"We'll take a kids' meal with nuggets, and two kids' meals with plain cheeseburgers, and be sure they are plain, with nothing on them but the burger, cheese, and bun. That's all. Nothing else. The kids won't touch them if they have that other stuff on there."
"Yes, sir. Anything else?"
"Five breadsticks, and yes I know they only come with the salad, but we don't want the salad, just the breadsticks."
"I'm sorry, sir, but we don't sell them separate."
"Yes you do, we've gotten them here before. Ask your manager. I also want.." and so he continued his long and specific requests at the fast food restaurant. It wasn't often that we were able to take all four children, all under the age of five, to a restaurant, but this fast food place had a menu to accommodate the varying appetites of the entire family. Once the order was complete and the cashier handed him cups, my husband added, "Oh, I forgot, can we switch the drink for those kids' meals to milkshakes?" The cashier was nice enough, and finished our order.
I took the children away from the counter and found tables I could push together to house all six of us, and began placing napkins and straws at each place. Short, swinging legs kicked against the wobbly tables and caused the straws to begin rolling and jumping to the children's delight.
"Daddy will be here soon with your food, please stop kicking the tables," was met with excitement and giggles. But I noticed Daddy was stalled at the ketchup dispenser to add more flavor to his chicken sandwich. It wasn't that long of a wait before he returned with two trays piled with bags, chicken, burgers, fries, shakes, and kids' toys. He was not smiling.
"They got the order wrong. I'll be right back." He grabbed his sandwich and headed back up to the counter, and I began sorting the food and reminding the children to wait for Daddy before they started eating. We always prayed together before we ate, so the kids sat quietly, sipping their milkshakes and sneaking fries when they thought I wasn't watching. Daddy came back to the table with a scowl.
"Idiots! How hard is it to put a tomato on my sandwich? Bunch of morons." Daddy was not using nice words in front of the children, but I couldn't help smiling as the giggles erupted. He opened up his sandwich, and his eyes grew wide.
"What is this?" he snarled as he jumped up grabbing his meal, and marched right back to the counter. We could hear his voice from our tables.
"I asked for a tomato and there isn't one on this sandwich. This is the second time now. Is it that difficult to put a tomato on the sandwich?"
"Calm down, sir."
"Don't tell me to calm down! I asked for a tomato and you took my sandwich back there, I was watching you! And you didn't put a tomato on it!"
"We're going to have to call the manager, sir, please calm down."
"Go ahead, call the manager! I would like to speak to them anyway! All I'm asking for is a slice of tomato on my sandwich, is that too much to ask for?"
By now every eye was watching Daddy and you could hear a pin drop. The air was thick with tension, and I began to worry how this all looked to not only the children, but to the restaurant filled with customers and workers. It felt like everything stopped and everyone's attention was on Daddy. I thought how I could quickly gather the children and the food and sneak out the door to our van while everyone else was watching the scene at the counter. But I couldn't. The kids were staring too. I was trapped.
Some people in the dining area tried to get back to their own business and casually began talking and eating again. As Daddy returned with his slice of tomato, I almost hoped he would go to another table, but of course he didn't. He walked to where the children and I were seated, pulled out the chair at the end, sat down and loudly said,
"You'd think I was asking for a lump of gold! It's not rocket science! They're like a bunch of morons!" I tried to smile at the onlookers, but was only greeted with scowls and disdain. Everyone was still listening and some staring when Daddy bowed his head and said, "Let's pray."
At least we were being a good Christian example.