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Rick and I are forever optimistic about going out to dinner with our four children.

By Sunday at 4:30 pm on a very cold February day, we could no longer take the mess, the chaos and Chase’s incessant whining. So we thought, “Let’s go out to dinner! Maybe the restaurant ambiance will get his mind off his misery. Kids love to be out and about.”

This reasoning, of course, makes no sense.  Because if you take a quick check of your Parenting 101 book, you’ll see on page 27 it clearly states, “The last place you want a tired, whiny toddler is in a restaurant. Do not attempt this.”

But our optimism isn’t squelched by a little reality.

Off we go.

32 minutes later, I learned the answer to the following question…

Q: How do you know when it’s time to leave a restaurant?

A: When your 21-month-old had dumped his head in the restaurant fountain.

Three times.

Yes. Three.

I tried to stop Chase after he did it the first time but my salmon sashimi was so delicious.  My reaction time may have been a bit slow.

I took this photo as soon as I got home – while his hair was still fountain fresh. I would have taken it at the restaurant but once your kid has screamed in his high chair until you’ve caved and taken him out, he’s tromped through the place and then dumped his head in a fountain multiple times, it’s best to vacate quickly.

So dinner didn’t exactly work out.

But next time. Oh my gosh next time, it’s going to be great. I just know it.

20 Responses to the dining optimists

  • I realized it was time to give up restaurant-dining-with-kids when my tips were getting up to 35-40% or so JUST TO APOLOGIZE to the staff. (My kids aren’t particularly messy, just … exuberant.) Plus I end up cringing when we’re seated next to a childless couple, wondering if perhaps they paid a babysitter good money so that they could have a peaceful dinner away from their own kids!

  • Lisa W. says:

    HaHa! we do this almost every Friday night. End of the week, everyone’s tired – Let’s go out to dinner! Then hubby and I sit there wondering why in the world we thought that would be a good idea and vow not to do it again. The next Friday, we usually do ti again!

  • Sandrine says:

    He totally had fun, look at his half smile!! kudos to you for taking the kids out. Even if it doesn’t go smoothly it’s still nice to go out…

  • Melissa says:

    This had me laughing out loud, in an extremely simpathetic way. We broke down and had not one but two cellphones in front of the 2 1/2 year old last week while celebrating my Mother in-laws birthday in a swanky restaurant that a child has no place being in. Cell service was bad so we figured if we tried to stream Mickey’s Clubhouse and Jake and the Neverland Pirates, one would always be working. Lucky for us there was no fountain in sight!

  • luvmypeanut says:

    I knew it was time to leave when mine peed his pants, while standing in line at the mongolian grill…waiting for his plate of food…..I pretended not to notice (as you do), we ate quickly and left……..

    I always believe the dinner experience will be great…..it usually isn’t….. *sigh*

  • Diane says:

    We’ll save this for more Mother of the Year data (joking – when my eldest – now 13 – was same age as Chase, she went full in at a Newport Beach fountain in the lunch hour rush. More fine parenting moments of mine…) But rest assured, the day when you can sip your cocktail AND enjoy your brood will soon be here. It only took my last one til she reached 5 before we could go out and with restaurant prices being what they are, you need a 2nd mortage to feed a family of 6 on the town. Cheers!

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    You are one set of parents I want to dump food on in a restaurant when I am eating and they have brought in their screaming, loud, annoying child to bother everyone else who are trying to enjoy the dinner experience WITHOUT THEIR CHILDREN. If you must take uncivilized children to dinner, there’s McDonald’s, Chuckee Cheese, and most pizza places or sports bars….where the noise is already deafening. A quiet Sushi restaurant is NOT THE PLACE. A pox on you…

  • Kerri says:

    Ah yes, memories! It does get better, I promise. We got to the point where I would go out with my 7 biological kids (one set of twins) and my 4 special needs foster children (included another set of twins), plus 3 other older kids & a 2 year old. Including me it was 16! (Dh was working hours away). They were awesome. It was not Chucky Cheese (still have not taken any of my kids there) or McD’s. This was a sit down (but family) restaurant. We have people stop at our table to compliment us on how awesome everyone is behaving, people even hand me nice notes. But that was after having to tromps outside, & leave my meal & stand in a parking lot with who ever was not sitting. It only took a few times before they figured out it is a lot more fun with the rest of us. We quietly play eye spy, colour, x’s & o’s, etc. Even the younger ones got wrapped up in it all. It also helps my kids LOVE food & eating out is a treat. If we know it is going to take a while, we will have fruit snacks before we go. Reservations are helpful with that many too, but often we don’t do so. We have certain places that know us now & the staff actually WANT to serve us! It does get better…yeah I know I already said that!

  • Lanie says:

    We had that same fountain problem recently except that Alyssa dumped water all over the floor. Luckily, none of the waitstaff tripped and fell -Alyssa was the one who did that too. Next time will be better for sure. xoxo

kelcey kintner