10 ways you can help parents enjoy dinner out with their kids

Some lucky people don’t have kids so some things just don’t occur to them. That is understandable. This little post is to enlighten young waiters and waitresses on how they can help a family with kids who are eating at their restaurant.

1. Seat us where we won’t bother other people without dooming us to the shitty table by the trash cans. Any good restaurant should contemplate where to put families with small children so they can enjoy themselves without being self-conscious.

2. Don’t put spillable things right in front of the kids. We had a waitress set 4 full water glasses directly in front of our (then) 2-year old. They were spilled instantly. Do we even have to mention this one? The same goes for the sharp and/or expensive things. Keep all that shit away from our kids. We’ll do it for you, believe me, but if you are aware of it you can save yourself a lot of trouble and mess.

3. Have enough high-chairs so we don’t have to hold our babies in our laps. Complain to your boss if you do not.

4. Get the kids something to eat right away. Breadsticks, carrots, ANYTHING.

5. Give the kids something to do. Crayons are perfect.

6. Be flexible with the menu. Say Yes when we ask for some plain noodles or a simple chicken breast. We are not the first people to ask this. You shouldn’t have to ask your boss or make it seem like some BFD.

7. Bring the kids’ food out first. Do not bring the kids food at the same time as the expensive entrees of the parents. We want to eat hot food, too.

8. Keep things moving. Families with small children don’t want a 2-hour dinner. We need to order, eat and leave in under an hour, generally speaking.

9. Be fun and friendly to the kids. Try out your extra-cool goth vibe on someone else. We are all here to enjoy ourselves. If you don’t like your job, quit. But if you are waiting on my family, treat us to a good time.

10. We’re messy. We know. We will tip you extra for the trouble.

The childless reading this might be thinking — don’t the parents have some responsibility in all of this? Of course we do. We do all 10 of these things every freaking day. We compensate daily for the wait staff that doesn’t get this stuff. We are not really asking for extra special treatment. It’s just that everyone, the servers included, have a better time if there is at least some cognition about this kind of thing.

Finally a bonus item for the other patrons of the restaurant:

11. We know having young children nearby can be annoying when all you want is a quiet dinner. Welcome to Earth, where you were once a noisy, messy child yourself. Cut us some slack.

Thank you!

10 ways you can help parents enjoy dinner out with their kids

Things greater than yourself

Most of my readers know that I am an atheist. I’ve written about it extensively but let me summarize to say — atheism is a movement of hope, rationale and enjoyment of life. It is not an outlook which is depressing or fatalistic.

There are many people I love in this world but, if push came to shove, it is hard to predict who among them, if any, I would actually die for. It is easy to say that I would die for my awesome wife or my brother or sister but if the moment were to arrive, without time to think about it, I cannot really predict what I would do.

This is not true of my children. I would absolutely and without a moment’s hesitation die for them. My kids are a higher purpose, of a sort, for me. They need me, they love me and they are wonderful lovable little beings. They are without question the most important thing in my life.

I’ve written before about my belief that life without children is a wonderful thing. I don’t think parenthood is necessarily greater than any other lifestyle choice. But once that bridge is crossed I think all but the most selfish losers quickly find their higher purpose in their children.

The tension is — there is much I want to do in my life. I to not intend to be a servant to my children. Yet my life has been unquestionably enriched by their presence.

And finally — I think perhaps the only good thing about religion is that it gives people a little humility about their place in the world. I don’t need religion to give me that, personally, but the realization that there are things more important than yourself is one that is quite necessary in this world.

Things greater than yourself