My husband and I were feeling pretty smug about pulling off the vacation surprise for our children. A few moments after the reveal and as we waited in line for the gates to open for Islands of Adventure, Chase commented, “I can’t believe that I didn’t catch on to what you and dad had planned. I mean, I understand Chandler and Mary Mac not understanding– ‘cause they’re younger and all – but I should have figured it out. Why didn’t I get it?”
I looked at his eleven year old face, so mature looking yet still so innocent, remembering the astonishment I felt when I first found out about him, the day that the pregnancy test stick positively defined the line of mommyhood as before and after. From that moment, nothing would ever be the same again, a welcome change in stage that would catapult John and I both blindly into parenthood.
The pure joy of discovering I was pregnant was hard to contain. I wanted to immediately phone my husband at work to share the long awaited news but knew that he deserved the same wonder of surprise I had just experienced.
So, as a plan began to form in my mind, I called a local restaurant, explained what I was considering and asked if they would participate in it’s implementation. More than happy to oblige, a time was set for the baby revelation, and the staff prepared for our arrival.
It wasn’t difficult to convince my husband to go out to dinner. At the time, my culinary skills were somewhat inadequate, often relying on the smoke alarm as a kitchen timer. Also, since we were childless, we had more time and economics than thriftiness and good sense.
Arriving at the restaurant, the hostess led us to our table with a smile and concealed wink. My heart beat nervously as I waited for the events to unfold, praying that the waiter would deliver his lines in a convincing manner that would lead the dad-to-be down the path to all things paternal. The waiter did not disappoint.
“Good evening. My name is Matt and I will be your server tonight. May I bring you something to drink?”
John and I placed our orders and then the waiter continued, “Would you like to hear about our specials?”
“We’d love to!” I agreed all too eagerly. It is was with good reason I chose to participate in high school athletics rather than the performing arts.
“Okay,” replied Matt, the well-rehearsed waiter, “The appetizer special tonight is BABY spinach baked with brie. Our salad of the night is BABY greens, tossed together with marinated BABY corn and BABY carrots. This comes with our house vinaigrette. And, finally, our offering for the main course is BABY back ribs served with a side of BABY potatoes.”
The waiter paused a bit as I grinned widely at John, about to jump out of my newly pregnant skin with the exciting news. The silence proved to be too much for my husband who awkwardly said, “Okay, thanks. Give us a few moments to look over the menu.”
Mouth slightly agape, the waiter glanced at me incredulously before walking towards the kitchen, images of a well-deserved Oscar exploding to pieces in his head.
John perused the menu, totally oblivious to the many baby references, a stomach that rumbled taking precedence over a head that comprehended. Luckily, plan B was fortuitously in place in the event neurons weren’t firing like they were supposed to.
A few moments later, Matt returned to the table with our drinks. He placed a red herring glass of wine in front me and placed a beer in front of John. The beer had been poured into a plastic baby bottle minus the screw-on nipple, the number of ounces displayed clearly on the side, with the foam of the beverage topping out at eight.
Again, the waiter paused a bit.
Reluctantly, the waiter walked away with slumped shoulders, sadly believing that his performance had been subpar. Once out of earshot, my husband whispered to me, “I’m surprised that a restaurant as nice as this would serve beer in plastic rather than glass. They really need to reconsider this.”
All I could do was stare at him in response.
The words baby spinach, baby greens, baby corn , and baby back ribs reverberated in my mind as I sat in silence. Sentences would not form.
“What’s wrong?” John asked, as I looked at him with eyes as glazed as the baby carrots.
He continued,” Do you think it’s okay to serve beer in plastic? Am I being unreasonable?”
“Look.....closer,” I finally managed in a voice that sounded distant and unfamiliar.
“I don’t understand what you mean,” John said as he held up the bottle in front of him.
And that’s when the fog cleared, the light bulb went off, and the events of the last fifteen minutes crashed down on my unsuspecting spouse in all understanding and awe and disbelief.
“ARE. YOU. SERIOUS. Are you serious?!!” he exclaimed, a smile spreading across the handsome face I loved so much. “I’m going to be a dad? I’m going to be a dad,” John acknowledged more firmly. And that’s when he promptly told me to hand over the glass of wine.
While not exactly the way I had planned, the moment of surprise could not have been more idyllic or complete, a perfect beginning to our next adventure.
The memories flooded over me as I looked at Chase as he waited for me to provide the answer of how so many clues could have been missed about our vacation, how he could have overlooked the obvious.
“Three letters for you,” I finally answered. “DNA.”
And we walked through the theme park gates together to begin our next adventure.