My girls and I met my husband for lunch the other day. They were both home from school and I thought it’d be a fun treat to meet Daddy for a nice sit-down at a restaurant. I suppose my motherhood amnesia made me forget that damn near every time we eat out (anywhere) it is nothing short of a debacle.
We can usually expect one or both children to whine. We often hear, “I’m bored” or “this food is taking forever.”
We can expect some type of mishap, whether someone spills a drink or one of them orders mac n’ cheese but it’s not the mac n’ cheese they are used to. So they just stare at it and say “I’m full.”
We can always expect that both of us will start eating our food, cold. Even when our food makes it to the table, we are still cutting their food up or blowing on it, because, you guessed it, “IT’S TOO HOT!”
By the time we do start to try to enjoy our own food, they are either done eating or are getting antsy. The type of antsy where colouring on the single sheet of colouring paper the hostess gave them has already lost their attention. Antsy where they try to crawl under the table and hide.
The type antsy where they get louder, and LouDER, and LOUDER until I feel my body start to heat up and I just want to explode. Because all I want to do is to enjoy the food laid out in front of me that someone else prepared. I just want that simple little thing. And the kids don’t give a damn. And they will not let me have it.
For the life of me, I wonder – when will it get easier? When will we be able to go places without some type of craziness? Restaurants, stores, the movies, wherever. My kids seem to always be ruthless and reckless. And I always scold them and reprimand them for inappropriate behaviour. I know it is not good to compare your children, but dang… my kids are those kids other people stare at and totally judge me as a mum. Because I can read body language and facial expressions like it’s my job.
My oldest is 7 and my little one will be 4 next month. I understand we cannot expect “perfect” behaviour from young kids. But, I think if I tell them that we cannot go out to eat unless they act civilized, they’d eventually pick up on social behaviours. Like, yeah, we don’t shout in restaurants. And, we don’t dance in aisles and do cartwheels because we might kick someone in the face.
It sucks because I see other kids behaving and I don’t know what the parents are doing to keep the kids in check. I want to know the secret, I do. And it’s not having a device in hand, because we bring those, too.
My kids are often, often punished for bad behaviour like fighting with each other, talking back, or just screaming in public places. Because come on, that is just unacceptable. And on the flip-side, I reward them for their good behaviour. I know all about positive reinforcement benefits. I honestly just think my kids are more excited, more hyper than other kids. They are always moving. They are always talking. They are always fighting. God, they are always fighting.
So with that, and with my last attempt at trying to eat out in a civilized manner, I am done. I am aware kids will be kids. I am also aware that eating at home versus eating out has an equal measure (least for us).
Eating out does not give me a break. Sure, I don’t have to cook or clean, but I still don’t get to relax and enjoy my food. And I am paying hard-earned money for that service. I think it’s best to just stick to the norm and eat at home seven out of seven days of the week. Because I’d rather save that money for new shoes.
And when I am in my own home, I can unleash my inner mum beast and not feel like the entire restaurant is going to call the cops on me for telling my daughter she is acting like a brat. I can tell my kids they are acting like jerks but can do so in the confines of our crazy home. I can also prepare a second dish for my picky daughter and know she’ll eat it, without wasting $10.
So, yeah. While I would love to eat out more and make fun memories. The fun + memories are going to have to wait until my kids are in double-digit ages. I mean, it should ease up by then…
For now, we’ll just fine dine in the madness of our own home. Or go to McDonald’s. Because McDonald’s is quick, cheap, and I know they will eat it.