Friday, August 8, 2008

A dinner I'd like to forget

Our first night out to dinner after Ryan was born was a day I'd actually like to forget. Every time I think about going out to eat the details of this event creep back into my brain and shouts out a bright red flashing warning. This usually serves its purpose and we order a pizza instead of going out.

Ryan was about 6 weeks old and we were all out running errands and came across an Olive Garden. It was about 3 p.m. Most restaurants are empty at this time so my kids don't have anyone to interrupt. Anyway, we got into the restaurant and the place was packed. There were probably 50 people waiting for a table. Since Jon and I skipped lunch, we decided to suck it up and wait for a table. After about a 30 minute wait, we were ushered to our table. Sophia was already pretty tired having just spent the last 30 minutes entertaining Olive Garden guests.
In an attempt to appease her as quickly as possible, the first thing I did was order her a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. I figured the sooner I could get her food the better things would be. Not so. When her food came out, she decided she didn't like spaghetti and threw it on the floor and across the table.

Crayons were her meal of choice and she was not interested in sitting at the table.

The god-sent waiter suggested ice cream. Super, if she would shut up and stay seated, it was totally OK for her to have ice cream for dinner. Besides, by this point, Ryan was awake and in need of a bottle. And a diaper change. And he thought it would be totally awesome if he screamed for like the next 45 minutes.

Sophia's ice cream arrived at the table along with our dinner. It was a failure. The crayons were still more appealing. Jon took the crayons off the table and Sophia started screaming. I felt like I would die. I simply could not deal with it any longer. I was sweating and anxious to leave. Jon and I packed up the food and baby gear, left the waiter a decent tip and ran out of the restaurant vowing never to return.

Since then, we've created a couple of guidelines that, for the most part, ensure a good meal. First is always order a strong drink as soon as we sit down. You know, to help calm the nerves. Next is never go to the Olive Garden. It's always packed, no matter what time of day it is and the wait will always be a little too long for the kids.

OK, seriously, here are our guidelines that sometimes allow us to eat out.

We only go out to dinner when we are sure no one else will be there. We prefer the 3 to 4 p.m. time, affectionately called "old people dinner time." For some reason, we've found that many elderly couples go out to eat at this time and they often don't mind the kids as much as younger people do. They sometimes even provide entertainment by waving and talking to the kids. This time is also good because the kids have usually had their naps so they start out in a decent mood.

For Ryan, we make sure there is always food or drink in front of him. Once he's in that high chair he's in eating mode, so meals out start with Cheerios and end with whatever Mommy and Daddy are eating.

For Sophia, we make sure she is entertained. If we can sit next to a window with a view, she will people watch. She's (mostly) grown out of the eating crayon phase, so coloring is also a really great distraction. And, when all else fails, we let them play with the silverware.
Beyond those guidelines, the rest if left up to chance.

This post was written for Parent Bloggers Network as part of a sweepstakes sponsored by Burger King Corp.


Jen said...

I have a great tip to make your dining out experience even more enjoyable--get a sitter. ;)

Scooter Kitten said...

Was she really trying to eat the crayons?

Diane said...

Scooter kitten: Oh yeah, didn't you know crayons are a delicacy among children. Seriously, I had no idea either until I experienced it myself.

Vicky said...

We eat out at the old people time with the kids too. They don't seem to mind the kids staring while the eat either.

Kelley said...

It was years before we took the kids anywhere but Mickey D's and Pizza Hut!

Glad you have a plan :)

Stephanie, Mama Dramatist said...

Oi vey, but I SO can relate!! Anything -- well, almost anything -- to keep them contained and quiet!! It's exhausting!!

IRISHKAT said...

Oh yes, I remember some of those dinners well. We have a few select that we take the boys too - they are loud and family friendly. Otherwise it is SOOO not worth a night out!