The most commonly asked question I get from parents is “how do I make my kids behave at a restaurant?” There isn’t a magic pill. This takes consistency and lots of grace. When I first started taking my kids out to eat. I made up my mind to be prepared mentally and emotionally to leave at any point where my kids disrupted another diner. Of course, I always make sure to not put my kids in situations that are selfish, such as having them out too late. Last year at ages 3 and 5 we were able to enjoy a very nice, long meal at Commander’s Palace with my mom. My daughter understood that eating there was very special and a treat. This is not to toot my own horn. This is simply what has worked for us and for others. I promise you, it has not been easy from the beginning. When they aren’t accustomed to something like eating at a restaurant, they won’t inherently know how to behave. It has taken consistency in my expectations and sticking to my guns if something happened. Thankfully, it hasn’t in years. Enjoying a meal out is not a right that we are given, so having respect and courtesy for others is important. Here are a few tips that have worked over the years:
While the title of this post may not seem to be strictly about etiquette, it is my belief that those with good etiquette know far more than just about utensils and stemware. They know about grace. They know about kindness. They know about humility. Each of the preceding qualities are ones I feel we are losing with the participation trophy mentality.
People of all ages need to know how to win gracefully and lose gracefully. In an “everything goes” society, it’s important to remember that not everything does. It is perfectly okay that we excel in some areas and not in others. It’s okay that we are not the best in everything we do. With participation trophies, we often feed a false sense of security and belief that everything one touches turns to gold. We are losing drive. We are losing desire. We are losing passion.
What are we teaching our kids when they still win even if they didn’t put forth any effort aside from showing up? Sheltering them from the realities of life does much greater harm than any good that may come from it.
The kids who are never lost anything don’t know how to respond with grace when they are not invited to a party.
Their identity lies in being included, and they don’t know how to react when they are not treated the same as every other person.
Now, please don’t mistake me. I will never, ever advocate for anyone being left out. What I’m saying is that we all have different strengths and weaknesses. If we fail to identify those weaknesses, how do we expect to work on the weaknesses and to grow from them? Emotionally, we are stunting ourselves. Instead of seeing a lack of invitation as a personal attack, we need to know how to move from it.
Our differences are beautiful. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities because of the uniqueness you’ll find there. They embraces their culture and the people who make up said culture instead of trying to be the same. Maybe your gift is encouraging others. If everyone expects to win, when will your gift be used?
Embracing the fear of failure and being willing to try anyway is something else I’m afraid we’re losing in the participation trophy world.
This year I wish you a lot of grace and happiness. I hope you’re willing to try. I hope you’re willing to fail. I hope you’re willing to grow.
My mom, my kids and I just got back from the most amazing trip. We started out on Thursday morning before the sun was up, and we made it to New Orleans for our 1:30pm reservation at Commander’s Palace. I was ecstatic to get a lunch reservation for that day, as we wanted to keep the trip as schedule-free as possible. This, if you know me, is not my norm. I thrive on schedules, but, even though I did have moments of terror wondering what we were going to do, I loved the freedom of this trip.
I usually find that scheduling my time is more purposeful, and I’m able to get a lot more done. But this trip wasn’t about getting as much done as possible. It was about spending as much time together as possible. We were able to do a lot, which my Type A side appreciated. More than that, though, we were able to do a lot together. I loved sharing a meal at Commander’s Palace with my babies. Having my daugther choose to take a buggy ride as her choice of activity warmed my heart. We hit the highlights in every town, choosing the touristy route, and we spent most evenings playing for a couple of hours in the pool – which the kids absolutely loved.
In New Orleans we ate at Commander’s Palace and Cafe Du Monde, followed by a buggy ride; In Pass Christian we played in white sand and ate the best crab I’ve ever had. In Natchez we toured three homes and took pictures of the Mighty Mississippi; In Natchitiches we ate meat pies; In Jefferson we got Moody Dogs and Riverport barbecue and showed the kids where their daddy proposed to me many moons ago.
I wouldn’t have changed anything about it for the world. This trip also helped me realize something. I’m raising good humans. This will likely come across as though I’m tooting my own horn. My intent is not that at all. My intent is to encourage you to slow down in life long enough to see the good around you. I worry so much about making sure I’m doing everything in my power to ensure that my kids are smart, kind, outgoing, etc., etc., etc. I don’t slow down enough to always recognize that they are truly good people. They’re respectful. They thank others without being prompted. My daughter, at one point in a restaurant, even said, “I know what ladies do. They do this!” Then she promptly placed her napkin on the seat of her chair. This warmed my heart. She’s listening. They both are.
Most importantly, they pray for others who are hurting, such as those currently impacted by Harvey. They are good souls, and I’m thankful I get to be their momma and spend this time with them. I’m thankful for the reminder that they are enough. We all are.
Our prayers are with those who are impacted by Harvey.