Taking your kids out in public

I thought we needed a kind of trivial post for today to lighten the mood.

Last night I was at a restaurant here in San Antonio, and there was a family at a nearby table with a mom, dad, and four kids. The oldest kid was maybe 8, and the youngest looked around three.

When they walked in, I thought, "Those parents are going to have a handful during this meal." But no. Those kids were calm and happy the entire time, and talked and entertained themselves and each other while they waited for their food, then ate happily. The two littlest ones started to get antsy about 5 minutes before they got their check, which was amazing timing.

I was going to talk to the parents to tell them how cute their kids were and also ask them what their secret was, but I went to the bathroom and by the time I got back they were gone. So I was thinking about it all night, and realized that was was striking wasn't that the kids were "well-behaved" but that they seemed genuinely content, and like they were enjoying each other. The parents were super-calm about the whole process, and the kids got to choose what they wanted to eat from the kids' menu, and seemed to really understand the restaurant thing. (Which goes back to my theory that you have to press through the crappy restaurant stage if you want to get your kids used to being able to eat in restaurants.)

I got the feeling that the parents had expectations and boundaries, and the kids were used to those but were treated as people within those boundaries.

I wanted to tell this story first of all because I love seeing happy families, but also because I wanted to tell those of you with kids who are going through the not-fit-for-public-consumption phase that it will get better. Follow your instincts and keep the appropriate boundaries, and get their drinks in cups with lids.

Anyone else see any good parenting this week? Have any problems with your kids in public?