5 Tips for Eating at Fine Dining Establishments with Children

by beagoodmom on May 17, 2007

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Last week, we had dinner at a nice steakhouse to celebrate Uncle J’s birthday. There were about 15 of us and the service was lousy, so it took FOREVER to complete the meal. The waiter dropped the bread baskets and did not bring us new ones. The 3 older kids (3 to 4 years old) were given water in sparkling goblets with ice, no plastic straw cups were available. There were no crayons and paper place mats to color. In attendance was T- Man (3), Baby Belaina (10 months), Pookie (4) and Geetle (4). Recipe for disaster. But, surprisingly, the kids all did great. We did not do any elaborate planning or defensive maneuvers to get through the meal, so I am not sure how we did it. But maybe it was one of these:

  1. We brought in a few books from the car. The books in the car have been read and re-read dozens of times, so the kids can “read” them independently.
  2. We let the kids drink from the fancy water glasses. Hey, Mr. Steakhouse owner, if there is a lesson to be learned here, it is for you. Since the kids never get to use glasses like that at home, they were distracted for quite awhile. Pookie went through at least two and a half glasses of water. We caught him fishing ice out of Grandma’s glass too.
  3. We sat the kids next to Grandma and Grandpa. That in itself was fun for the kids, and fun for Grandma and Grandpa, too. They talked about the books we had brought in. They talked about school and toys. The kids enjoyed pulling one over on Ol’ Mom and Dad, who supposedly did not see that Grandpa and Grandma were letting them eat giant pats of butter on tiny little crackers.
  4. We refrained from “entertaining” the kids. It was dinner, not a circus. They made their own fun (stacking crackers, pretending to play drums with the bread plate and knife, etc). If we had focused on constantly entertaining them, at some point, they would have figured out that if they needed that much entertaining, we must agree that the situation was pretty lousy and called for a angry outburst.
  5. We loosened up on the usual table rules. No one did anything outrageous, but I am sure someone blew bubbles in their water goblet.

So, we made it through. And we were all happy and proud.

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