Six years ago this month, Bill returned from a year long deployment to Kosovo. He took off for about a month, and we went on a vacation to Disney World, which is just about the stupidest thing to do. The stress of his return and the stress of traveling with 4 children under the age of 6 combined to make for a terrible time.
If you ask the kids, it was the best trip ever. They don’t know that I called about an early return every day, but the additional cost kept me from doing it.
One thing we learned was that our children were incapable of behaving in restaurants. This is not a good thing to discover when you are spending a week in a hotel room with no kitchen.
Upon our return home, we instituted a no-restaurant policy for at least 6 months. It might even have been a year. I know we moved a year later, and I know we ate out. That may have been when we finally let them see the inside of a McDonald’s. Then we tried a place like Denny’s. They liked eating in restaurants, so they were motivated to be good.
Fast forward to this vacation, which intentionally was low-key and in a cottage with a kitchen. Eating out is now pretty expensive for our crew, and in this resort town we’ve noticed that restaurants automatically add 18% gratuity for parties of 8 or more. I have enjoyed our quiet and simple meals in this cottage, but we did budget for a few meals out, mostly at the beginning of our trip, but also last night, our final evening here.
Every time we have eaten out this trip, the children have been very well behaved. Mary, of course, stands on her seat and squirms around. And we do have to remind them all to talk quietly, even though adults in restaurants can be pretty loud. But they’ve been good. And they’ve been noticed. Every single time we have eaten out, at least one elderly person has stopped by our table to praise them. Last night, we had two.
I reminded Bill about our no eating out policy of 6 years ago. And before bed, I gathered the children to tell them how wonderful they’ve been. They’ve come a long way.
We've (mostly!) gotten there too. It's so nice to be able to do those things every once in awhile – although we do have to budget carefully! But it's a good feeling to head out to eat and not be stressed BEFORE you even get there about their behavior. Now, we're just working on SOME people at Mass….!! 🙂
When we are up in Maine I take the kids to Dysarts Restaurant at least once every 2 weeks. One the food is cheap (its a truck stop restaurant), and second I always get 4 complements on the kid's behavior. I do occassionaly bribe them, “If someone tells me how good you'all are, then I'll buy you dessert.”
It's great to see that there are other parents out there who make sure their children are well behaved a restaurants. We eat out frequently and have since our girls were infants. Eating quietly and waiting patiently for their food is a must. I don't like sitting near loud or ill behaved children [or adults] when we eat out, so I certainly don't want my kids to behave like that. (My kids don't hesitate to quietly point out disruptive children and adults when we dine out.)
My kids get complimented frequently. I love it when we sit down next to adults who look incredibly annoyed that kids are now sitting next to them. They're always the ones to come up to us either at the end of their meal or in the middle of theirs to tell us how impressed they were with how quiet and polite our children are. You just know they expected their dining experience to be a nightmare when the kids came in, and instead they got to sit next to a quiet table. I only wish their behavior in our own kitchen was as quiet and civilized as it is when we eat out.
That's how we raised our kids, so we're one of the ones who complement well-behaved families.
Be happy you have Street Angels & not House Angels! I've seen the reverse and it's not pretty!
(Bill, Remember that friend of David's that broke his arm climbing over the fence at Manville High. His mother never believed any of the stuff he did because he was an angel at home.)
At the risk of sounding like a very lame Catholic, we instituted a “no Mass” policy for a few of our children during those very difficult years of having 4 under 6. Guess what? They all got it around 4 or 5 and were reverent, able to sit through Mass without eating or getting up to use the bathroom, or talking. Sometimes I think we shoot ourselves in the foot despite our best efforts. Age and maturity are highly underrated!