Sunday, March 6, 2011

Date Night, Lesson Learned

After running the 10K yesterday (still kinda in shock about it), Jeff and I thought it would be nice to really celebrate my accomplishment with a nice dinner out at a restaurant we reserve for a special treat: Volcano Japanese Steakhouse.

First, you need to understand a little more about how the day went yesterday after the race.

I came home, made lunch for the kids, got an awesome shower, Jeff and his friend went out for a bit, the kids and I went shopping for a friend's birthday present, we picked Jeff up at home and headed to the party. The birthday party was at a gymnastics facility so the kids spent about 90 minutes being extremely active.

Someday I might be willing to share the trauma I experienced when I was sucked into the foam pit in an effort to save my son. Thankfully, there were a few heroes around who were able to save me from the sarlacc pit.

So after the party, it's dinner time. They had eaten a little at the party- pizza and cake. But they'd pretty much burned it off instantly. Both claimed to be hungry when we left.

Jeff and I thought a dinner at Volcano would be a great way to end the day.

Except that the kids started complaining. They don't like Volcano, they don't like the fire (it's a hibachi place), etc. We walked in and had to wait for just a moment and that's when the whining started. I looked at Jeff and told him that we needed to just go because they weren't going to make this an enjoyable experience.

So we left before getting seated.

Jeff and I were not happy and we let the kids know it in as appropriate a way as possible. Although, why I think lecturing at a 6 and 3 year old is a good idea, I'll never know.

But I did get through to Teagan once we were home when I explained that Mommy had done something special that morning, something that was a lot of hard work, something that Mommy had been practicing for for a long time, and now Mommy was tired and sore and just wanted to sit and relax and have fun with her family and that the kids had made that impossible so now Mommy was very disappointed. Her complaining and whining pretty much stopped after that.

Thankfully, I have a friend named Christy who was too tired to go out but was willing to come hangout at our house and use my computer after my kids went to bed so that Jeff and I could go enjoy dinner.

Off we went- back to Volcano.

We wait a few minutes for a hibachi to open up. We're seated and order drinks. I order a sushi roll. She brings us our soup. I order a glass of wine. Another couple gets seated at our hibachi at the other side. They order.

Then Jeff and I see a family of 4 about to walk in... With a little girl about Teagan's age and a little boy younger than Zach.

The dread in my stomach, the crestfall, the disappointment... we just knew that they would be seated at the last 4 seat at out hibachi. I tried to hold to some hope- that maybe since we'd all ordered, they'd go ahead and put them at their own table. But no- they were seated in the 4 seats on the long side of our hibachi.

Jeff and I put on our best faces- tried to anyway. But we had come there to escape little kids. We had come there to escape any and all whining and tears. The very last thing in the entire world that we wanted was to be around small children. Had these kids been a bit older, we wouldn't have cared.

The end of the story is that we were still able to enjoy our dinner and experience. Yes, there were frustrations. When the waitress asked the other couple if they minded that this family had been seated with them but didn't bother to ask us- and we were the ones who minded. When our food got delayed because the waitress now had to get this family's order in so we could all have our food cooked together. When there was a moment of a whine. When the hibachi chef was concerned about the kids being afraid of the fire but not being concerned about the adults who were there to see the fire. When the inevitable dinner table shuffle kept happening- you know how you go out to eat with little kids and they can't ever stay in one seat and they constantly want to be with the other parent or adult?

They were a nice family. We did all end up chatting after the hibachi hood was turned off and I did play some crazy fun games of peek a boo with the little boy. The little girl and I talked for a bit, the mom and I talked for a bit, the other couple was part of the conversation. It was still enjoyable and pleasant.

I learned something, though. I need to really be more aware of our kids when we eat out. I think we generally do a great job of teaching our kids appropriate restaurant manners and keeping them mindful of the experience of others in the restaurant. We also choose to try to eat out earlier in the evening- because that's our dinner time, because our kids go to bed early so that they will get the needed 10+ hours of sleep at night, because most restaurants are serving a lot of younger families earlier in the evening, etc. But those times that we do eat out a bit later, those times that we are aware of people in our vicinity who might not enjoy the antics of a 3 year old, those times that we are outside of our normal routine- I want to make certain that no one else's experience is declined or negatively impacted because we choose to bring our kids out.

There are times that kids have a hard time. And the only way kids can learn to eat in a restaurant nicely is to take them to restaurants. But when my kid is acting up, I take them out. I used to be really good at bringing things to keep them quietly entertained and I need to get better at that again. And I want to make sure that the restaurant never makes a concession for our kids that will lessen the experience of those around us.

I left that restaurant content and relaxed and connected to my husband. That's what I went there seeking. I didn't expect the important lesson about kids. I have a lot of childless by choice friends and I used to be highly cognizant of having my kids in situations where those who don't have kids could be annoyed by the presence of children who make themselves loudly known. Last night served the purpose of celebrating my run, relaxing my mind and body, filling my belly, and giving me an invaluable lesson to stay aware of our environment.



Call Me Cate said...

My husband and I don't have kids but we don't dislike them. We may even decide to try for a couple of our own someday soon. But we've become very specific in choosing when and where we go out to eat depending on the experience we desire. I like to think that most parents are like you - generally well-behaved children (they're ALL going to have their moments) and aware of appropriate behavior for given situations. And, really, that's all anyone can ask for.

I'm glad you ended up having a nice evening. It sounds like you aren't the only one who learned a valuable lesson - I think Teagan learned one as well.

kbiermom said...

Good for you -- taking a disappointing and difficult situation and still getting what you wanted out of it, and then some :)

At that age, my youngest was famous for hiding under the hibachi table during the fiery parts of the show :)

I would hope the restaurant could learn from your experience, too. I understand their needing to fill every table as full as possible, but IMO they ought to know that they could be doing a better job in seating appropriate table mates.

Garret said...

I dread having children around me at restaurants. Sorry, I really do. I'm glad you have in the past and in the future will actively make sure that your kids don't ruin what could be someone else's special or quiet evening.