Imagine this. You’re hungry. And really really really don’t feel like cooking. But you’ve got young children (number here doesn’t matter, just that they’re younger than considered old enough to behave appropriately in public on their own accord). You could (not that I’ve ever ever ever done this) have cereal for dinner. You could order pizza/takeout/delivery. Or you could go to a restaurant.
Sure, it won’t always be perfect. Sometimes you might show up and they only have one or two high chairs. It’s possible to improvise, or be patient, or, yes, you could go somewhere else. But it’s manageable.
Sometimes? You might have to consider asking them to just box the food and take it to-go, because the waiter didn’t realize that when you asked for the kids’ drinks and food ASAP, you didn’t mean 20 minutes later, scalding hot, with no cold plates in sight. Upside? Chugging beer for the first time since college.
Sometimes? You might get through the meal, the waiter is taking too long to bring the check, and one parent takes the kids out to the car and gets them buckled while the other patiently waits.
Sure, you might have to put a little more than your usual 20% tip for good service because while the service wasn’t the best you’ve ever had, your children’s food all over the floor and mashed in between seats calls for a little extra.
Note: I am not saying you have to, but I always try to pick up at least a little bit (or until someone sees me and tells me to stop). It’s just the nice thing to do especially on the messiest of days.
And sometimes? They will astound you. Dinner the other night, we sat down at a nice table. They played quietly with their forks. Drank their water without spilling too much. Ate their food. We had polite conversation (albeit a little loud once in a while). And then we walked out of there with brother and sister holding hands like civilized people.
And you might have to
bribe coerce guide them with sweedish fish to get them to follow you back to the car rather than diving off the wharf to swim with the sea lions.
Some times will be epic failures, but you’ll get better at it. And they will. And it’ll be great! Start early. Start often. They’ll learn quickly (probably quicker than you will) and some day when you’re just not up for cooking the thought of braving public for dinner won’t seem worse than cooking does.