Thursday, October 28, 2010

Proper Playground Etiquette

As a stay at home mom with a Toddler, more often than not I find myself at the playground.  And why not?!  It's a great place for the tots to get some exercise and also ( and perhaps more importantly ) a chance for them to practice their budding social skills. However, for me, it's not always fun and games at the park.  While my little one is running around and having a ball, I am chasing after her, making sure she is safe and also reminding her of certain rules....

For instance -

You need to use the stairs!  Just because you saw some big kids climbing up the slide doesn't mean you have to copy them.  For you, the slide is a way to go DOWN not UP.

Wait your turn.  I know you are faster than some of the other kids, but just because it takes you half the time to get up the stairs, does not mean you get to go down the slide twice as often.  Patience is a virtue...granted not one most two year olds possess, but it's a virtue none the less.

DO NOT run out in front of other children while they are swinging.  As far away as they may seem at certain times, they will be close enough to take you out in one swift motion in a matter of seconds.

Oh yes, and let's not forget to not pick up everyone that is smaller than you.  They may look little and cute, but honey so do you. That half an inch you got over them is not enough to pick them up and carry them around like your new favorite dolly. Also, they tend to cry when you try to....

That's the general routine.  Add to that the small attempts I make to socialize with other moms in between maneuvering my daughter and I am busy, busy, busy.  It also doesn't help my stress level that my kid tends to lean towards children that are older than her.  For some reason children her own age or younger just don't hold her interest for very long.  In general I wouldn't have a problem with this, except of course, for the fact that at 2 1/2 she is not as coordinated as a 4 or 5 year old is.  Unfortunately, that slows her down about as much as it speeds my heart rate up. So, I watch and try not to hover as she tears through the place, running and jumping and climbing just as fast as her two little feet will carry her.

On occasion I have also found that the older children she's so fond of, also tend to be a bit controlling, sometimes even bully-ish.  That has been challenging for the both of us.  She gets confused and doesn't understand why someone is being mean and I get hurt and wonder what I should be teaching my baby.  One day a little boy took her stuffed animal ( it goes everywhere she goes) and held it hostage.  When she came to me, I told her to say please and ask for it back. When that didn't work, I went to get it from him myself.  He proceeded to hurl her little toy up into the air and across the park.  My daughter was in tears and I wanted to shove that little snot into the ground...but I can't teach my kid that.  Thankfully, his mother was right there and once aware of the situation, handled it immediately. But, what do I do in the future?  What if the next bully has a mom who is completely oblivious?  What if the next time, I'm not even there and she's at preschool? I want to teach her to be strong and to defend herself, but how do I do that without turning her into a bully as well?  For now I guess I will settle for working on her communication skills.  If talking to the bully doesn't work, at least she can come and talk to me or a teacher and then it will be up to a grown up to handle things...and if need be - shove someone into the ground.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Things YOU Should Know Before Eating OUT

Having spent the last 10 years in the hospitality industry, I have encountered a lot of things I never knew about restaurants and how they run.  For instance, on Sundays when business is slow don't be surprised to find the kitchen missing a dishwasher...crazy as it seems, I have worked plenty of places where EVERYONE has to help out and pick up the slack and do the dishes.  Everyone, meaning the servers mostly.  This can easily explain why you may find yourself waiting 10 minutes for an ice tea you expected to be sipping moments after you ordered it. Allow me to walk you through it...You order your beverage, your server returns to the drink station only to find that nobody has stocked clean glasses.  So, he or she hurries back to the kitchen in hopes of finding a clean glass rack just waiting to be brought out, instead they find several racks of DIRTY glasses and an empty dish pit.  They quickly run the glasses through the machine and run back out to the drink station to get back to your ice tea.  At this point of course, the glasses are piping hot and your ice tea is less icy and more luke warm, so your server is frantically trying to chill the glass and keep your tea from getting watered down.  Finally you get your beverage, and rather than being grateful for everything that went into this one glass of ice tea, you are annoyed and make comments to your fellow dining associates about how slow, and possibly stupid, your waiter is.  And you wonder why we
 joke about spitting in your drinks... .

So, here's some helpful hints for practicing proper dining out etiquette in the future -


When you walk in through the front doors and you are greeted by the hostess, let her know if you have a table preference.  Don't wait until you get to your table to ask for a booth.  This may lead to you getting a dirty table, sitting in a section that is closed and no longer has a server or sitting in a section where the server is so busy it will be a long time before they even notice you are sitting there.  The truth is, that whole restaurant rises and falls with how the host or hostess does their job.  If they don't rotate the servers, servers become overloaded and fall behind, providing you with bad service.  Also, it's their job to keep a nice pace going so that the kitchen can keep up, because once the kitchen gets buried, it's all downhill from there.  So, as simple as it may seem to point at a table and say 'I want that one'- it's not.  If it were, they wouldn't need the hostess.

Tipping is not optional.  If you cannot afford to tip, go to McDonald's.  The standard for good service is 20%, if your service was adequate it's OK to lean towards 15%.  If you are leaving a 10% tip I have to assume that the service was either horrible or you are an ignorant jackass.  More often than not, it's the latter.  Server's make less than minimum wage, most of which goes to taxes and therefore we rarely actually see a paycheck.  What you tip is what we make, it's the industry.  If you want to be pissed about having to tip, be pissed, but don't take it out on us, we are simply doing our jobs...and we expect to get paid for it just as you do for yours.

DO NOT ask me to make sure your food is hot before I bring it out to you.  The only way I can be sure is if I stick my finger in that really what you want?  No, you want me to bring it to you assuming it's fine, then when it's not, you can tell me and I will gladly re-heat it or bring you something new.

A lot of servers don't write the orders down.  Don't question it.  It's not that we are geniuses, it's just that we know that menu inside and out and we know what we can handle.  Worst case scenario if I forget an order, I glance back over at you or possibly scan the menu, trust me, it always comes right back. 

IF you get your food and find that something is wrong and it's not the way you ordered it, please, do not jump to conclusions.  Believe it or not, I have seen many food tickets go to the cook, who didn't read it properly, then go to the expo (the person who adds the finishing touches and puts together each table's orders) who reads it wrong and then it may even go to the food runner, who checks the food and compares it to the order and STILL they don't get it right.  Let's review, the server took your order and then sent it to the kitchen CORRECTLY and then 3 other people screwed up.  See why you can't always blame it on your waiter?

Last, but not least, be kind to your server.  We are people just like you, and we deserve your respect.  We may be waiting on you, but we are in no way beneath you.  And while I personally haven't seen anyone spit in a drink or put hair in someone's food....I would never say never... .