My kids behaved almost like people at dinner

I don’t really like going out to eat with my kids, for a few reasons.  First and foremost is that they like totally different restaurants than I do.  While I’d rather go out for Mexican, or Italian, or Greek, their favorites are McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway.  And I like the food at all three of those (especially Subway), but I don’t really consider that going out to eat.  In fact I enjoy eating in those three places so little that we almost always take it home.

When I do want to go out and eat with a waitress and plates and non-plastic silverware, and I let the kids pick, it’s always Olive Garden.  Now, brace yourselves for my big confession, the thing that I hate to admit to all of my New York friends: I love The Olive Garden.  LOVE it.  Used to drag The Ass there all the time when we were dating (you know, back when he felt the need to do things he hated just to make me happy).  So I always jump at the chance to take them there.  But the one in Times Square is a tourist nightmare and the only other one anywhere near us is a half-hour drive away and always packed.  So going out to eat with them usually means a greasy diner where they can get grilled cheeses and their behavior is drowned out by a constantly ringing phone and the cooks yelling at the waiters.

And that’s the other reason I don’t like to go out to eat with them: their behavior.  It’s rarely terrible, but I often spend the majority of the time making threats in a quiet intense voice and distracting them from each other.  When they’re done eating they have no place to escape to like at home.  I refuse to let them play on my phone or read a book and am still waiting for that magical day when they’ll just sit there and be pleasant company.  That day was almost today.

We’d spent the entire day at South Street Seaport (talk about tourist nightmares!) at a really fun Kids Club 13 event.  We’d had a little bit of a walk from the subway since the closest station was closed, had been through the South Street Seaport Museum, had been all around the tall ship Peking twice, and were exhausted and starving by dinner time.  And I think that was the key, exhaustion.  They weren’t perfect, but they were pleasant.  Nobody tried to grab anybody else across the table.  The worst language used by anybody was one “hell” from Jake.  I only had to make a couple of threats.  At one point I did have to talk Jake out of burping (don’t know why he gave me warning).  And Fiona did flip an entire piece of cake onto the floor, but it was a complete accident, not caused by her being a spaz or bickering with her brother or anything.

We all talked about what our favorite parts of the day were, about missing friends over the summer, and about school starting in a few weeks.  And while even on her very best behavior Fiona is just way too loud, nobody around us looked annoyed.  And really, going out to eat at a semi-nice restaurant with a six-year-old and a nine-year-old, that’s the best I can hope for.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information. Amy also blogs at Filming In Brooklyn, Behind the Screen, and Momtourage.


  1. says

    “My kids behaved almost like people at dinner” — wow I wish I could steal that sentence! It caught my eye and so I’m here.

    I’m desperately waiting for THAT day. When my Sonny Boy won’t climb the table at a restaurant and throw noodles on the floor.

    I was dying to figure out how old your kids were when I came to the part where you mention them as six and nine! I seem to have a loong wait — my boy’s only two.

    But yes, I try to find these places to eat where it’ll be fairly empty (so the food isn’t great!) and where I’m sure there’s enough place to hide under the table when it’s my turn to be embarassed ;-)

  2. says

    @Forever Mother – You probably don’t have that long until they’ll behave. Jake went through a stage around two where we really couldn’t go out to eat with him because if he was within arm’s reach of a plate, he threw it. He thought it was the most fun thing ever and there was nothing we could do about it since most restaurants where we live don’t have enough room to push him back from the table.

    But once that stage was over, I developed tricks to get them to behave well enough for enough of the time to take them out with us and have a reasonably good time. This is a new thing, though. This wasn’t just them behaving, it was them actually being engaging dinner companions!

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