Mr. Sandy is in New Hampshire this weekend, sledding with friends. It's an annual thing they do that sometimes coincides with Valentine's Day, about which we don't much care anyhow (especially now that Russell Stover no longer makes the Elvis Presley collector's tin of chocolates).
Yes, I said sledding. I should add that they aren't sliding down little golf course hills like school kids. They take several hours to hike up a mountain, then sled down the whole thing at great speed. I went myself a couple of times, before we had children. It's really, really fun.
Anyway, I have the girls to myself this weekend, which is also fun. Yesterday they had friends over, then we chilled out and watched March of the Penguins (which, if you haven't seen, do. It's a stunning movie.)
All of a sudden it was dinnertime, and I decided on the spur of the moment to go out to eat. We opted for a local casual place we like. It was very busy, but we waited just a few minutes for a table. Getting settled, I overheard from the table behind us: "Omigod, I would NEVER bring kids. They WRECK holidays."
It took me a minute to realize what "holiday" we had wrecked by our mere appearance. I'd forgotten it was Valentine's Day. So sorry! But you know... if you want a quiet Valentine's Day dinner, maybe don't choose to go at 6:00 PM to a place with a children's menu? Just a thought.
Valentine's Day notwithstanding, there are times when I take the girls to a restaurant (and I promise you I'm not talking Le Cirque; we go to appropriate places), and I register that unmistakably dismayed eye contact between people dining at adjacent tables as we sit down.
I do understand. Lord knows I have had my fair share of meals/flights/whatever disrupted by obnoxious whining rugrats and their inept parents. But here's the thing: I have well-behaved kids. Yes, I am biased in their favor, but I also work very hard to rear children with good manners, and the consistent hard work pays off. They know what's expected of them. They say "please" and "thank you." They do not shriek in restaurants. They know that if they pull something like that, we will leave.
What often happens is that people who expected to be put out by the girls' presence end up complimenting them on their good behavior. Which is nice, but those not-so-subtly exchanged looks can be demoralizing, even if you eventually decided we didn't warrant the eye rolling after all. The benefit of the doubt would be a nice change of pace.
We're not the only ones. There are lots of well-behaved children out there, and lots of parents working hard to make it so. Our families don't deserve your preemptive scorn.
So please, fellow diners. Save your obvious displeasure for when kids actually are being brats -- at which time, I'll join you. Unless they're my kids, in which case we've already left.