kids and restaurants- is it worth it?

Liv’s first sushi trip at one week old. She slept the whole time.

One year and eight days ago, I became a mom to 6 lb. 13 oz. Olivia, better known as Liv.

I had earned the title of stepmom years prior, but this was the first time that I would be there from birth on. This time I would get all the good and the bad. The night feedings and the poopy diapers as well as the first smiles and words.

Of course, there are things that I knew would be challenging. I am not a morning person, and sleeping in now means 6:30 a.m. Keeping up with laundry for the two, sometimes three, of us was arduous enough. How can such a little person have so much wash? Of course, I knew that going back to work and juggling career and family would be something that I would struggle with, but I think I have done a pretty decent job.
But there are a few things that I didn’t fully appreciate until I became a parent. Here is one:
You should not have to leave your children at home with a babysitter every time you go out for a meal.
OK, I admit it. I rolled my eyes when parents with screaming infants went in a restaurant. Why can’t they quiet them down? Can’t they get a babysitter? Kids and restaurants do not belong together. . .right?
Now, I will be the first one to smile at said parents. We have been fairly lucky so far. Liv is happy as long as she has something to eat or a menu to play with when we sit down. But paying $40 bucks for a sitter so you can go have a $40 meal is not worth it most of the time. Plus, we enjoy spending time with our daughter. And now that she is old enough to eat most solids (stuff she can chew or gum with her two little teeth), I love introducing her to all sorts of culinary delights. Sushi (of the veggie variety) has made the cut. Yes!
I am a strong believer in the paci/nuk/binky. I always have a paci (or two, I have learned the hard way) when we go to a restaurant. And, yes, if it falls on the floor, and I have no other alternative, I will dip it in soda, water, or my own mouth to save the other patrons from hearing my daughter’s wails.
This empathy ends when your kid is five or six and throws a fit at a restaurant. Maybe I will eat my words someday, but by then kids should be able to behave in public. If not, leave them at home. Better yet, stay home with them and teach them discipline. (I do realize kids will have occasional bad days, but some kids never, ever show manners in public.)

Am I embarrassed on the occasion when Liv throws her sippy cup on the floor or screeches at the top of her lungs? Eh, a little bit. But when your kid cries while you are trying to devour cheddar bay biscuits and caesar salad at Red Lobster, you won’t get a crusty look from me. You’ll get a smile and a nod. I get it now.


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