My husband and I have always spent too much money going out to eat. We were together for over thirteen years before having Teghan, so you can imagine how many opportunities we had to hang out in restaurants. It was about nine years into our relationship before either of us had a job that required us to be up before noon, so a good percentage of our twenties were spent over breakfast and coffee with friends at three in the morning. Or, in those early poor years- sharing an appetizer platter at Lums.
We didn’t know how good we had it.
These days we go out to eat once a week. Sure, I blow a lot of money on carryout. Especially at work. But once a week the two of us actually go to a restaurant together for a lunch date. Alone. We order breakfast and coffee and dream about our future. Just like the old days.
If you don’t have a restaurant where they know your order when you walk in the door, you should work on that. Shop around, go to other places as the mood strikes you- but having a regular spot is invaluable. Find the right atmosphere and comfort. Get to know the staff. Tip more than you usually would, even if you consider yourself an excellent tipper.
There are perks to being a favored customer. You feel welcome. You get the best service. The staff look genuinely happy to see you. And on a stressful day, maybe even relieved. There is no brief flash of disappointment across their faces when you enter the room. You know the look. And even though we almost never take Teghan out to restaurants, it’s a place where we could take her and not feel so anxious.
That by itself is invaluable, and something we have not taken advantage of. Our regular hostess and waiter from Wednesday brunch call us by name and know exactly how we like our eggs, but they have never met our daughter. Why not? They would go out of their way to be accommodating. We wouldn’t feel as uncomfortable if she suddenly bolted from the table, screamed, ate all the crayons, dumped every drink, or started spitting water into other containers. And at least two of those things would probably happen.
Friends or family want to meet for a meal outside of school hours? We wouldn’t have to waste time debating our options or selling the idea of pizza at our house for the millionth time (although that is still our first choice). We’d have a place. Our place. If we encountered any other customers who were less than understanding, the staff would have our back.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes she’s an angel. But we must stay ahead of her every move. I mean, we wouldn’t necessarily enjoy a relaxed meal, but if we were to fail our mission by dropping our guard it would be less….horrifying? Maybe we would even be able to find the humor in her antics while we were still in the restaurant.
And who cares? One of my first posts on this blog was about the fear of an “incident” and what I had learned from my husband’s epilepsy. Talk about restaurant embarrassment. My husband’s seizures have created more situations than anything Teghan can dish out. Teghan has never overturned six tables at a Mexican restaurant (yet).
I do still believe that the most embarrassing situations make the best memories.
We need the practice. Teghan needs the practice. And it should happen at a place where they know us. We’ve already won them over, and we’ve been making payments toward their hassle for quite some time now. Time to cash in.
A family restaurant night. Once a week. We can do this. And if you don’t have your own restaurant that feels like home, what are you waiting for?