Friday, January 17, 2014

Let's talk about Bringing Kids to Restaurants

Is this a military thing?  Since our direct experiences of military communities occur in regions we are otherwise unfamiliar with, sometimes we're not sure whether certain behaviors are examples of military culture, regional culture, rural livin', etc.  Or maybe this is just Velcro Generation Parenting? Like, just what people do now? I mean, using smartphones wasn't a thing in the place we lived BS (before soldier) but that was probably more the decade than the zip code.

PICTURE THIS: a Friday night at the end of a rough week. Somehow you and a favorite MilSpouse have managed to convince BOTH of your partners to go out to a restaurant together.

Goddamn are you looking forward to a relaxing evening of drinking, joking, and probably swearing.  All parties agree on a restaurant- and you think, shit, this is going to be expensive, but so worth it because last week you went to Chain Restaurant and it was like, filled with bored (loud) kids and their inconsiderate parents.

And then we entered the restaurant and before the appetizers were even served, much of the mythology we'd understood to be sacred about dinner in American brewpubs was shattered. 
Shattered, sneezed on, screamed at, publicly spanked, dipped in ketchup, and shattered.

1.  People won't take kids to a place like this.  Wrong.  If you go to a restaurant of any price range anywhere near a military post, there be kids.  Lots of them.  Maybe this isn't a military thing- we read today on Jezebel that a couple brought an 8-month-old to a 3-star restaurant.  Apparently they had a sitter emergency.  We're sure that was the case with some of our fellow diners. Actually, that is a lie. Unless there is some kinda Mary Poppins plague going around, it doesn't look like hiring a sitter crossed these folks' minds.

2.  A $75 steak goes best with a $30 sitter.  For now, let's just say that the restaurant we were in charged more for two salads (a lot more) than you'd have to spend on a sitter.  Um, that also means it cost more for the children's dinners than the charge for a whole evening of babysitting.

Note: this is a significant observation considering 99.9% of all recorded MilSpouse blogs focus on cost-cutting and household budgeting. We absolutely think MilFams do the math when it comes to nights out.

post scriptum: Children are expensive. We're heard it from experts. Oddly, even those of us with unused gametes are aware that people typically charge money to watch other people's children. IT IS STILL CONFUSING to use money to justify bringing your child with you everywhere. Clothing costs money and we notice you still dress your child. Also, this is a restaurant and going there will inevitably cost money.  

3.  Most kids are in bed by now.  Lest we offer the mistaken impression that we can manage our schedules and two whole spouses without leaving for the restaurant closer to 7pm than not...and got the waitress that made us grateful we received dinner service before 9pm...this was not your grandma's dinner party. The kids here at Chez Developmentally Inappropriate are up way past their bedtime, they are hungry, and they are exhausted.  Naturally a 2-12 year old impression of berserker, complete with guitar riff, is going to result.

Being the good MilSpouses we are, having learnt the hard way, we feel compelled to share what experience we have, no matter how impractical the tips or inconsequential the issue.  

Without further ado, following these 4 Simple Rules will dramatically improve the chances of enjoying an unchildish Friday night out near a Military Installation:

1.  Go to an ethnic restaurant.  Like, really ethnic.  We're big fans of Ethiopian food, possibly because after dozens of experiences in several restaurants in several cities, we've seen kids dining exactly once.  We remember because they were rotten and loud.  Japanese restaurants, in our experience, also tend to have few and/or very well behaved children.  We're not sure why this is -- but generally, you'll want to avoid Friday nights at any big chain restaurant or place that's known for serving stereotypical "kid food".

2.  Find a restaurant with age restrictions.  We've heard these exist.

3.  Shut your judgmental cake hole.  We won't say which one of us mortified GI Establishment with the following comment delivered with trademark inappropriate volume and timing: "If they can afford this place, they can afford a sitter."  The thing is, who knows if that's true?  Maybe the grandparents were visiting and insisted the whoooole family come.  Maybe the tiny ones are participants in some kind of totally rad Alzheimer's study of some meds w/side effects, and are not children at all.  (We hope it's the kind of study with sharks and Samuel L Jackson.  We love sharks and SLJ!)  Anyway, you're not doing anyone any favors by making the parents as uncomfortable as they've made you- so stop drinking and save your awesome parenting advice for your next blog post.

4.  Be an awesome auntie.  If everyone reading this blog took one night a month to watch Brave and build a blanket fort with their nieces, nephews, neighbors, accountants, really anyone who needs an adult around while their family enjoys a peaceful evening out, the world (of mid-range dining) would be a better place. Plus, forts.  Plus, while twelve overtired kids in a dark restaurant is hell on earth, two to three kids in their own home (in a fort) is a good time for you- and maybe your friend or soldier!  You're an adult, goddamnit. Tell your uptight siblings that you're bringing reinforcements.  You're doing them a favor, after all.  Also, the fortbuilders' parents can afford a fancy restaurant and so they prob have some kind of platinum streaming service.  Go ahead- watch Deep Blue Sea...after the rugrats are asleep, of course.  You're welcome.

One last thing- we would say that we hope our speculations re: parenting didn't offend anyone, but we have friends who are parents so we know better.  Instead, we hope that the mommies, daddies, and other parents reading this will realize that the road of a child-free MilSpouse is lonely, bitter, and in most cases, an extremely happy yet shocking place where every 3rd acquaintance is sporting a baby-bump. Cut us some slack.  We needed to vent and we'll listen when you do, too.  Contact us about guest posting!

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