Ode to Toddler Restaurant Drama

The other day, a very strange thing happened during a family outing to a local restaurant.  
Very strange, actually.  
Our twin two-year-olds sat {in their own chairs} and ate {food off their own plateswith the rest of the family.  
I know, I know.  Gasp!
Now, to make this even more of a phenomenon, we had company in the form of grandparents and a close family friend.  Thus, this anomaly made us look like some sort of super parents as our children politely participated in meal time…occasionally even trying to use the odd, silver food-picker-upper thingy.  
I mean. It was odd.  Lovely.  But odd
At one point, about 2/3 of the way through the meal –  which I, too, was eating – and when I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, I leaned over to my husband and cautiously whispered…
Whose children are these?”  
He about spit out his food.  Clearly he was wondering the same thing.
You see, despite every effort on our part, this is not the norm.

Usually, our “norm” looks a little more frazzled, to say the least, with most of our time (44% according to this oh-too-true pie chart) spent wondering why we subjected ourselves to this family dining debacle in the first place.

Sure, we spend a good portion of the time looking around the dining room, nervously worrying about other diners trying to enjoy their food.  We once had a couple ask to be moved away from us…before they even sat down, mind you.  And, yes, we desperately try to keep the boys entertained until the food comes – tossing cereal pieces at them as if they are little birds, coloring with them (aka…trying to keep the crayons off the table, out of their mouths, and actually on the Kid’s Menu maze), or even pulling out a busy bag or two (although the favorite wait-time activity is still dumping and refilling the container of sugar packets…much the wait staff’s dismay, I’m sure).  
And, sure, we do probably spend about 20% of the time “fetching” the twins, bribing them to get into their chairs, and sometimes still even strapping them in (usually in protest).  Our latest brilliant parenting maneuver is to place one ominous and empty “little boy” chair at our table as a looming threat.  Beware any children who get out of their “big boy” seats…it’s the high chair for you! I know, I know; I’m quite sure that is not textbook Positive Parenting 101, but it works.  Sort of.
We even occasionally do get that 1% of time to eat our own {cold} food.  At least we can take the left overs home for lunch tomorrow, right?  
So really, why do we keep putting ourselves through this experiment?
For me, it is because of the dream. 
One day, surely, we’ll be able to go out as a family, talk to one another while we wait for the food to come, enjoy our meal, and go home all the richer for having spent a lovely evening together.  Right?  This will happen.  I’ve seen it happening to other families, usually while I’m hauling one of my fussing children out into the lobby or to the bathroom.  I once even spent most of the meal on the beach wave watching with one of my cranky cherubs just outside a beautiful seaside restaurant…oh, I bet  those crab legs would have been so delicious.  So, I know it is a real possibility.  

Please, let it be a real possibility.

Will it happen any sooner for us because we keep trying with them at a young age?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  This, obviously, remains to be seen.
For now, we’ll keep on tossing the cheerios and whispering apologies to fellow diners all while continuing to hope for some simple and relaxing (ha!) quality family time.  
A mother can dream…

Post shared with:  Mommy Brain Mixer, For the Kids Fridays



  1. hi there! here from the blog hop! You can find me at http://theresmagicoutthere.blogspot.com (new follower)

  2. Not quite sure how on earth we managed it but somehow this is the one place where we can completely rely on decent behaviour – much, much better than we ever get at home at meal times. Don’t know whether we did it enough early enough or just that littl’un loves people watching so much.

  3. Oh, How I completely understand! We do the animal cookie tossing, cheerio tossing, and coloring! Then….we attempt to let her feed herself, and if I’m lucky, I get to my food before it’s too cold! :) Ah…the joys of parenting!

  4. Why do we keep doing it?? It’s easier than trying to meal plan, grocery shop, cook, clean up, etc…HAHA

  5. You have given me hope that one day we will get to that stage with our almost 1 year old twins!!! http://kcmsfamily.wordpress.com/

  6. Hey Holli, stopping by from the GYB Blog hop! So glad I found your blog! That chart is ridiculously true!! I have a 2 1/2 year old and we have pretty much stopped going out to eat because he turns into this crazy kid that won’t sit still for even .2 seconds! We used to try going out but would sit there for half of the meal wondering what the heck we were thinking! I thought we were the only ones who went through this! Haha!

    Jenni @ dashofsun.blogspot.com

  7. We have 5 kids (I know. What were we thinking?) so we’re always looking for ways to keep them entertained when we go out. We download a lot of audiobooks. There’s plenty of sites where you can get them, but we use this site a lot because it’s free and all the stories are original. Here’s the link if anyone is interested. http://www.twirlygirlshop.com/stories-for-kids

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