My husband and I love good food. Really really love good food. This is interesting because I actually really really hate cooking.
I hate the chopping and stirring and washing and peeling. I really hate the peeling. I hate the sticky and steamy and smelly and hot.
I burn myself every single night. True story.
Still I don’t think you quite grasp my level of hatred for cooking. If I were a single-apartment dwelling-30 something, if I didn’t have my family, I would survive on vegemite toast and vodka. In fact in the “life-before-children” I did precisely that.
I’m not totally hopeless. I burn myself more than the food.
I can whip up a pretty good spaghetti bolognaise, or a mean chicken stir-fry. But anything that requires an obscure herb or more than 6 ingredients and I immediately lose interest. It’s a total oxymoron. How can I be a true foodie when I loathe cooking? I don’t know the answer to that yet. But I do know that I want to enjoy good food and I don’t want to partake in a 37 process recipe that takes 12 hours just to make the stock.
I just want to eat it; I don’t want to cook it.
So when I need a good food fix we go out. Going out for good food is not the same as ‘Mum can’t be bothered so we’re going to the Pub for dinner.’ (That happens quite a bit too.)
Going out for good food requires a location where there is no kids’ playground, there is likely no kids menu, and believe it or not the table cloths are just that…cloth. (When did it become acceptable to substitute butchers paper for a table cloth?)
Does that mean we don’t take our kids?
I can understand the inclination to avoid taking your kids to a real restaurant. It’s just easier to go to a “family friendly” place where the kids can eat chicken nuggets and disappear to the playroom leaving the adults to eat their dinner in ‘peace.’
I can’t hear myself think in those places.
There is no ‘peace.’
Yet still you hear parents saying ‘go play while the adults have some quiet time’…. hah
If it’s quiet time your after, I think you’re in the wrong place.
Imagine how nice it is to be seated at a lovely table, with the candle light flickering against the wineglasses, and some beautiful piano music playing (that you can actually hear), and you are served by a waiter that has some real knowledge. Now imagine that you can do that with your family.
Of course you can.
The kids enjoy this too. Even a 3 year old can appreciate a calm, relaxed and beautiful experience.
There are relatively few restaurants that have a ‘child free’ policy so there really is no reason to avoid taking kids to eat real food in a real restaurant.
From the time they were tiny little marsupials sleeping in the capsule under the table, we have taken or kids to restaurants. It wasn’t something we planned or purposely set out to achieve, it was just… because Mummy and Daddy want to eat good food and drink wine from a winelist that does not involve Wolfblass or Lindemans Bin, you guys can learn to sit still.
Granted, when you show up at a 2 hat restaurant with an 18mo, 3, 5 and 7 year old they tend to look at you like you’ve lost your mind.
“Are you sure you’re in the right place? La Porchetta is around the corner”
Because of this our kids know how to behave in a nice restaurant. They know that their asses are glued to their chairs. They know they will have to wait. They know they might get bored. They know they can draw or talk quietly.
But they do.not.move.
You’d think they would hate it, but they really love how special they feel about being allowed to go somewhere ‘grown up’. And they especially love all the attention they get when people stop to tell them how well behaved they are. And people do stop, all the time. They lap it up like puppies. Positive reinforcement from someone other than Mum and Dad?
You don’t get that from avoiding the experience. You don’t get that from not taking your kids to a nice place to show them how to behave. You can’t expect your kids to know how to behave in a nice restaurant if you have never taken them to one.
It’s easier for us now that ours are a little older. It wasn’t always that way, when they were little we had our fair share of moments.
They were all, at some stage, removed from the table and made to stand outside until they could control themselves.
They have all had their lemonade confiscated for blowing bubbles.
They have all been refused dessert for something or other that I really can’t remember. Now all they need is ‘the look’ to pull them into line. (Only Deflector questions this with “what Mum?!” he wouldn’t be himself if he didn’t question everything. He just can’t help himself.)
If you start young, it becomes second nature. No one expects small kids to be perfect, but what we have learned is that, in being consistent, it gets more and more perfect each time.
And the work is so worth the reward.
Just as an aside – we do our fair share of pubs, RSL’s and general family restaurants. Our kids do eat chicken nuggets and run in and out of bistro playrooms. I am happy with a pub steak and glass of house wine (ok not house wine ;-). )
We definitely do NOT eat in fine dining restaurants all the time.
For one thing, a family of 6 costs a small frakking fortune.
But we do DO it. We know we CAN do it. We are not afraid of doing it. And thank God for that, because I absolutely cannot rely on my own cooking skills to satisfy my need for good food.