I don't know about the rest of you, but Sundays seem extra long and busy around our household. We try hard to prepare for everything on Saturday night to make Sunday easier. I was excited about teaching Children's Church today, as I had an awesome lesson planned on faith. I was reminded, once again, of why I am thankful I don't have girls - but that is another blog. All of the children were exceptionally well behaved and this Sunday seemed to be going by smoothly.
I have been on a cooking strike for the past few days, so we decided to go to Applebee's for lunch. This was going to be our last time going out, because we are craving the healthy lifestyle we recently abandoned (out of laziness). The boys were wound up and Matthew enjoyed letting the whole restaurant know he was there. Eric did fairly well, though, so our attention was focused on keeping Matthew as best we could. We ate quickly to get the boys out of there as quickly as possible. It was nap time!! John began to get stressed with Matthew's activity and asked me to take the boys out of the restaurant while he boxed up our meals and paid.
I took them out and then remembered I had left my keys on the table. I figured John would bring them out so I waited. He came out and saw us standing there. I asked him if he had the keys. He said no and I told him I had left them on the table. He seemed to take an unusually long time and I began to wonder if they had fallen off the table. He came back out to inform me that there were no keys on the table and he sent me in to look for them. Slightly furstrated at my husband's inability to see things that are in plain view, I left the kids with him to go retrieve the keys. No keys. I checked the seats. No keys. I checked the floor. No keys. The waitress came over and asked if I had lost something. I told her I was looking for our keys. We pulled the table out. We pulled the benches out. No keys. My worst fear - they had been thrown away.
Things had started to pick up at Applebee's with the Sunday crowd, so she told me she would look through the trash, though she had not seen them and swore she had not picked them up. Impossible. They were RIGHT there on the table. Now, it was my fault, because I had laid the keys close to the pile of trash and dishes and I felt badly about that, but she should have seen the keys before throwing them out! So I waited, wondering what kind of nasty food would be embedded in my keys. She came back with a concerned look on her face. She didn't find any keys. Now I started to get frustrated. We searched the booth again. A customer was asked to stand so her booth could be moved. NO keys. I had no pockets. So I didn't have
them. John checked his pockets. He didn't have them. I KNOW I brought them in with me because I locked the van from inside Applebee's. They were RIGHT on the table. I insisted that the waitress must have thrown them out and to please check again. Her frustration and agitation was starting to show but she said she would look again. I went and told John I think they had been thrown out and they were searching for them. John asked that I take a child with me so that he didn't have to deal with both. I brought Eric along with me. They went through the trash THREE times before the manager came out and said, "I am sorry, but we can't find your keys. Give me your number and I will call you if we find them." I was near tears. We didn't have a spare key. The boys' carseats were locked in the van, so we coudln't just call somebody to come get us. I didn't know what to do. I went outside to tell John and he said, "They HAD to have been thrown away. We can NOT leave until we get those keys. Go get them!"
I went back in and asked if they would be willing to let ME go through the trash myself. Wanting desperately for me to leave, they obliged. So Eric and I headed to the back of the restaurant to dig through trash. They set me up in the back with 2 bags of trash - the ONLY two that they could have been dumped in. Once again they insisted that the keys were not in the trash. I apologized but insisted I was convinced that they were. I was told there was no need to apologize - I was bringing this on myself. As I started to go through it piece by piece, one of the workers offered assistance by saying, "Here - it's easier if you spread it out like this," and she spread the trash out within the bag. I said, "I will go through it piece by piece." She said, "Ok. You want another bag? I'll get you another bag!" And she brought me a clean trash bag so i could go through piece by piece. I was given gloves, so I bravely went through EVERY napkin, EVERY cup, EVERY wadded up piece of foil. Amused with me and amazed that I was this stubborn, one of the workers started talking to Eric. "Do you have mommy's keys? Are they in your pocket?" Wouldn't that be nice! If it were that simple, he would have given them to me an HOUR ago! Besides that, I had not seen him playing with them. As I removed every large piece of trash and was getting down to only the food, I started praying. God PLEASE help me find these keys! Where could they be? I knew I was going to come across them in the trash, but I just wasn't finding them and I wanted to find them sooner than later. Mostly to say "See, I told you so!" After going through both bags, there were no keys. It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears. I stood up, took the gloves off and just thought for a moment, all the while praying that God would put the keys in my hand. I hoped that somebody would walk in and tell me that they found them on the floor somewhere in Applebee's. No such luck.
I wasn't ready to face John. I didn't know what else to do. What else could I do? I couldn't make them magically appear. We were stuck at Applebee's for the rest of our lives! I looked at Eric who had been watching me dig through the trash. "Baby, do you have mommy's keys?" "No." He patted his pockets and shook his head.
This is how I know God answers prayers.
Eric said no. He patted his pockets and there was no sound. I STILL reached into the first pocket. There was something about the fact that he patted his pockets that seemed strange. Why would he pat his pockets when I asked him for my keys? Still no keys. Of course not. I reached into the second pocket. There was something there! I pulled it out. My keys!!!!!
Feeling a rush of relief, frustration, anger, exhaustion, thankfulness, and embarassment, I headed out the door to give John the keys to put the boys in the van while I returned to express my sincerest apologies to the Applebee's staff. We made it home after all.
The Applebee's staff has a story for the books now.
We are never eating out again.
I am making a copy of the van key THIS week.
Oh. And I have an adorable little 3 year old boy for sale.