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Friday, February 17, 2006

Three Young Children = Great Restaurant Service

We all trekked out this evening to a favorite Chinese restaurant of ours. We frequently ate at this restaurant on a regular basis even before we had any kids so the waitresses there know us well. Whenever we dine there, we get the familiar greeting of, "Hi, nice to see you again" or "Haven't seen you for a while!"

Our family size has increased over the past five years from just the two of us to three kids and one in my womb. We have finally reached a point where we get looks and comments from people. They were all quite surprised to see our three young kids there, and with one look at me with my bulging belly, they gasped again. Another one?! Four?! Yup! I'm beginning to get used to these kinds of comments nowadays:
  • Wow, you must be tired.
  • You sure have your hands full.
  • So, you're having a fourth one?
  • You will have four so you shouldn't have any more. Four is "just right!"
  • Certainly you're not going to have another one after the fourth, are you?
  • How old are your kids again?
  • Do you have a nanny?
  • Surely you must have another helper with so many kids.
Normally I'd be annoyed with these comments but I wasn't at all tonight. Rather, I found it amusing. It was especially amusing as we became the spectacle of the entire restaurant staff, since we had dinner before the regular rush hour. Many waitresses stopped by at least once to comment and say how cute our kids are. I even noticed that some customers came by to look at our family. We even ended up getting great service from the waitresses because a different one wandered by every five minutes or so. It was interesting to us that they'd often just stand next to our table and look at us and comment—sometimes to us and sometimes to one another. All of them seemed to be in disbelief. We didn't mind it this time because our dining needs were taken care of about every five minutes. "Oh, you want more rice? I'll get you more of that." They also quickly cleared away any empty plates. They even cautioned us when our son's booster seat began to slip off the chair. (As a sidenote, all of the children were quite well behaved; which I'm sure made a good impression on the staff, which might otherwise have been very critical rather than curious.)

We live in a very affluent area and most people have one or at most two kids. This is especially prevalent in our Chinese community. We realize that we're quite counter-cultural in this area which is why we were so "popular" tonight. The comment "You sure have your hands full!" has become so ubiquitous that I normally just nod my head. Inwardly, though, I don't really like this remark and have wished for a better or witty response. A blogger I recently read has a great response to this: "Yes, and my heart is full as well." I like this. I think I'll try this next time. Even though it is hard to care for three little ones and soon to be four, my heart is full. One look at God's many blessings to us, my heart just melts. At the very least, I always have lots of amusing stories to tell each day. Somehow in the midst of distress and discouragement, one of my kids is always able to make me laugh, whether on purpose or not. Why would I trade that for anything?