Kids love to go out to eat, but let’s face it, there is quite a difference between sitting around the table at home and spending sometimes up to a couple of hours at a restaurant table.
As adults, we look forward to a dinner out as a way to relax. We enjoy the pace of the meal, each dish arriving when we are ready for it, enjoying a good glass of wine, one slow sip after another, and the conversation as it shifts the focus back to shared dreams and humor.
When dining out with the kids, we hope to instill in them an appreciation for a leisurely meal and reprieve from the activities of the day, but of course a child’s mind is a playful mind. A teachable moment can be a playful moment too. In fact, what if a child’s requirement for play were an invitation to the adults in their lives to honor their own playfulness?
Following are two games that can be played at the table either at home or while eating out. They do not require any accessory, so it is easy to play anywhere.
Do You Know Me?
This first game is often a favorite because it invites children to highlight something about themselves. If you are dining with several children, select one randomly, perhaps by flipping a coin.
Then, in turn, everyone around the table asks this child a question pertaining to his or her tastes or favorite topics or friends. In other words, you are conducting an interview.You may even use a utensil or rolled napkin as a make-believe microphone. This can introduce a game rule whereby only the person with the microphone and the interviewee can speak at that moment.
After everyone has asked a question and received an answer, you might flip the coin again to decide who will be the next interviewee. The trick for the adults is to focus the questions about your child’s strong points and interests. If he or she does not like school, do not bring that up. However, do ask questions about the aspects of school you know the child enjoys, allowing focus on this for a while.
For this game, you can begin by flipping a coin also to decide who goes first. Children always go before adults. Ask the first child to name a food he or she does not like. Let’s say it’s broccoli. Then, begin a story with a Mr. Broccoli, for instance, saying a few first sentences and asking each person around the table, beginning with the child who named the despised food, to continue the story. Go around the table a couple of times and make up a conclusion when you feel moved to do so. It is then the next child’s turn to name their yucky food… and another silly tale begins.
Obviously, you do not want this to get out of hand. Play is a good way to introduce restraint. A bored child may get noisy because they need attention. A child who feels he is part of a shared experience will more readily accept certain game rules, such as keeping a moderate voice and waiting for their turn to speak.
Ho! And use your iPhone to capture the moment. A note: Making calls or check your mail is not allowed. There must be rules for grown-ups too you know!
Have fun – To be continued…