A few weeks ago, I read a blog post from a mom titled "10 Tips for a Good Tip When I Take My Kids Out to Eat." The topic is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: suggestions for how a restaurant server can make life a little easier for the author when she and her kids are eating out. "Take my kids' order fast so they get their food quickly," for instance. And "Clean the table as we go."
It's a perfectly reasonable list, although judging by the comments, the reader reactions got a little out of control at some point. But when I thought of what sorts of suggestions I would come up with for any food service worker who waits on my family in a restaurant, I realized that I have nothing but groveling, obsequious gratitude.
Without further ado, here are 10 Reasons I'm Insanely Grateful When I Take My Feral Children Out to Eat Which I Almost Never Do Because OMG Are You Kidding What a Shitshow:
1. Thank you for that little thing of crayons. Family restaurants always have the worst crayons in the entire world and I could not be more thankful for their crumbly, instantly-break-in-half-able existence. Extra points if they are accompanied by a kids' menu that doubles as a puzzle page or whatever, but honestly, the crayons are fantastic. A kid engrossed in a game of tic-tac-toe is a kid who isn't craning his head around like some sort of freaky-ass owl to stare at the diners in the booth next to us, so HOORAY FOR CRAYONS.
2. Thank you for the dumb kid food. I bet some children will eat all sorts of regular menu items, but I am not personally acquainted with those children. My children want me to spend $7.99 on a plate with a blort of Kraft mac & cheese dumped on it, and I am seriously happy for the option.
3. Thank you for having lids. Oh Jesus, thank you for that.
4. Thank you for pretending not to notice when I hiss death threats at my children. Like when I rage-whisper to my son that if he doesn't sit still I'm going to feed him to an actual live bear and I'm not even kidding.
5. Thank you for not stopping me when I clean up any mess my kids made. For real. If my children spill something, I'm not leaving it for someone else to clean. Thanks for casually providing me with napkins then ghosting away so I can mop up while reminding the kids about that bear.
6. Thank you for doing that clever thing where you ask about dessert without, like, asking about dessert. I don't even really know how to describe it, but every server I've ever had in a family restaurant has had this magical ability to convey the question of "Does anyone want dessert?" without actually saying the words out loud. Do you know what I mean? It's sort of part spoken language, part facial expression? Anyway, thank you for doing that, so my kids aren't all OMG DID SOMEBODY SAY ICE CREAMZ???!!!!????
7. Thank you for that moment when you come back and ask if everyone's doing okay. I always feel enormously relieved when we've gotten through the stress of ordering and the food is on the table and the kids are eating and so far no one's had to be banished to the car and, really, you're asking how I'm doing? God, that is so nice of you. Thank you. We're fine. You're awesome. Did you know no one's asked how I'm doing in a really long time? I LOVE YOU WAIT WHERE ARE YOU GOING COME BACK HERE AND ACCEPT MY WEIRDLY OVER-THE-TOP GRATITUDE.
8. Thank you for having booths. A booth means that my husband and I can each block in a kid. It's nature's most perfect design.
9. Thank you for having space on the receipt to write in a tip. I know, pretty much every place does this, but I'm always grateful I have the time to add it in after the card's been swiped instead of figuring out the math beforehand, because I am a dipshit.
10. Thank you for giving me an utterly luxurious experience. Do you have any idea how rare it is for someone other than me to prepare, serve, and tidy up after a meal? It is rare. IT IS VERY VERY RARE INDEED. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that brief yet exotically wonderful vacation from my regular life.
What are you most grateful for when you go out to eat with your kids?
Image via Linda Sharps