Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The strangest thing happened...

We took the kids to a Des Moines restaurant called Ohana, a teppanyaki restaurant where they cook your food on a grill right at your table. You share a table with other diners unless you have a really large party - I think each table seats 10. They flip knives around and throw stuff, it's very cool. Until this time, this restaurant has been "our" place, meaning neither Vic or I have taken a date there before we were married. Silly, but sometimes silly things are still special. Finally though, our desire to share such a neat place with the kids overcame our silly possessiveness of the restaurant.

While we were waiting for our table, we sat in the lounge next to a biker-type guy with a bandanna on his head, his trashy looking female counterpart, and two young girls. When my daughters crowded around Vic for hugs and kisses, just because, this trailer park family giggled and whispered and hung all over each other saying, "Oh I LOVE you!" in mockery. I guess they thought there was something weird about parent/child affection? When they called our names, we learned we would be sharing a table with Trailer Park Family, and the mom whispered (loudly) to the biker dude, "Great, we get to share a table with the happy family with their little kids." (Hello, Bitch, I can hear you.) I centered myself and refused to let them ruin our meal, even though my first impulse was to punch her.

Vic and I had just been to this restaurant last weekend while the kids overnighted with Grandma and had been disappointed with our chef. He was kinda boring and his jokes weren't very funny and well, he was kind of a jerk. There was a drunk lady harassing him, so that may have had something to do with it. Either way, you can imagine how I felt when I saw the same chef pushing his little cart our to our table on our kids' first trip to this really neat place. Throughout the introductions and preparation of the appetizer, we learned Trailer Park Family consisted of Mom and daughters, 10 and 12, and stand-in boyfriend biker guy. The chef asked some I-really-don't-care questions about school and classes and stuff and the girls responded in the normal way: school kinda sucks, favorite "classes" are recess and lunch, not very good at any subject, etc. Then he turned to my kids and asked what grade they were in. "We homeschool," I told him. He looked uncomfortable, and I almost cringed when he said, "...Oh."

He said, "Um.. I don't want to be rude or anything, but.. well.. are you homeschooling because you don't believe in evolutionary theory?" I almost laughed. "Oh no," I said, "We're not homeschooling for religious reasons if that's what you're asking." He smiled and said, "So you homeschool because the current school system, based on an outdated institutional structure, fails to produce anything but moderately literate individuals incapable of independent thought..." he went on and on like this. I was dumbstruck. "Yeah, that's the one," I said finally. He asked my kids a thousand questions, and when Chad told him his favorite subject was science, the chef turned his cart sideways to show us a sticker that said "Talk Nerdy To Me," and rattled on about the best science magazines and books. He was delighted that we owned some Azimov and told us to look for some of his non-fiction publications because they were fascinating (which I will definitely do). Trailer Park Family squirmed a lot and chatted amongst themselves, and finally started making rude comments like, "I think I fell asleep for a second there." The Chef ignored them and continued serving food and chatting with us. He even went into significant detail about a teaching theory he'd read about, the name of the book, and the basics of the theory, finishing with, "See, I'm homeschooled too, only I'm homeschooling myself."

When we left our table, Chad and Cadence had to stop at the bathroom and Vic took Riley to get the car. I stood at the bar waiting for my older kids, and our chef was there talking to some of the other employees. He told me to keep up the good work, that what Vic and I are doing for our kids is a great thing, and that he doesn't often see such well-adjusted, intelligent kids as ours. I felt so great when we left that place. I know I'm doing the right thing for my kids. I know they're well-adjusted and intelligent. But since most of the feedback we get from family and people we come into contact with every day is negative or completely uninterested, it's great to get some compliments sometimes. We'll be returning to this restaurant with our children, and we might just ask for this chef again.

3 comments:

Deanna said...

Ahhh! What a great story! I think I love that chef of yours!

RegularMom said...

That is so encouraging. And I can't believe that Biker Trailer Trash family acting like that. How awful.

Ami said...

Just goes to show ya, stereotypes exist for a reason. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and acts like a duck...

Or should I say if it looks like trailer trash....