Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Sushi Date Night and How I'm Able to Dine Out with a Toddler

Van and I sometimes struggle on nights when T has band practice. I think it's a combination of boredom on V's part (Tony is much more physically playful with him than I am) and exhaustion on my part ( my work isn't at all demanding but there's something strangely tiring about being on your ass at the computer all day. It's weird, I know).

Instead of me trying to make dinner with Van in between my legs on the kitchen floor whining at me to hold him or let him grate cheese or core a pineapple or broil toast or sear a tuna steak in hot oil, and me telling him no and him proceeding to whine louder in protest or play extra messily in his room to spite me, I decided we'd head out on a Mama/Vanny date.

I asked him if he wanted tacos or sushi. "Shoe-shee!" he exclaimed.

And so we went. It was fun doing something this classy, just the two of us. Hopefully this will be the first of many Mama and Vanny dinner dates. I think Van liked that he was out somewhere special with just me. I liked it too!

Van had the inari with veggie gyoza

and edamame, of course. as soon as the waitress dropped it off at our table van asked, "can I have some dip please?"

seared tuna with red sauce. always! van loved this too.

definitely doesn't suck at chopsticks...

don't let the face here fool you. he had a blast.

In closing, I thought I might add some tips that I use to keep Van acting right when we go out to eat. They work well for us - we've always been able to dine out with V with minimal meltdowns.

  • Go somewhere where you will be offered something to eat as soon as you sit down. When we go out with Vanny, most of the time it's the kind of place where you order at the counter and sit down and wait for your meal. Think Chipotle or Pluto's. When we venture to a real restaurant, we tend to choose Mexican because Van will have chips and salsa to eat right away. Also, if you are in the Sacramento-ish area, PF Changs will bring a little bowl of berries and crunchy Asian things to keep your babe busy and happy while you look over the menu. AWESOME. If you aren't offered something (like chips and salsa) order an appetizer. The less time your kid has to wait around for something to happen, the better.

  • Go at a time when your toddler isn't going to be a little ass. I mean, this seems like an obvious one but the restaurants of the world are filled with moron parents forcing their kids to behave when clearly they should be napping or going down for the night.

  • Bring stuff. Quiet stuff - cards, little plastic military men, a book. Some places offer crayons and a fun paper menu, but that can get old. Backup items are good to keep in your purse just in case.

  • Interact with your child. Talk to them, point out the scenery, count the forks at the table, organize the sugar packets by color, find things in the room that are blue, etc. Keep you kid busy and thinking. Boredom = acting out.

  • Let your kid know what he can expect the experience to be like. This one, I think, is probably the most major tip. Before you even get your child ready to head out the door tell them where you are taking them. Tell them how long it'll take to drive there, tell them what the room is going to look like when you get there. Tell them that the server is going to bring them drinks and food. Tell them they'll have choices. Tell them whether or not they are going to have to sit in a high chair. Tell them that no one wants to hear any kids whining/crying/screaming while out to eat. Tell them that if they whine/cry/scream/throw food, etc that ya'll will have to leave and they won't get to have fun and eat good food at the restaurant. And for Van, we tell him that if he's a good boy and eats his dinner, he'll get a lollipop. :)

  • And if your kid acts a fool, leave. Sorry. For the sake of your kid, for your sake and for the sake of the rest of the patrons. Tell your server you're going to need to get your food to go and take your whining/crying/screaming kid outside. We've been there a couple times. Even the best behaved toddler is still a toddler. I mean, they've only been alive for a couple years, we can't expect them to act right ALL the time. Better luck next time!