Dining out with children is an exercise in situational awareness. Each experience is unique, with different variables leading to different possible outcomes, DEFCON-like in their escalating threat levels. Keen observation, forward planning and prior experience are critical in determining the proper strategy. Here at DEFCON Dining, we do the grunt work for you. It ain't always pretty.
|Photo by Nicholas L. Hall|
|Vegetables and fish-dip. Apparently, this is kid food.|
Talking your children through what's expected of them at dinner is not always enough. If you don't actually put them out there, in the trenches with live fire, they'll never be truly ready. I'm not talking Applebee's, here. That would be like preparing soldiers for war by having them play the balloon-popping squirt gun games at a carnival. Sure, they might win a giant teddy bear, but they still won't know what to do when the shrapnel is flying. If you want them to be ready to eat at real restaurants, you have to take them to real restaurants.We're finally making some real headway, as discussed in my recent post about Oxheart.
We've spent a lot of time and effort putting our kids, and ourselves, through DEFCON Dining boot camp. With each success, and each failure, we've learned valuable lessons about how to win this particular war. When we decided to spend a few days in Austin over the summer, we decided to put those lessons into action, taking the kids along to one of the nicer places we'd hazarded in a while, and I had Foreign & Domestic in the cross hairs.
Vacations can be a great time to hazard a nice meal with your kids; the sense of adventure is ripe, and it's a good idea to pluck it while you can. We planned our dinner after a day of kayaking, extending the sense of newness and excitement. We also planned it before a couple of activities high on the kids' itinerary. A healthy balance of carrots and sticks can be tremendously motivational. Fortunately, we didn't end up needing any of the sticks, and the meal provided its own carrots.More »