We were at a restaurant recently and as usual we had the kids in tow. Some strangers came up to us from a nearby table and commented that they were impressed by how well our kids were behaved! Of course, my son through his ice cream at the one lady while my daughter jumped up and smacked the other one in the face.....(JUST JOKING!). But, hey, what parent doesn't want to hear a compliment like that! What these ladies didn't know is that my husband and I come well prepared to keep the little ones busy. Because, to be fair, you're asking the kids to sit generally still and behave properly for quite a long period.
Unlike my brother-in-law, who proudly announced that he couldn't handle the stress of taking his kids to restaurants when they were young - as so he didn't! we like to take our kids with us .... most of the time. But, like any little journey with the kids, it pays to be prepared. Most restaurants (we're not talking fast food chains) usually give a little something for the kids - but our kids are far to used to the old crayon and puzzle/drawing - and as it happens this doesn't last long.
So, usually, before we step out of the house we ask the kids to get something small from their rooms to keep them occupied - this often means a little doll for our daughter and something like a small puzzle or Lego thingy for our son to reconfigure. But, like all good intentions, things can go wrong. So, a back-up plan is needed - and what better thing than some old fashioned game playing. And, for this, you don't have to have a lot of the material on hand - just a pen, some paper, and an imagination.
We like to play games like 3-way tic-tac-toe (did you know that tic-tac-toe can possibly be traced back to the Romans?), that game where you have a whole paper full of dots and take turns trying to make squares to put your initial in (oh what's the name of this game???), and exquisite corpse (this little game apparently introduced to us by the Surrealists - of course, at this stage we use a different phrase with the kids so as not to freak them out prematurely... though my son loves the name of course!). You'd be surprised what a little game like this can do for the proper behavior at the dinner table.
Our friend Sara C in Northern California introduced to us another little game with pen/pencil (and a scratch of paper) the other day. And, our kids have taken to it like crazy. We like this game, along with the exquisite corpse, because the imagination can run wild. It goes like this: the parent makes a mark (or two) to begin with, and then the child is to try and make a face (or other fantastical object in our case) from that. The pictures are a little poor, but Sara only had use of her phone camera in poor light! Sara's daughter Eloise is getting closer to her teens, so the drawings are capable of being that much more sophisticated. With our kids being younger though, we'll take what we can get!
The point is, though, whatever their drawing - the outcome is creativity and distraction. A few moments of our time getting the kids started at the dinner table is going to hurt - and allows for alot more time on our end to talk and enjoy a glass (or two) of wine! Anyway, we like having our kids with us..... it's all part of the FUN! Thanks Sara - much appreciated!!!
If you guys have any other suggestions for kids at the restaurant dinner table.... and we want to hear it all! so send us anything!