Six years ago this month, Bill returned from a year long deployment to Kosovo. He took off for about a month, and we went on a vacation to Disney World, which is just about the stupidest thing to do. The stress of his return and the stress of traveling with 4 children under the age of 6 combined to make for a terrible time.
If you ask the kids, it was the best trip ever. They don't know that I called about an early return every day, but the additional cost kept me from doing it.
One thing we learned was that our children were incapable of behaving in restaurants. This is not a good thing to discover when you are spending a week in a hotel room with no kitchen.
Upon our return home, we instituted a no-restaurant policy for at least 6 months. It might even have been a year. I know we moved a year later, and I know we ate out. That may have been when we finally let them see the inside of a McDonald's. Then we tried a place like Denny's. They liked eating in restaurants, so they were motivated to be good.
Fast forward to this vacation, which intentionally was low-key and in a cottage with a kitchen. Eating out is now pretty expensive for our crew, and in this resort town we've noticed that restaurants automatically add 18% gratuity for parties of 8 or more. I have enjoyed our quiet and simple meals in this cottage, but we did budget for a few meals out, mostly at the beginning of our trip, but also last night, our final evening here.
Every time we have eaten out this trip, the children have been very well behaved. Mary, of course, stands on her seat and squirms around. And we do have to remind them all to talk quietly, even though adults in restaurants can be pretty loud. But they've been good. And they've been noticed. Every single time we have eaten out, at least one elderly person has stopped by our table to praise them. Last night, we had two.
I reminded Bill about our no eating out policy of 6 years ago. And before bed, I gathered the children to tell them how wonderful they've been. They've come a long way.