Zalaznick: Lunch with a toddler: Every second counts |

Zalaznick: Lunch with a toddler: Every second counts

Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado

A few Sundays ago, Daddy and his eldest child got kicked out of the house because Mom was having the ladies over for a nice brunch.

We knew just where to go.

The little girl and I are devout dippers in the Avon Rec Center’s pool. Toddlers don’t go there as much to swim as to catch up on the latest trends in pool tools. The pool, despite the slides and the fountains, is basically a toy exchange ” a Middle Eastern bazaar-like atmosphere where toddlers trade plastic sailboats for blowfish-shaped flowerpots for self-propelling underwater missiles.

And trade may be a nicer way of putting “tearing from each other’s hands.”

OK, so some swimming does occur, that’s if you arrive in time to get one of the coveted noodles. If you don’t know, noodles are those long tubes of hollowed-out Styrofoam on which a toddler can (sort of) float without Daddy’s hovering assistance.

Noodles are not only good for buoyancy, but they’re also easily chewed apart ” and what self-respecting toddler wants to swim when there’s something to tear apart with their brand new teeth?

I had to rescue the girl as she sunk to the bottom. She had decided apparently to exchange oxygen for a nutritious gnaw on the compacted polycarbons, or old helicoptor rotors, or whatever hideous material those noodles are made out of.

Speaking of eating ” after swimming, it was Daddy’s job to secure lunch for the child. So we went to the pizza place where they’ve got her beloved macaroni and cheese on the menu.

By beloved I don’t mean she cherishes pasta as much as she likes to shove seven noodles in her mouth right away and then use the remaining noodles to coat the table, chairs, salt and pepper shakers and surrounding customers with the melted cheese.

Her notion of adoration also includes hurling the pasta across the restaurant, ramming it into her ear and putting it to bed ” as in, she lies the noodle out caringly on the table, pets it and sings “night, night noo-noo.”

I’d like to apologize here to the waitstaff of this restaurant, which shall remain nameless. But I was the haggard, bearded man clutching the curly-headed angel and making a stink about the waitress not arriving instantly at our table with menu and high-chair.

But when you’re out in public with a toddler ” whether it’s a meal, a trip to the zoo or at a Democratc Party caucus ” every second counts in getting said love-of-your-life back to the car and headed home to her toys before she loses interest. And when a toddler loses interest, she lets everybody know.

So waiting high-chairless for our server, the girl had no other choice but to stand on the chair and unravel all the silverware and pour pepper into the parmesan shaker. When she kicked her chair over and almost fell, I snapped. I demanded satisfaction!

I was in my-child-is-the-center-of-the-universe mode ” which means I, as her fatherly protector and adult servant, also qualified as the center of the universe, or at least least a spiral arm of that universe ” when I barked at the manager.

I don’t know whether he has kids or not, but he doesn’t have my kid, and my kid ” whom I have nurtured, worried about and given bad ideas to since the second she was born ” had almost fallen and she was hungry.


Sure, kids are starving someplace in the world and we Americans are overfed and spoiled, and the earth is warming and al-Qaida still wants to harm the homeland, but all that means nothing when the toddler clock is running down toward tantrum.

That’s why, when we ordered, we asked for a few slices of pizza, the vaunted macaroni-and-chese and the check. In fact, I gave the waitress my credit card, followed her back to the kitchen and paid even before they cooks put the slices in the oven.

In fact, it would help us parents of young children if we could pre-pay at a few selected restaurants and just have the cost deducted from our tabs each time we come in. And, if somehow the restaurants could predict how much of our food will be left over and deliver the doggie bags to the car as soon as well pull up, that would help, too.

Or maybe, if we just ate the noodles at the pool, we could combine the trips and not risk using up the time on the toddler clock.

How nutritious are reconstitued helicopter rotors anyway?

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or

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