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The Restaurant Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke

by Hal Evan Caplan
November 1, 2008

The Restaurant Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned TykeMy tyke is good at what he does, and he is good at teaching me lessons. Believe it or not, he teaches me life's little lessons on a regular basis. He may not realize that he is actually doing this, but nonetheless, I do, and I am always willing to learn from him. You have to understand, the lessons that I learn from him take place anywhere...anytime.

Eating at restaurants can be fun. Let me rephrase that; it can be fun, but also very frustrating. Depending on several factors, like poor service, poor food, or even in some cases poor company (I won't go there...), dining out can be a hit or miss proposition. Until recently, I was not aware that restaurants can also be institutes of higher learning. At least it was for me with a recent lesson I learned from my teacher.

Recently, my wife wanted to go check out a new restaurant that opened in the next town over from where we live. My wife, my teacher and I jumped into the car and drove to our destination. To me, this seemed like a great idea, especially since she was not in the mood to cook and neither was I. Besides, there were no leftovers in the refrigerator and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or a bowl of cereal did not appeal to either of us. As far as my teacher was concerned, he didn’t care either way. To him, eating food is eating food...end of story.

After being seated by the host, my teacher opened his little surprise that was placed on the table in front of him. The gift consisted of 3 different colored crayons and a black and white kids menu to be colored. On the back of the menu were games such as tic-tack-toe and find the objects from the bottom of the page hidden somewhere in the larger picture. He doesn't quite have the concept of tic-tack-toe yet; but that's okay, his version is more interesting... which is placing the "X's" and "O's" on top of each other... that way, NO ONE wins or loses.

As our food arrived, he was speaking a mile a minute about his day. I had no idea that my teacher was about to start his lesson... actually in this case to remind me of something that I already know.

My wife expressed that he should wait a little bit so his food could cool down. That was a great idea because as the steam rose up and his food cooled down and, my teacher continued to just yap away... not aware of his surroundings.

"Don't forget, you DO need to eat... not just talk." I called out.

Without missing a beat, he picked up a few fries, stuffed them into his mouth and continued on with his story. Instantly, a glimpse of that vague teacher's voice from Charles Schultz's "Peanuts" cartoon echoed throughout my head. "WHAaaAA waahhHHH WaWaHhH".

...then my wife jumped in and asked my teacher if speaking with his mouth full of food was a good choice or a bad choice. This brought me back to reality, and continued on with my duties as a parent.

"Bad choice... but I 'CAN' do both at the same time ya know...it's faster." He replied.
"What do you mean faster?" I questioned.

"...you can do 2 things at the same time...it's faster." He responded.

That's an interesting twist, and one I've not heard before. I thought to myself that I do have to give him kudos for originality.

"I know it may be faster, but that is not the point." I piped in.
"What do you mean, Dad, 'the point'?" He asked.
"Even though you might be able to do something, doesn't mean it is the best idea." I stated proudly, feeling that my delivery was on target.

My teacher then "dug-in" to more fries and finally there was little to zero talk from my teacher.

Thinking back about this situation, it was pretty sad that I didn't retain the thing that I had taught my teacher, and worse yet, something that was just mentioned to him moments earlier... (I'll plead the 5th on that one).

As I began to eat, my teacher asked me a question.
"Dad...do you want to hear something cool?" He asked.
"Sure." I responded, even though I was still chewing my food.
"Today, at lunch, I ate a salad." He expressed in a very exciting manner.
"That is amazing... I am so proud of you... did you eat it all? Did you like it?" I asked one after another because we have been trying to get him to eat salad for a while now...with no luck... and I was excited to hear this.

"Dad, you are still eating!" He pointed out.

"You're right." I mumbled back.

"Dad I'm sorry to say that I am going to have to remind you…" He paused.

"That it's not nice to talk with your mouth full of food! ... and it's yuckie." He concluded.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: I had to be reminded not to talk with my mouth full of food because not only is it rude, but it is also very unpleasant.


About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, especially snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.


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