Today, after picking The Boy up from school, we went on an impromptu adventure. I had planned on taking the kids out to lunch at Panera, but there was mutiny in the ranks. I did not want to go to McDonald's, so I suggested going out for noodles as a compromise. This lead to the inevitable question:
"Mama, can we take the train there?"
It's been awhile since we've had any type of adventure, so I said yes. Since we were all in the car anyway, I parked closer to the train station and we walked over to the stop. On the train ride, I suggested that we could either get noodles or pancakes. The kids picked pancakes. So we went to The Bongo Room for high-end flapjacks.
Yes, that'd be me: challenging the bounds of Wicker Park's conventions. I knew from a previous visit that The Bongo Room had highchairs, so despite the predominantly hipster crowd that makes up its clientele, I knew that the restaurant had made some concessions to families. Plus, the acoustics in the restaurant are so bad that even if my kids had started shrieking, they'd be no louder than any other diner. Of course, as I walked in the restaurant with two children and a baby in tow, we got the once-over from the many childless single women in their 20s and 30s midway through their meals. Fortunately for me, it went fairly well. The women sitting next to us were older mom types who were happy to flirt with The Baby. As we waited for our meals to arrive, I suggested that The Boy and The Girl pass the time by stacking the creamer cups and butter packets in different configurations. And then The Girl tried to put the melamine bowl on her head as a hat. Our party did receive a few approving and amused looks from neighboring diners as we waited.
I had to eat fast, but I greatly enjoyed my flapjacks with white-chocolate and mixed berry compote sauce. The Boy and The Girl split an order of strawberry-banana pancakes with fresh fruit and a strawberry whipped cream. The Boy liked them, but The Girl was skeptical and mostly ate the fruit and cream. The Baby ate the bananas, and happily gnawed on banana pancake. I had ordered a side of hash browns and they were not so much hash browns as herbed breakfast potatoes, which was actually an improvement in my estimation. They were good, although I was really too stuffed from pancake to eat much of them.
We paid our bill ($25 with a generous tip) and skedaddled. The Boy had asked to go around the corner to Cold Stone for ice cream, but I nixed the idea since sweet pancakes for lunch was enough sugar. Besides, I was stuffed to the gills and The Girl was quite tired from all that walking on her short little legs (which are long for a 2-year-old, but still not able to withstand lots of walking, stairs, etc.).
I stopped to get cash at one of Wicker Park's many convenient doorway ATMs, and put $20 on my CTA Chicago Card at the train station. My favorite CTA guy was there -- he is the nicest CTA guy ever and is always incredibly friendly and sweet to the kids. I think he's part of what makes a trip to Wicker Park with small children in tow enjoyable. A nice face before the somewhat sneering looks of 20-somethings as you invade their turf with the products of your breeding.