Friday, August 19, 2011

What would J Q Do?

Primetime: What would you do?I am a non-confrontational sort of gal. At times, I think being this way saves me from a lot of arguments. But if John Quinones has taught me anything, it's that sitting idly by when you see something wrong is not always the best thing to do.

I know I shouldn't feel bad about voicing my opinions...especially here on MY blog, But I do believe the hot button issue I'm about to discuss may have some of my friends sitting on different sides of the fence and I want to remind those readers sitting on the other side of the fence from me: I still love you...even when you're wrong! :)

So with the disclaimer out of the way:

Let me tell you about the A-hole that almost ruined our ninth anniversary dinner...

It all starts at The Evolution Grille.

The waitress was friendly. The menu was exciting. The service was prompt.  The food tasted great. The Evolution Grille is worth a second, third, twentieth taste.  We were very pleased with that part of our dining experience.  We chose items that we wouldn't normally prepare for ourselves: Jim had the veal and I had the duck. We had an appetizer and dessert. We have spent more money on less tasty meals. Go there!

But if you prefer to eat your dinner in a place where you can loudly speak about your Winter home in Florida, discuss the people you know who study micro-biology, lament the end of your stay in Pennsylvania, reminisce about every single meal you have eaten in the place, tell your waitress about how great the OTHER waitress you had when you ate here was, and rudely, and again LOUDLY, complain about other patrons who are simply trying to have a lovely meal as well, then please be advised to stay home and annoy your pets, neighbors, and any other living thing with whom you come in contact.

The restaurant is small and I was back to back with the guests behind us. Jim was facing the front of the restaurant and had a good view of everything going on behind me. Honestly, hearing the conversations of guests around me is not a big deal, and at times can be fun!  When I go out to eat, I'm not expecting privacy. If I wanted privacy and peace and quiet than I would order food and eat it in the privacy of my home. I expect courtesy and act courteously when I am in a restaurant. I am in the process of teaching my young children how to behave this way in a restaurant as well. That means that I do, on occasion take my young children with me to restaurants.

There was a family that came in the restaurant toward the end of our meal (A grandmother, mom, dad, young son, and a high chair bound daughter) for what seemed like a special occasion (everyone had on their Sunday best). Shortly after being seated the young daughter let out a long shriek. Why? Perhaps she was tired, hungry, not capable of communicating her wishes with words. Whatever the reason, her mom seemed to get things in hand quickly. The episode was over in less than thirty seconds, but apparently not quickly enough for Mr. Winter Home who proceeded to do a 180 in his seat to glare at the family. As he turned back to his partner he loudly commented that HE thought the child needed to get some air (implying that she should be removed from the restaurant) and as his partner gently patted his hand and muttered something quietly (probably about making a scene or something) he loudly insisted that he would be letting his waitress know how irritated he was. He also made the comment that he was SO thrilled that he did not have children of his own.  Seriously, dude. Thank you for granting the rest of us that favor!

Maybe it's because I have young kids but my heart went out to the now-quietly-awaiting-their-food-family.  The kids were not running around the restaurant, standing on their chairs, stealing food from other patrons plates or misbehaving in any other way. The little girl had a mini meltdown for less than 30 seconds and that was just enough to set this jerk off and give him the right to ostracize this family and make a fuss that was now ruining the good time of other guests (namely Myself and Jim). I could see Jim's blood starting to boil and he was very close to saying something. He didn't, although I think he would have if the man pushed one more time.  We paid our check and left, and I made sure to give the family a smile as we walked out. The little girl returned my smile. She was perfectly behaved at the time.

Jim and I talked about the incident all the way to our next destination (an unromantic, but fun for us, trip to Linens and Things. Hahahaha)

I am kind of sick of hearing that young children should be banned from restaurants.  During a recent rather one sided discussion I was part of, one person made a comment that restaurants should, if not ban children, then at least create a SECTION for children and relegate families to that section as they used to do for smokers and non-smokers. She could see no difference between this issue and the smoking issue, as cigarette smoke, while annoying, did not personally bother her. HUH? After the fact, I thought of a comeback:  Last time I checked second hand smoke is a little more than annoying, it is hazardous to my health, whereas, my children are not going to kill you by merely enjoying a meal next you. 

Well, I'm paying good money not to have to put up with misbehaving kids.  I get it people. I'm paying for my meal as well as four overpriced helpings of mac and cheese, thank you. And when I am able to go out without my children I'm paying for my meal and childcare for my kids--I am not paying good money to sit next to a self absorbed loud mouth! The problem is really NOT the children, it's the parents who aren't doing everything in their power to teach their kids how to behave in public and it's the idiots who have all the answers and become obnoxious that ruin the restaurant experience for people. I should not be banished to eat every meal at home until my children reach their teens.

Here's a novel concept: JERKS should be banned from restaurants.

In the meantime, kudos to mom, dad, and grandma for teaching your little ones how to behave last night at The Evolution and to Mr. Winter Home, I hope you choked on your Almond Cream Cake. Believe me, the irony of YOUR poor behavior in a restaurant was not lost on me!

Thankfully, the situation didn't escalate but if it had, I hope that we would have made John Quinones proud.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sticky Fingers, Livi

Yesterday we went school shopping at the Mills. With four kids? Yes, I'm daring like that. By yourself? Yes, I'm crazy like that.  We hit 5 stores, the food court, and then the play area and pet store too for good measure. Trips like this always begin with a good "talking to" in the van on the way there. It's more like manifesting destiny for me--if I say it, it will be true.

