the dimly lit restaurant and stood in a line that was almost out the door. This place is really popular, and I noticed that a lot of the customers were in business attire, probably on their lunch break. My kids were doing well, waiting fairly patiently, even though the line was taking awhile. This, in itself, was no small miracle, mind you. I remember thinking to myself as I walked through the doors to that place, "I must be crazy to bring two small boys into a place like this." Famous last words, apparently.
Lining the wall where we were in line, they had bar chairs for people to sit in. Ethan asked me if he could sit on one, and without really thinking too much about it, I said that he could. About 5 minutes later, I heard Shawna gasp. I turned and saw that Ethan had pulled a fire alarm handle that was right next to his chair!
And the sirens and strobe lights started blarring. Oh my word, people. My heart just dropped.
Then the manager comes running out and says rather roughly, "You are going to have to come with me. I need your information."
I follow him to the front of the restaurant, still holding Simon, and Ethan clutching onto my leg by this point, and the manager starts in on this big tirade. Here are his main points: this has apparently happened 3 times within the last week, that some kid pulled the fire alarm. Every time it happens they charge him a $250 fine. It comes out of his paycheck, and he is going to make me pay for part of the fine.
Meanwhile, the fire department is there, and cannot figure out how to silence the stupid alarm. Everyone in the restaurant is just staring, totally annoyed that their quiet business lunch was just interrupted by some mom who apparently cannot watch her kids carefully enough. The lady in line behind us sighed and said, "This is the kind of day I'm having!"
I just stared at the manager. Surely he could not be serious! I came to eat at his restaurant and because my 3 year old (who has never seen a fire alarm before or ever previously been warned not to pull it) was curious about a handle, we are going to have to pay out the wazzoo to cover some fine? I held it together for awhile, but after several minutes of him hounding me, I just got really teary-eyed.
So he says to us, "Well, I'll tell you what I'll do. You can have lunch on me. Just relax, pick out whatever you like, and have a nice lunch."
Are you kidding me? How can I eat in your restaurant after you have chosen to publically humiliate me? I do not need your free food!
So obviously I am not that frugal. Saving money does not trump saving face, for me anyway. Shawna remarked later that we should have asked him for gift cards. :)
Well, long story short, we left the restaurant and I called Dave to see what he thought. He took control of the situation immediately. He called the manager and told him that he needs to have a cover on any fire alarm within reach of a child, and that he had no legal right to charge us for their mistake. I was so proud of him, and so thankful for a husband who is level headed in situations like these. And it does not look like we will be paying any sort of fine, thankfully.
But I have to say, this whole situation scares me. I mean, this is only the beginning, right? And I'm sure this situation is only a small taste of the humility that motherhood requires. I am going to need a lot of the Lord's grace to get through the rest of these growing up years!
"My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:26
Oh, and by the way, I talked to Ethan afterwards about why we don't pull fire alarms when there is no fire. He was very sorry and said, "Mom, if I pull the handle, it's like telling the fire trucks a lie, right?" So hopefully we won't have any more of that. One can only hope. And pray. :)