“NO!!! NO!!! NO, MAMA!!!! I DON’T WANT TO GO OUTSIDE!!!” I shove one arm into my winter coat while grabbing a tiny leg with the other. There’s a loud thud and the half liters of German beer shake on the thick wooden table as I bonk my head – trying to escape from the dark cave with my treasure, my love, my third child. I emerge from its underbelly – squirming into the other half of my coat, wrestling my three year old, and dying of embarrassment. The low roar of the restaurant is no match for my precious angel’s piercing screams. The college students pause from their card games, beer chugging, and conversation to eye the circus exiting the swinging front doors of the German tavern.
“A local restaurant. . . our hostess said,” I mumble and step onto the shimmering cobbles and into the rain – my umbrella left behind in my desperate plight.
“I SORRY!!! I SORRY MAMA!!!” my son’s shrieks – his words racing up and around the gables and inset wood frames of the German homes and shops. Lamplights twinkle in the drizzle, casting romantic shadows on the lane. I roll my eyes at the irony. I pop up my son’s hood and snap on my hat to protect us from the falling precipitation. I pace up and down the road at a quick pace – holding him tightly and whispering – my words short and warm on his tiny ear lobe.
“We told you – you need to SIT when we EAT! We are at a restaurant! You can color, you can read books – you sister packed a whole backpack full of things for you to do,” I huff. My pulse calming with each step in the rain.
“I sorry, Mama,” he mumbles, his little lip pouting. I breathe deep. We both do. The air is crisp and cool. Fresh and refreshing. I eye the rest of my family through the window panes – etched deep with wood, the glass warped by time. My husband looks up from a workbook – my other two are practicing their English spelling and printed letters. He twists his lips and gives a short wave. I nod back and nuzzle the child in my arms.
“I know. I know you’re sorry,” I give him a kiss on the cheek, “But you need to learn, sweetie. I know it takes a while for the food to come, but you still need to sit – and no yelling, either.”
“Okay, Mama,” he puts his tiny hands on my cheeks and puckers. He gives me a big smack on the lips and I laugh. He knows how to work it.
“Can we try again?” I ask, my gaze darting once more around the lane – the cobbles, the hanging wooden street signs, the Christmas lights sparkling around windows.
“Yes, Mama” he smiles. His devious smile. I push open the door, weave myself back into the tavern, and take my place with my family of five amongst the laughter, German beer, and students half my age.