From the time our kids were born, we took them with us just about everywhere. Occasionally, we would get a sitter for a night without them and act like grownups, but for the most part they went with us. They quickly learned how to behave in a restaurant. With a little bit of "direction" from us, they knew that dinner meant sitting in your chair and not being disruptive, learning how to converse and be social. We did not plant our kids in front of our phones and mobile devices and games to entertain them. We talked to them and here is the surprise, they talked to us.
I can remember a trip to Disney World with my brother and his family. All totaled we had four adults and nine children in our group. The ages of the kids ranged from almost three to fourteen. We went everywhere in a group, all thirteen of us. Every evening we ate at a different restaurant. Every morning we had a "Character Breakfast". It was a great trip! There were moments of course. I snapped at least once over a whining child and made some type of idiotic threat like "If that happens again, I will leave you at Space Mountain forever; or I will make you a permanent decoration on the Pirates of the Caribbean." Overall though, it was a good trip! I can remember all of us going into a nice steak restaurant in Epcot one evening. Our group was seated. Shortly after we were situated at our table, a table of two older couples called the waiter over and asked to be moved. My sister in law and I both noticed what happened. The kids were on their best behavior! We had a great dinner, lots of conversation and no spills. The two couples were seated next to another adult table. They spent their evening miserable. The table next to them was drunk, loud and obnoxious. Yea for poetic justice!
Now that I have told that story, I would not be honest if I didn't tell you that all is not perfect. "Mommy" was about three at the time, as I recall. We were at a banquet honoring my mother for her years of service to the church choir. "Mommy" was being particularly demanding and throwing mini temper tantrums. Because of the setting, I was being a little more tolerant of the behavior than usual and allowed it to continue until ....you guessed it, I snapped. I informed her that I had enough and we were going to the bathroom for a little chat. The next thing I knew, she flew into a full blown temper tantrum and screamed "NO, NOT THE BATHROOM!!!!" I was slightly horrified and vaguely remember fumbling around saying, "We are just going to the bathroom, I don't know what she is screaming about." Kids have their own poetic justice.
My real point is, engage your children. Don't dismiss them and occupy them with technology as young children and then wonder why they don't talk to you as young teenagers and adults. It is how you build your relationship with them. Besides that, they are pretty cool to get to know and you end up with millions of stories like mine!
Finally, I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day. Somewhere in your life you had or have a mom, whether she is spiritual, biological, adoptive or even just a good friend. I hope you remembered to tell those special ladies in your life, thank you and I love you!
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!