"We Don't Let Dorothy Crack The Eggs Anymore" Chapter 12, "Eating Out"

 My father has a theory that children are like pets. Keep 'em a little hungry and they'll do their best tricks ... or something like that.
Overfeed them, he says, and they turn deaf to your commands. Disobedient pups and kids run on full stomachs -- get the picture?

I forgot.
In a non-guarded moment I announced that the cherubs four would help celebrate Mommy's
birthday by going out to dinner with her and the rest of the clan. "Royal Castle??? Whee!"

(Before this new experience they thought the zenith of living was downing three Royal Castle burgers and a birch beer.)

"The Coral Gables Country Club," I said.

"By the pool?" they chorused back. They still didn't get the Big Picture.

"In the dining room. You can dress up and eat with big people with tablecloths on the table --at night!"

We rehearsed good manners for four days. Running. Me running out of time and patience, them running down and out.) Came the big night. Naturally, the best laid plans were fouled up by my Mouseketeers.  We didn't sit down to order until 7:30 p.m              .

As the bread was placed on the table, it looked like payday at the mines! Ravenously, they tore into the rolls, smeared butter up their arms and crumbed up the long table for 12.

"I know why it takes so long," ventured five-year-old Lisa. "Because we're a long family."

For the next half hour they concocted liquid confections -- sugar water cocktails -- while discussing what they REALLY wanted on the menu was -- and not what had been ordered for them.

"See my new shoes?" exulted 8-year-old Billy, taking them off and holding them aloft to nearby guests.

(If I had been raising them by Dr. Spock, I could have expected one of them to stand up and shout his hue-and-cry, "Get out of Viet Nam!")

Several trips to the powder room gave them a chance to stretch their legs, but I would have preferred the three girls had rearranged their petticoats before re-entering the dining room.

Coral Gables Country Club serves up pitchers of draft beer on Friday nights which mouth-watered the adults present. Can't you guess other guests' reactions when two of the moppets loudly demanded, "Why can't we have some beer?"

Salt, pepper and ketchup poured all too freely, a mish-mash of seasoning which you'd think would make them swear off this food for life. They filled up on so much bread, soup and salad that their entree plates looked like our playing "The Untouchables."

"After all, they're only children," indulged their grandparents, aunt, uncle and friends, who somehow gave the feeling they hoped no one there could know who we were.

It was the admonishment of four-year-old Dorothy that broke us up, however.

"Don't lick your knife here," whispered her aunt. "You can do it at home but not here."

Dorothy's reply was, "But I can't take the knife home!"