Several years ago, our family went on our first cruise together. Nathan and I were excited, and a little apprehensive about the formal sit-down dining experience. The kids were 7 and 4, at the time, and while they’re used to sitting around our family table, and occasionally eating at restaurants that didn’t prominently feature a playground; a formal sit down in the main cruise dining area was a bit daunting. We did our best to prep the kids and talk up how exciting it was going to be to eat in the big dining room, to try new foods, and to have conversations with new people. I don’t know who was more excited or nervous.
The first night of the cruise, we were led through the gorgeous dining room to a table by the railing with a view of the diners below us, and the captain’s table.
The kids were enchanted by the chandeliers, the servers in their suits, and the flurry of activity all around. Our server came up and greeted us as Mr. and Mrs. Matthews, and then turned to the kids and with a little bow greeted them as Mr. and Miss. Matthews; to say they were enchanted is putting it mildly. Daniel explained the menu to the kids, and treated them like honored guests, instead of just extensions of Nathan and myself. This was huge.
Their previous restaurant experiences usually had the server talking only to Nathan and myself, and treating our kids as if they were invisible, or incapable of speaking for themselves.
To have Daniel treat them with respect and kindness made a huge impression on my kids, and on Nathan and myself. Each night of the cruise, Daniel asked about their day, urged them to try the Didja Ever (which is the menu item section designed to take people out of their food comfort zones) and gave them origami that he made in his stateroom out of that day’s Fun Times.
Daniel made my children feel special, he made them feel like they were worthy of his attention, and he helped them to develop conversation skills, and gain an appreciation for trying new things. My kids came away from that cruise with a new appreciation for dining in restaurants and trying new things; and my husband and I came away with renewed knowledge that it really is the little things that make a difference.
Giving your time, attention, and respect to everyone no matter their age.
Understanding that kids, while young, will grow and treating them like people, instead of extensions of their parents is huge for their self-esteem. Making a difference doesn’t always happen in grand gestures, sometimes it’s small conversations, handmade crafts, or just making eye contact and showing kindness.
Want to meet purveyors who are making a difference with their customers? Check out BonAppetit.com’s “Out of the Kitchen”, an ongoing exploration of the relationships that build and sustain the food industry. See how hyper-local food markets operate and how their focus on quality and service keep customers coming back for more.