Can I Sit By You?

Can I Sit By You?

Originally uploaded by kjda

KJ Dell’Antonia
sent from my iPhone

It happens at every meal we eat out. We enter. All is calm. Approach the table with a small, preliminary flurry of activity. There is, perhaps, a little jockeying for position and then:

“Can I sit by you?”

If nothing else, this post should convince you that no child in his or her right mind should WANT to sit by me. Because I don’t even take the request well any more. I used to just agree, but then they began asking sooner and sooner, or doing crazed things–running around tables, knocking things over– to leap into the seat closest to the one I’ve chosen. I tried to be fair: well, you sat by me last time… But who can remember all that?

Why do they care?

I am around all the time. I eat nearly every meal with them. I sit next to Rory at every meal at home. But she’s the biggest offender on this one. Tonight, when Lily and I walked up to the booth at Boloco, I pulled up a chair and Lily went to slide in–and Rory leapt up, so that Lily would be on the inside and she would be on the outside, next to me. Which should, I suppose, be endearing, but it’s not. It’s the source of endless strife. Because now Lily wants to sit by me! And then Wyatt realizes that he is not sitting next to me! And Sam–he rarely enters into this, but he has said, when getting bumped for the up tenth time from his chair so that some form of peace can be achieved, that he would like to sit next to me once in a while.

I don’t know what to DO.

The last few times, I’ve just refused to sit with them at all. Thus the view from above, pictured above, tonight. I just stood behind the booth. But that’s not a practical solution. I need something long term. I need a plan, and not one that involves a rotating system.

How ridiculous, how petty, does this sound? I care, if I’m honest, for two reasons. I care because it often causes meltdowns before meals (not everyone can sit by me). And I care because it’s ANNOYING. Because it reminds me of my grandmother, who used to consistently
order the exact same thing I did in restaurants every time, to flatter me, and praised everything I did no matter how unworthy of praise. I have not earned this adulation. I don’t want this adulation. I just want us to be able to eat a meal out in peace. I want this not to be something we have to work out every single time. And I, too, want to sit next to Sam once in a while. I don’t want to always be between two of the three younger children. When we eat with others, it means I’m invariably left out of adult conversation. It means I cut all the food and wipe all the spills, too. It blows.

I think maybe I’ll make a new rule. Anyone who asks to sit by me can’t.

Which sounds like it solves the problem. But there are variations. Lily declares that she wants to sit with Rory, and Wyatt objects–I want to sit between Lily and Rory! its astonishing how MANY variations on this we can come up with. I’d say that from now on, we leave whenever it comes up, but then Sam (the most likely to be hungry) will be the most likely to suffer. Maybe we do that anyway, and he’s the only one I feed.

Seriously, this is the dumbest problem I’ve ever had.

7 Responses to “Can I Sit By You?”

  1. Laurie C says:

    OMG!! I feel your pain… yet am glad not to be alone in the ‘can I sit by you?!?!?’ mess. 🙁

  2. Grace says:

    Why not a rotating system?

  3. KJ (aka Lola Granola) says:

    Too hard to keep track of! And I feel like it just validates the whole thing. I’ve never wanted to be this precious commodity…

  4. Liz says:

    Could you make a seating chart? Draw it out and show them how everyone is going to sit. Keep it in the car and review it before you go in the restaurant. Then change it once every two weeks. If they ask or beg to sit with you then they will not be picked sit with you next time you make the seating chart. And you would have executive power to change the seating if needed.

  5. Lies1976 says:

    Role a dice. 1 is for Sam, 2 is for Lily, 3 for Rory, 4 for Rory, 5 for Rob and 6 for you. You point out the seat, roll the dice and whatever number comes up, that is who is going to sit there. Just go on until everyone is seated. Of course numbers will come up more than once (roll again) or of a person who is not there (roll again). You can customize a dice, by putting photo’s on it, but that would be to much work for me.
    The kids might get bored with this game and stop making a fuss. If they do you can say: “Okay, we need the help of the dice here.”

  6. Kirsty says:

    We also have this problem – but with only 2 children it is easier to fix. I refuse to sit by either and sit next to Dad, the children sit opposite, next to each other.

    I like the dice idea though. No one decides therefore no can be blamed if it doesn’t work the way certain people want it to.

  7. Paula says:

    I sometimes have this problem with my 5 and newly 13 year old. Almost 13 year old thinks its hilarious to set off 5 year old by wanting whatever he knows she’s going to want (sit next to me in restaurant, put check in collection plate at church, open door, etc). It’s not quite as fun for him now that I’ve started making him do these things when she’s not with us (i.e. “I know how much you like putting the check in the plate. Go over and put it in.” or out with just 13 year old and dad for lunch. “You can sit next to me since you always have to fight Jess for it. Now you don’t need to fight for the honor.”) It works since it’s not really the task that he wants but just to annoy his sister and he doesn’t want to have to do these things when she’s not around.