Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Restaurant Rules for Infants

Dear Mark,

I know that you just turned eight months old last week, and it may seem like a bit much to add "reading letters from Mommy" to your long list of to-do items for the day. However, I hope that in between eating, sleeping, chewing on your socks, pulling your sister's hair, dashing for any open hallway door (especially the bathroom) and the ever vital mission to find crayons your sister has left on the floor, you will take the time to read this.

We recently had an opportunity to eat dinner at a local restaurant. I know that you are not too familiar with these types of establishments, as dining out is considered a treat for our family. You should know however, that we will be doing this again from time to time, because Mommy will have a mental breakdown if she never gets a break from cooking for the family. This seems like a good time to add that dining out is something the family (especially Mommy) really looks forward to, and wants to enjoy when given the opportunity.

As you may recall, you were given a unique privilege at the restaurant. For the first time, you were allowed to sit in your own highchair at the table with everyone else, rather than being strapped into your carseat the entire time. As you will learn, dear son, with privilege comes responsibility. This letter is to clarify the responsibilities that come with sitting at the table and the behavior that will be expected if you don't want to stay strapped into your carseat being fed from a baby spoon until you're twenty-one.

First, you must keep your hands and feet inside the high chair at all times. (Well, at least until you learn to feed yourself.) Kicking the nearest dinner companion, grabbing everything within reach, and arching in an effort to fall out of the chair as quickly as  possible will not be tolerated. The reason there is a five point harness on your car seat is because we are on to you little boy... we have seatbelts and buckles at the ready, and we are not afraid to use them.

You should also know that you are to eat your own food, and not someone else's. I know the container of salsa on the table must have seemed vastly more palatable than the rice cereal you were eating, but trust me - had you gotten any of that salsa into your mouth, you would have felt differently.

Luckily for you, the salsa bowl flipped over and splashed your pants leg, the high chair, both of your socks, and Daddy. While you didn't seem embarrassed to have lost half of your clothing and fifteen napkins during the clean up, you should know that this is not acceptable. I'm certain that even though your pants and socks could be removed with nary a glance from other patrons, if Daddy had tried to pull the same stunt, we would have had a much different reaction.

Also, you are allowed to flirt with the waitresses if you must. However, if this flirting interferes with our service, you really need to tone it down. We came to have a nice relaxing dinner with our family, not our family and half the restaurant staff. Being as handsome as you are, it is inevitable that you will draw lots of attention as we are out and about. If this attention affords us better service or we find that our waitress stops at the table more often as a result, we will find a way to live with this. However, if your cooing and shy smiles draws attention every five minutes, we shall never eat another meal in peace.

Lastly, we are there to eat. A restaurant is a very fascinating place, but when Mommy is trying to feed you, please try to refrain from looking in every direction except the spoon. When you do manage to get a bite, please keep the food in your mouth. No one thinks that rice cereal dripping past your two teeth onto your chin and landing on your bib is attractive (no matter what the waitresses say). Learning to keep your food hidden behind your teeth is something that will serve you well the rest of your life.

I am so proud of the fact that you were able to join us at the table, but please try to observe the above rules so that the entire family can enjoy our next outing without having to request extra napkins, a mop, a change of clothes and more salsa.

Until we eat again,

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