Restaurant Game Plan

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When it comes to taking the kids out to eat, I’ve found that the Snyder family has much in common with the Carolina Panthers. That’s because going out to eat is more than a meal; it has turned into an ADVENTURE!

Eating out can be a lot of fun. Someone else is cooking the meal, and the four of us spend quality time sharing a laugh, a song or a story. In addition, my daughter Sage looks at the experience as a reward for doing something positive, and most importantly, when we leave, someone else cleans up the mess. (To be fair, we sort of clean the table before we leave … sort of.)

The first time we attempted going out as a family was either a disaster or something we’ll cherish many (many, many, many) years down the road. Brayden was tired but could not fall asleep. So he threw a fit loud enough to interrupt the couple across the room from us, not to mention the chef in the kitchen and a family of four living in Bolivia. Sage ordered her food, but when it arrived, she decided she really didn’t want spaghetti WITH meat sauce, or her squiggly fries because she likes the long skinny kind. So Sage took her time eating, and when she finally finished (or to be more specific, when we decided Sage was finished), it was lunchtime the following day.

So now we imitate, of all things, the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers don’t go into a game without a game plan detailing how to handle situations. Similarly, neither do we. When it’s third and nine, the Panthers are probably going to pass the ball. If it is first and goal on the two-yard line, a running play might be in order. But sometimes it’s better to try and surprise the opposition. It’s a matter of risk versus reward. That’s similar to how Charisse and I look at the restaurant scenario. If Brayden is tired, we’ll choose a restaurant that has enough room for us to put Bray-Bear (cute, huh?) in his stroller. Then we’ll recline the stroller and actually wheel him around until he settles down, or more likely, falls asleep. If Sage refuses to eat her meal, we’ll wait it out if we have time, or we’ll give her some extra food we brought with us in the baby bag. If she’s really hungry, we might even box up her original order and get her something else. (I know, I know, we’re totally giving in, but you try dealing with a hungry kid after 90 minutes, especially if you have to be somewhere.) The point is, Charisse and I discuss scenarios before we go out to eat and come up with a restaurant game plan.

Now you might also wonder what we do when the kids are really bad? For that, we consult the Charlotte Bobcats playbook because they have been really bad all season.

Bruce Snyder is the sports director at Fox Charlotte. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Charisse; daughter, Sage; and son, Brayden.