Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Time When I Realized....

...motherhood isn't for the fainthearted. Oh, and as I sit here, about to reveal my most embarrassing moment to date, I am still cringing inside. It was that bad.

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. :)


photodre said...

Okay I just have to come out of my lurk-hood because that story just kills me!! I guarantee you that he's not charged $250 (or anything for that matter)!! I would deffinetly call the corporate office! That's ridiculous to be humiliated like that. Like the sirens wasn't bad enough. I can remember my brother doing this very same thing 2 different times in Wal-Mart! Even I have to stop myself from pulling fire alarms. They're just so tempting!

HopiQ said...

I think someone would PAY YOU to publish that story in their book or parenting magazine! Parenting is definitely not for the faint of heart. And if our hearts do fail us, the Lord gives the grace and strength we need to go on. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

P.S. I've tagged ya! :0

Eryn said...

i am so sorry! but i bet you are able to laugh a little about it now, right? eventually, it will make a great story. really, you almost cant blame him for pulling him, and obviously it was in a bad spot if it had happened TWICE before. and i just want to say, how wonderful you didnt yell back. that is always my first inclination when people yell at me. (i would have been yelling through my tears). and 100 cheers for dave!

andyandjenica said...

Ok, that made my heart race and I think there are more knots now in my neck!

You have my utmost sympathy! Although, I haven't had something that embarassing (it's definitely possible), I can imagine your horror as a mother.

Good for Dave! I agree it is their responsibility to place the alarm out of a child's reach. Uhh, it happen more than once that week? That should be clue enough.

Kelly said...

OH, Rachel! I wanted to sit down and cry with you, thinking about that mean manager yelling at you!! I can't imagine how horrified you felt but how can you blame Ethan for wanting to pull such a tempting little handle that was just within reach?

I'm so proud of Dave for dealing so wisely with the manager and taking care of you and E!

Hang in there! Even though you're still mortified now, someday it will just be a funny story to look back upon!

Qtpies7 said...

OH my gosh, that is embarrassing! But I had the fire department out for setting off the fire alarm by burning popcorn at an Air Force/Army Intelligence Wargame facility! LOL Talk about feeling stupid! Around all those brainiacs, and I can't pop popcorn!

Enoch said...

Thanks for sharing.

Jessie said...

You did a great job Rachel. Hooray for Dave!!

Nicole Mc said...

Oh my goodness, i'm so sorry. I live in so called town and dont ever want to go in that restaurant again becuase of it!!! I will say to above comments, the manager really does get fined the money. However, i highly doubt that it comes out of his paycheck. It comes from his stores budget which may affect the profit which may affect his check. My husband works for a restaurant and the city actually charges the fine to the restaurant for false calls after so many per year. HOWEVER, it is INSANE that he would treat you this way and even imply that you are responsible in any way. Heres a tip, if it's happend this many times...FIX IT!!! I feel your pain,i have 3 boys!!

bandanachick said...

Oh Rach! Even though I have heard this story my eyes are still filled with tears! I can only imagine how embarrassing that was for you.
Great job Dave for taking care of it!

Reagan said...

That would be soo humiliating! Looks like you handled it well though:)

dave & rachel said...

oh, I so do not feel like I handled it well. I cried in a restaurant! Good grief! There really wasn't even a chance that I would yell at the manager. I am not that kind of person; I just don't react that way naturally. I'm not very brave. And I'm terrible with confrontation. So you see, it's not really to my credit that I didn't yell at him. :)

Even though I am probably more extroverted than Dave is, he is definitely bolder than I am, and probably more self-confident too. It's interesting to watch how people react in circumstances like this.

Thanks for all the encouragement everyone! I AM laughing about this now, as Shawna and Jessie know. But I'm definitely still cringing too. :)

Anonymous said...

oh my lands, now that is crazy! I would have yelled, -- yes, and later cried, and later yet, rethought the yelling part, and cried some more. Isn't it funny how we react differently to things -- I wish I could stay calm and composed in those situations, maybe that's why He puts us through them, ... waiting for me to one day be composed in a totally ridiculous situation. I'm sorry Ethan, Good control Rachel, and high 5 Dave!

Michelle said...

Though I haven't had any horrifically embarrassing moments such as this, I do agree that parenting is not for the faint of heart.