Tonight I took the girls to dinner at a restaurant by myself. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I just didn’t want to cook a meal at home and clean up after it, so I talked to Ellie and Piper about it advance and they were in a good place. Ellie is at the age where she can relatively behave herself, minus the fact that she still feels the need to yell everything she says, a la her uncle Chad – love you Chad! We went to the local Mexican restaurant we’ve been to many times because that’s where they said they wanted to go. Overall, it was just fine – I can’t complain. But the whole experience got me thinking – why don’t they have a playbook for servers for handling tables with young kids? I know we’re not the only ones – I see them everywhere we go. Normally parents aren’t brave or dumb enough to go by themselves with two kids under four, but I think there some tactics servers could use to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone, including themselves. I want to make sure to include the fact that I served tables for many years, basically from when I was 18 to somewhere around 23 or 24, so I get it. No one ever told me back them what to do when I get parents with young kids in. I wish I would have had some sort of training or playbook for those types of situations. If I were to make one, it would go a little something like this:
- Bring a stack of napkins pronto
- If there’s a kid under 1 or 1 and a half, bring a spoon and a straw for them to play with – a paper or plastic cup with ice cubes isn’t a bad idea either
- Remove the condiment section altogether – let me know you’re doing it and that you’re happy to leave anything I need
- Have something at the table for the kids to munch on as soon as possible – Mexican restaurants are good at this
- It’s ok to talk to the kids – they have voices and can speak
- Fill their drink cup half full – I have yet to encounter a restaurant with kids cups that are too small
- Don’t set a sharp knife or a scalding hot plate right in front of my child, not to mention my glass of wine or cocktail – it will only result in more work for you
- If there are toys or coloring things or anything else around to keep their attention, bring it. We went to an Italian restaurant recently that brought a little thing of pizza dough for the girls to play with – effing brilliant!
That’s it. I think most of these things are relatively easy, especially if it’s a slow night, which it usually is when us parents come to dine at an ungodly early hour. Like I said, I’ve been in your shoes you hard working servers – this just might help you survive my toddlers a little easier and would almost certainly result in more dinero in your pocket.
Brian and I are currently somewhere over Illinois, coming back on our last leg from our trip to Italy…sans Ellie! It was a thoroughly brave adventure for us. In theory when planning the trip we knew it was a healthy thing to do, both for Ellie and us. As the trip date arrived though, we started to get really sad at the prospect of being so far away from her for so long.
The things that made the trip a little easier are two-fold:
1. Tutu and Grandy stayed at our house the whole time and played with her non-stop. She had such a great time and was so happy. We actually wondered a bit if she even noticed we were gone!
2. FaceTime! Brian had his phone on, but turned data off and when we got wifi we were able to FaceTime my mom and talk to them and Ellie for a bit. It was so awesome to see her and hear her say non-stop “mommy” and “daddy.” It made us miss her even more, but I think it made her feel good to connect with us and know we we’re just somewhere else.
Before the trip for a couple of weeks I was talking to Ellie about what a vacation is and that mommy and daddy were going to go on a vacation and she was going to hang out with Tutu and Grandy while we were gone. I know communication is not 100% confirmed at this point in her life, but I truly think it helped quite a bit.
We’ll see how she feels when we get back and that will be the real measure of success. Last time when we went away for three days she seemed a little upset when we got back. Hopefully this time she’s not too mad at us.
Likely needless to say, our adult vacation in Italy was truly wonderful and relaxing. We didn’t plan anything out really, just kind of played it by ear. We spent the bulk of our time in Cortona, a small town in Tuscany, just outside of Perugia. It was a beautiful town with quite a few restaurants and shops. We did a fair amount of walking/hiking up the hills, which felt really good. It also felt a little breath-taking (literally), which made sense when I read my What To Expect update; it was all about how baby is squishing my lungs now and I’m likely to experience a shortness of breath. Si, de accordo.
I haven’t been around that much cigarette smoke since frequenting Belltown Billiards when I was 22. I haven’t eaten that much gelato since we were in Italy last time and I haven’t had that much tomatoes, mozzarella and pasta in a long time either! Honestly though, out of the whole trip, the most regrettable meals were definitely the ones we had on the airplane ride back! I look forward to getting home and focusing back on fruits and veggies for the rest of the pregnancy.
Here’s a pick of #2 at 30 weeks with the beautiful Cortona valley in the background:
Ellie has been doing the craziest thing lately when we feed her solids. Maybe she has a competitive eater career in her future!