Year in Review: Restaurants in 2009

Eating out in restaurants with children is an adventure. I am getting better at doing it solo with the children, but it’s still not the way I would spend the majority of my meals. And not just because that would get expensive.

We have only had to leave a restaurant once altogether this year because of my girls’ bad behavior. They were just all-out crankified, and I didn’t want to deal with it let alone expose other diners to it.

But for the most part, 2009 has been a year of fun in restaurants. Flora and Kate both love Bocktown (and Flora thinks it’s better than a toy store!); I plan to keep Las Velas between my husband and me. We ate out a lot when we had the G-D fruit flies.

And then, there was the perfect solo-parenting dining experience, the best restaurant experience of 2009.


You know what kind of blog post I would love to stumble across?

A post about well-behaved children in a restaurant. And I don’t mean 10 and 11 year olds — I mean a post about a mom sitting with her almost 5-year-old and 2.5-year-old, and how very well behaved they were.

I would like this post to be written by a server in said restaurant, or by another patron, one there without children.

The post would extol the behavior of these two girls. It would describe how they sat in the booth, coloring (“What a smart mom, for bringing something for her children to do while they waited for their food,” this poster would write), drinking their lemonades without spilling them (“…and the restaurant did not have plastic kid glasses with lids! Just straws.”). Our observant, uh, observer would note that the children did not run around the restaurant. They did not scream, and when they got a little loud, how the mother leaned in and quietly reprimanded them, asking them to use their “inside voices.” And how well the children responded.

This on-looker would note other remarkable things, such as:

“Even though the wait for food was long, in toddler terms — about a half-hour for vegetable lo-mein and tofu with mixed vegetables — the children did not get out of hand. When the mom, a very striking red head who could not have been more than 32-years-old herself*, noticed her younger daughter getting bored with the coloring book, she pulled out her iPod® Shuffle™. She put one of the ear buds in the child’s ear, and the other in her own (no doubt to make sure the song was suitable listening for a little one).

“Her daughter was instantly fascinated. The older daughter wanted to listen, too, and walked to her mother’s side of the booth without fuss. The mother had her listen for a bit, but the girl was, eventually, more interested in going back to her own seat, and the book she had been ‘reading’ beforehand.

“I believe I overhead the mother tell the younger girl that she was listening to Coldplay’s ‘When I Ruled the World’. How nice to know that parents expose their children to more than toddler tunes or the tinkly sounds of classical music redone for babies.” [Little would this person know that the next song was Rihanna’s “Breaking Dishes”, which caused a little seated booty wriggling.]

And then the observer would exclaim over the fact that the girls ate their dinners with minimum fuss.

“When the food first came to the table, the older daughter balked at what the mom was calling ‘Chinese spaghetti’ (pretty and clever! what a lucky man her husband is). But the mother assured her that she did like it, and put some on her plate, along with rice and some broccoli from the tofu and mixed vegetables. The mom doled out similar amounts to the younger daughter, who also wanted some of that baby corn in the tofu dish. I think the younger daughter actually ate all the baby corn she could find!

“And after sampling some rice, both girls tried their ‘Chinese spaghetti’. The older girl’s eyes lit up. ‘Hey,’ she told her mother, ‘this is good! I love it!’ Both girls proceeded to have two more helpings of the lo-mein, plus rice and vegetables. Being more familiar with kids who won’t eat much more than hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and mac ‘n’ cheese, I was amazed at the adventurous palates of these two cutie pies!”

That’s the kind of thing I would like to see on-line. Instead of people bitching about how their dinner was ruined by rambunctious kids whose parents let them run rampant; instead of servers complaining about clueless and inattentive adults who let their kids get away with the equivalent of (in a busy server’s mind) murder.

But it’s like a-hole protesters or loudmouth, rude celebrities getting media attention. People don’t cover the good news, all the planes that land safely.

Which if you think about it, is encouraging. Maybe the ill-behaved kids are noteworthy but more rare. That way of thinking is probably either hopeful or naive, I know.

This is all a round-about, fanciful way of saying: My children were angels the other night when the three of us went out to dinner. And I hope someone other than me, their ridiculously proud mommy, noticed.

*Hey, it’s a fantasy.

See the comments here.

6 thoughts on “Year in Review: Restaurants in 2009

    • I think this is my best post of 2009. I don’t know; I have a couple of PSAs that rank high.

      This was definitely a high point for all three of us. I’m not sure the girls even noticed! Although I did praise them profusely afterwards.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Ciao, rpm

  1. You are noticed. My husband was a waiter for years and always came home to tell me about how some kids did so well- at Umi, Eleven, etc. Places you would never expect kids! He swore our kids would do the same. Time will tell!

    • It’s all about managing expectations with kids. You let them know what they are; be realistic; have a plan b; and hope they bring the check quickly!

      Thanks for the comment!

      Ciao, rpm

  2. I’m not a mother yet, but I’ve been a childcare provider for many years. I always notice well-behaved children. The especially well-mannered kids and their attentive, considerate parents stick with me.

    I was pushing my basket down a Wal-Mart aisle and a little boy (around 3?) was perusing the fish food across from his mother’s basket. She saw me coming and immediately reached out to gently pull him back to their side of the aisle, asking him to stay to the side when other people walked by. It was a very small thing, but something I really appreciated.

    I think if heaven exists, there’s a special place reserved for good parents!

    • See, now that’s a nice story to hear, too. One, that a little boy would be so well-behaved, and that a mom would be considerate enough to teach her little boy to be considerate, too. That’s what we really have to keep in mind: our goal as parents is to raise confident, responsible adults.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Ciao, rpm

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