I love to eat. Ella loves to eat. We love to eat together. We especially love to eat together when it’s outside of our home. I don’t know if I unknowingly passed on my restaurant love to my child or if God in his infinite wisdom blessed me with a child that appreciates different kinds of yummy food eaten in a variety of wonderful places. Either way, we love going out to eat together. Well…sort of.
It usually starts out great! First, the light bulb moment when we decide to go out for brunch/lunch/dinner/whatever. Then! The gleeful deliberation over where to go eat (so many glorious options!). Finally, the exciting trip to the chosen dining destination. Oh, the joy! The anticipation! Fun times!
There is just one problem though: Those long, excruciating minutes between restaurant arrival and food consumption. You see, children are impatient little things. The minute you sit down at the restaurant table they begin to fidget. And then the whining starts. They want their food NOW. Why is it taking so looooong? They are so hungryyyyyyy. When is the food comiiiiiiing? All this happens even before the waiter has taken your order. It’s terrible.
It is for this reason that my decision on which restaurant to go to is based solely on one factor: Can they keep my child entertained enough not to whine me to death before our food comes? CAN THEY? If no, bye (see you when I’m raising a teenager). If yes, please continue as there are some caveats.
I need the establishment to have more than one entertaining activity. Children have the attention spans of tropical fruit flies. Dear restaurant, please don’t come at me with just a paper and some crayons. This will keep her entertained for exactly 6 minutes. Will our food be here in 6 minutes? I think not. I need you to have a secondary activity that she can dive right into when we’re past the 6 minute mark.
My preference for secondary activities are those that involve the child actually leaving the restaurant table. A children’s play area, for example, fits in wonderfully here. Pulling the child away from the parental unit is key in reducing her urge to begin operation W.H.I.N.E. (And you really don’t want this..Despite the deficient attention span mentioned above, children demonstrate remarkable dedication and focus when it comes to whining).
But this is the thing, I’m a nervous mom. I can never fully relax when Ella is out of my sight. This fear is exacerbated by some of the restaurant play areas I see around. Oy vey! Why must the equipment be so rusty? So high off the ground? Why must the playground look like a treacherous, tetanus infested death trap? That nervousness is almost worse than the whining.
As you can probably tell from the neurosis displayed above, I only have a handful of favorite restaurants that meet my child friendly criteria. One of them is the Java at Valley Arcade – they have a nice play area which features well-maintained equipment as well as a Samsung Galaxy playground for added (electronic) entertainment. The others are the Spur restaurants – both the one in Westlands and the one at Eka Hotel have rust free INFLATABLE jungle gyms as well as Child Minders in the play areas. And! Both Java and Spur provide paper and crayons for those all-important initial 6 Minutes of Peace, yay!
Those are my favorite two restaurants for dining with a restless kid. Do you guys have any that you can recommend?
P.S. – I posted this past Wednesday after saying that I would be posting on Sundays from now on. Sigh. I’m such a fail. You can find that post here. (I should have known that I’m too random for schedule posts!)