We made the bold attempt to take the kids out for dinner on Monday night. Since Jim’s therapists take him out every day and practice eating in restaurants, we have decided to try to go out to eat like other families and not shelter Jim or ourselves from these experiences. So we chose to go to the The Mellow Mushroom, which probably changed its name to The Not So Mellow Mushroom after we had gone.
Here are a few tips for any families trying to make these types of outings easier:
- Call Ahead – Knowing that Jim has difficulty waiting for any extended period of time, we called the restaurant and explained our situation and ordered our food so that it would be ready when we got there.
- Go Early – In an effort to prevent putting on a Broadway Show for the entire restaurant, choose to dine at an off-peak time. This way the staff might be more accommodating when being asked to prepare food before your arrival. They may also be more willing to meet your specific needs for seating etc.
- Bring Reinforcements – Have something that your child finds reinforcing so that they will be occupied for the time while they are waiting for their food and while you are trying to shovel yours in faster than Winona Ryder trying to get out the door with unpaid merchandise. Some examples might include: snacks, an iPad, a favorite toy or stuffed animal.
- Show Up Prepared – As no competent soldier would go to war without his rifle, you should never, ever, leave home without a back pack filled with everything but the kitchen sink. We bring extra clothes, baby wipes, garbage bags, extra shoes and whatever reinforcements we are planning to use… all bundled into a storage vessel that appears completely appropriate worn on the back of a twelve year old.
- Be Ready To Evacuate – Because your first few times eating out are like robbing a bank – “never get yourself into anything you can’t walk away from in 45 seconds.” Be realistic about what you are taking on and set a reasonable goal. If the ship starts sinking ask the staff for to go boxes and turn it into take out!
- Pay Promptly – When the server brings your food to the table and asks if you need anything else, make sure you say, “the bill please.” In the interest of not making your kids wait any longer than necessary take care of payment while your eating so that you can get up and go as soon as possible.
- Be Generous – Since often times our kids can create a masterpiece that resembles a Jackson Pollock painting, and leave us feeling like we should offer to mop the floors (which we have done), tip your waitstaff appropriately and chances are they will be happy to have you back.
As my husband likes to say, “these are general guidelines.” They don’t always work but hopefully they can improve your chances for an enjoyable experience.
We tried our best to follow all of the tips listed above. Our experience wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst either!
- Jim decided he was only going to eat crust so we were piling pizza crusts up as fast as we could.
- Christian kept knocking his Legos into Jim’s plate.
- The battery died on our Kindle, but we had other reinforcements.
- Jim knocked a glass of water all over himself and the table – thank goodness for the back pack.
- Jim threw a tantrum …he laid back in the booth and started kicking the wall next to him.
- We even had some aggresssion – Jim smacked Jeremy 3 times.
But the point is that we tried ! So no matter what it was a win! The goal was to go out to eat in a restaurant and we did. We cannot get discouraged or we won’t continue to try.