Monday, January 19, 2009

Eating out in the company of kids

On Friday night, we tried something new -- we took the kids out to a restaurant for dinner.

Now, it's not like either of them had never been to a restaurant. Alex has been out for lunch with me a handful of times, as had Austin when he was the baby. But that doesn't really count, because the baby just sits (or sleeps) in the stroller or the Bumbo chair while the adults eat.

The last time we had tried to take Austin out for dinner, he was 18 months old. He was very well-behaved, but it wasn't exactly a relaxing dinner. In fact, we were quite thankful that the place we were at had a garden off the back patio where we took turns wandering around with Austin while waiting for our food and while we took turns eating.

But now that Austin's almost 3, we thought it would be a good idea to introduce him to the idea of ordering food and having to sit patiently until it arrives. It's a good skill for children to learn. And, recently, I met my parents and sister for lunch with both kids and it went quite smoothly.

But at that lunch, the ratio of adults to children was four to two. And lunch can be very different than dinner -- mainly because dinner is usually busier and it's closer to bedtime, meaning it ups the ante of having tired and cranky kids.

But we decided to go for it. I packed a bunch of toys for each kid, food and a bottle for Alex, an emergency snack for Austin (in case the food took too long) and we headed off to a kid-friendly restaurant -- Jack Astor's.

The whole dinner went perfectly. Austin was well-behaved, loved the idea that he could order a pizza by himself and colour on the table with crayons while he waited. Alex on the other hand was too busy flirting with the people next to us to pay attention to eating all her dinner. But, no matter, she barely made a peep the hour and a bit we were there.

In fact, it went so well that Ryan and I even managed to sit and enjoy a pint of beer with our burgers. Maybe next time we'll brave it and try a restaurant a step-up from burgers and beer.

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