Maybe we’re lucky, but we’ve been able to take the kids to nice restaurants (places that most people would only go on anniversaries) since they could sit on a high chair. Even with Jovie’s pickiness, I never ask whether they have a kid’s meal or not. While I do ask what the kids want to eat for lunch/dinner (if I am cooking that is), when it comes to eating out, mom and dad gets to pick and they eat whatever is on the menu.
I remember when Emma was about Jovie’s age and I booked a dinner at a French restaurant. On the notes section I wrote: Two adults and one VERY well behaved 3-yrs-old. After dinner the owner stopped by our table and commented on how true I was about M’s behaviour. Not only was the owner impressed by M’s table manners, she was also impressed with the fact that we didn’t order a kid’s meal AND that M ate the escargot and cheeses. So for Emma’s good behaviour, the owner treated M to dessert.
Fast forward to a month ago when we were in Paris. I booked lunches and dinners at restaurants that food bloggers (well, mostly David Lebovitz) and Chowhound folks were clamoring about and the girls sat nicely throughout the meals (I think one was a two hours meal). Fast forward again to a few weeks ago. We were at a casual restaurant and in the middle of our meal, an elderly gentleman stopped by and praised us on how well the girls were eating and how great of a job raising them I did. That comment made my day and M (Jovie doesn’t get stuff like that) was pleased too.
Earlier in the year a book was published by an American living (or maybe used to live) in Paris: Bringing up Bebe. I haven’t read the book, but the WSJ article made me believe that if we were to live in France, our kids would just fit in. At least in terms of eating and playing.
What have we done to make the girls this way? Well, I’m not quite sure but we do the following when we eat (with special days here and there):
- We always eat together as a family at the table
- There’s no slurping (although I told hubby that in Asia, slurping is a sign that you love the food, but then he argued that we’re not in Asia)
- There’s no chewing and talking
- There’s no leaving the table unless you’ve been excused
- We eat everything that’s served, even the yucky vegetables (or in M’s case: Fish)
- We respect each and every food (so no food playing)
- There’s no TV (and this is where the special days come in, we watched the Olympics opening while eating a few weeks ago)
- We all talk about our day and whatever else that comes to mind (nothing negative or work issues – we save those for hubby and I time)
- We practice our pleases and thank yous
- And we do punish during meal time for table misbehaviors
They’re all pretty basic and I have to admit that without hubby, the girls wouldn’t be as good (he’s louder than me). It’s kind of cute too because when Jovie’s done she’d go, “Can I be excused?” and if I said yes, she’ll go off an play quietly until we finish or if I say no, she’ll just sit there and as long as I keep talking to her, she’ll be just fine.
There is one nice restaurant tip for toddlers/preschoolers. Always give them something to do, always interact with them, and give them something to eat that will last a bit. Jovie’s favorite is bread and butter, which most restaurants (at least here in Europe) serve.
Yes, she likes posing with her food.
Also, let the kids use the same glass and cutlery you’re using (sans real knife unless the kid’s old enough) and they will feel pretty special about eating with mom and dad at a nice restaurant.
Yes, she drank water from a wine glass, got her own gaspacho, and spreading butter on her own bread.
I did make a few projects too a few weeks ago. Presents for M’s twin friends. And matching cards. I enjoy a bit of stitching now and then and I always think that hoop art is just fabulous. I used Waltzingmouse’s stamps for the little girl and I just winged the rest of it.