The "talking to" goes like this:
Well, girls, lets have fun today! We are going to do TONS of shopping. You need to stick by me so I don't lose you in the store. I would be very sad and cry if I lost you forever. Please don't whine, complain, fight or cry. If I hear anything like that we will do an about face in the store and go home. We won't be buying anything if that happens. Let's try to get the most for our money, look for signs that say sale! We don't want to waste our money! Ready for some fun? Okay team, BREAK!  (I say that last part in my head)

The shopping trip went well. I got shoes for all the girls and an outfit for each of them.  But somewhere something went awry. We were standing in line for what passes as Chinese food when something caught my eye in the bottom of the stroller. It was a cute little denim skirt that I had shown to Olivia in H&M. We didn't buy anything there, just browsed around with the intention of buying. 

But here was the skirt.

Excuse me, I said to the teen behind the counter. We need to make a return.

Livi, did you put this skirt in our stroller?

Yes! She said

You can't do that, Livi. That's stealing! We have to pay for things we want from the store! Do you want mommy to go to jail? I half expected her to say yes, because she says stuff like that now that she is a sassy four year old.   (Looking back, I think I was a bit harsh. I was embarrassed.  Jordan--cautious and sensitive child that she is was on the verge of tears. Ava--was busy admonishing Livi too. And Livi was a little stunned because I know she didn't intentionally try to steal that skirt. It was just a little mishap.) But I had to take the skirt  back and I figured it was a teachable moment.

When we walked into the store, there was no employee in sight. Great, I thought, they are scouring their video footage in the back trying to I.D. the shoplifting mother. Finally I found someone on the Grown Up side of the store. I approached her with my remorseful looking brood (you have never seen so many puppy dog eyes). 

I could have just walked back into the empty store, returned the skirt to its rack and gone back out, but this seemed too easy.  Shouldn't being caught stealing be less anti climactic than that?  I literally had to scour the store to find an employee to play a role in this cautionary tale. And when I did find her, I wasn't even sure what to do. This was a weird moment for me. What exactly do you say when your four year old unintentionally shop lifts? I don't even remember what I said but it was awkward. The clerk was caught by surprise too, but she was quite forgiving and played along with my idea about the "teachable moment." She accepted Olivia's sheepish apology and added an admonishment about getting in trouble with the police or some such. Olivia promised to never ever do it again, as did the other girls.

Glad that THAT unpleasantness was over, it was off to lunch where the memory of sticky fingers Livi was quickly replaced by sticky fingers of another variety, the kind that wet wipes can easily fix. mm...fake Chinese food.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Helping Hands and High Fives

The wheels have been turning around here as we begin to switch gears into a new (and hectic) back to school routine.   I had a light bulb moment a couple of weeks ago around the time that the girls were complaining that "we never have fun" and "we're bored."  We can't have fun around here because I have too much on my to-do list.  Now, normally I would say...put down the to-do list and play with the kids! Get outside and enjoy the fleeting Summer sunshine. The thing is, when I put down the to-do list the house turns to shambles...not just a couple of dust bunnies here and there. I mean comes-to-a-screeching-halt kind of shambles like: we can't eat dinner because there isn't any silver wear clean and mom I'm down to my last pair of clean underwear.  I don't like to see the house get to this point, the truth is, that if I'm not doing a load of laundry a day, running the dishwasher and picking up stray toys and dirty clothes then it seems like within 8 hours we are well on our way to the gears jamming around here.

SO on to my light bulb moment.  Why am I trying to do it all myself?  Jim has a few jobs around the house reserved for him, but he works many days well into the evening hours and many Saturdays too, so when he isn't here to lend a hand, all the household chores fall on me.  The kids pick up toys but I consider myself lucky if they get through it without an ever persistent whining and alternate threats and raised voice warnings on my end.  Many times I find myself just faster/easier/better when I do it myself, but I'm beginning to wonder if that's true?

Growing up we always had chores to do around the house, in fact we had a full blown chart/calendar that we followed to a T--we even had our own "off" day built in, where we could relax and slack off for the whole day.  The thing is, I always thought of myself as a teenager following this particular chore chart. Before my teenage years I have vague memories of a sticker star chart and clear memories of my Mom asking/pleading/bribing/threatening/yelling while I lounged lazily among an ankle deep wading pool of toys and whined.  (I feel like I am right in the middle of those days right now, but the roles are reversed).  I can't really remember when/how I learned how to do chores.  At some point I went  from shoving toys under my bed in one fell swoop, to washing and drying dishes and vacuuming and taking out the garbage on a regular basis. 

I was reading a few blogs last week and came across this post over at The Happy Housewife.  I thought, wait a minute! I have a 4 year old, 5 year old, and 7 year old. and I never thought to even attempt to ask them to do half the chores on this list!  Could my 4 year old pull clothes out of the dryer? Could my 5 wipe down the sinks? Could my 7 year old vacuum? There was only one way to find out!

I set about creating a list of chores that my girls would be responsible for each day and I told them that those 6 things would be their daily contribution to running the household: Making their bed, getting their dirty clothes to the hamper, picking up and putting away toys, setting and clearing the table for meals, and putting clean folded clothes in their drawers.  Then I creating a long list of extras. These I called Helping Hands. I won't list them all but here are a few: Feed the dog, Help with meal prep, Unload the dishwasher, Dust.  Every time they complete a Helping Hand from this list they are given a token called a High Five that is worth 5 minutes of computer time (they LOVE to play on the computer).  When they have accumulated at least 15 minutes they can cash out. We are in the development stage of this reward system. As we progress I think I will add other rewards that they can "buy". I'm thinking they can "buy" a meal out, or "buy" some extra time to stay up, or "buy" a day off from chores, or cash out at the end of the week for a small allowance etc.  I have to think it through some more.

So far, so great.  The girls have really surprised me with their enthusiasm! We'll see how it's going in a month! HA!


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