Then there was the time when Princess was 5 and we went out to eat with my MIL. Princess decided to crawl under the table numerous times but the best part was when she dunked her grandmother's roll in her coffee. Ever the gracious lady, my MIL, made the best of it but I was so embarrassed.
Over the years we learned that it was too stressful to take Princess out to eat at any sit down restaurant with wait service. We were relegated to fast food establishments or Princess's favorite, Soup Plantation, a serve yourself buffet style restaurant.
This brings us to my husband's recent birthday dinner. My husband chose The Cheesecake Factory to dine at. I knew we would have to wait for a bit to be seated. I came fully prepared. I packed a back pack full of sticker books and an iPad to keep my daughter occupied while we waited. Since Princess gets really hungry and thirsty at a moment's notice, I even packed juice and a snack. Lucky for us we were seated in twenty minutes. Princess wanted to sit next to the birthday boy and so I obliged her. He helped her to choose what she wanted to eat. Shortly afterwards the lovely waitress took our order. Of course Princess wanted to chat it up with the lady. I tried to explain to her that the waitress had other tables to wait on but ever the gracious host, the waitress obliged Princess and talked with her a bit.
When our appetizers came, Princess took her turn and even waited for them to cool down. During this time my husband and I were trying to have a conversation. Typically Princess doesn't like it when she is not the center of attention and tries to thwart our efforts to carry on adult conversations. Not this time, our daughter kept herself entertained while we talked.
Pretty soon our meal came. Princess is a pretty picky eater so I didn't have high hopes but my husband and I told her that if she didn't eat a good meal she wouldn't get some cheesecake. Well she surprised us and ate a decent meal.
When we were done eating, we decided that the birthday boy should get his own slice of cheesecake while Princess and I shared one. In the past Princess hasn't done well with any form of sharing (toys, food etc.), but lately she has been doing much better in this area. I was still holding my breath when the cheesecake came because things can turn on a dime in our little world. Well someone else must have taken my daughter because she actually shared her cheesecake with me while her dad ate his own slice. She never even complained once about having to share with me.
What surprised me even more about this whole dining out experience, was that Princess acted like any other neurotypical 8 year old child would. She did not go under the table. She did not lie down when she was done eating. She ate her food nicely and was polite the whole time. We did not have to leave because of an embarrassing meltdown.
In the past this has not been the case at all. This goes to show that persistence pays off.
I think one of the keys for us has been that we are trying to sit as a family at the dining room table at least three times a week. This is where we practice our table manners instead of doing this in the restaurant.
Yea for mom, dad and Princess!