Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Eating Out

Why do I continue to trick myself into believing that taking children out to a restaurant would make for a nice family outing?  I remember being young and going out to eat...watching other children misbehave in restaurants.  I always thought, "my children will have better manners."  I was going to raise my children to behave better than that.  This, of course, would infer that a child has the capacity to not only learn how to behave...but to have the will and desire to do so.  This also infers that a parent actually has control over said child.  A laughable notion, anyone can attest to who has ever had to leave a grocery store mid-shopping to carry a screaming toddler out (sometimes in a football hold so as to avoid getting kicked.)  Or whose face has turned several shades of red as his or her child innocently asks why the stranger next to them (insert embarrassing question regarding stranger's physical appearance and/or odor.) 

We always seem to create situations for ourselves where we are out running errands at the wrong time.  Sometimes it is because it took much longer to get ready and leave the house than we initially planned.  Sometimes it's an impulsive decision based on the fact that we just really need to get out of the house.  Sometimes the errand just ran longer than planned (because we had to carry a screaming toddler out of a store and sit in the van while the other parent finished the shopping.)  Whatever the reason...we inevitably find ourselves far from home at dinnertime.  Such was the case a few days ago...and so we decided to stop at Red Robin...a family-friendly restaurant where we could sit down with the three little ones.  It was close to Irelynn's birthday, so I even tipped the waitress off that we had a soon-to-be 4-year-old dining with us that night.

It started off okay...Owen was entertained with my phone.  Connor was behaving.  Irelynn was...well, she was having issues with the booster seat, which she thought was funny, but other than that, she was okay.  Then it started going downhill.  She refused to eat the corndog she ordered.  Owen spilled lemonade all over himself.  Irelynn lost her shoes under the table, which I did not discover until I ran her to the restroom when she said she had to go...and she was in her socks.  Owen wanted to play with the skewers that the chicken came on...I took them away, prompting a temper tantrum which ended with him screaming and throwing his ketchup-covered chicken bits at me....leaving my white shirt with nice bright ketchup stains all over it.  Then...the staff surrounded our table to sing their birthday song to Irelynn and give her balloons and a huge ice cream sundae. 

Why do we continue to do this to ourselves? 

I do know that when my children are grown, and I am actually able to have a civilized dinner out somewhere, I will certainly have a new perspective on things. If I see a mother or father struggling with a child in a restaurant, I will smile warmly and know that they are doing the best that they can. 

In the meantime...I think I will wait a few months before trying to eat out again.  There is no shame in frozen pizza.  Well, no publicly visible shame, anyway...

No comments:

Post a Comment