In the South
I wouldn't call myself a brave person although I have done some scary things in my time just to feel the adrenalin kick in.
There's the usual stuff such as skydiving (despite a genuine dislike of heights), bungy jumping, whitewater rafting, some hairy downhill mountain biking, and I've certainly never shied away from too much.
I can also handle most spiders and little vermin, and while I squirm bit (actually quite a bit) at earwigs, I remain calm enough to deal with any problems of an animal nature.
But there's one thing that easily fills me with genuine unease and creates a chill at the bottom of my spine: the dreaded tantrum in a public place. There's no logical explanation for this fear. It can happen to any parent, right?
It's almost a rite of passage, a ritual that must be endured to earn another parenting badge, another been-there- done-that battle story to share with other parents.
Well, it's a badge or anecdote I don't want.
Most of the time, our two are pretty good children.
Sure, Piper is still of an age that she's easily sorted out, but the 3-year-old can be a different story. But most of the time he's really good in public. In fact, sometimes, when you least expect it, he's an absolute joy to have tag along on a shopping trip. Honestly.
We were lucky to miss the 'terrible twos' but we have been starting to see some resistance and backchat and sometimes those moments do happen in public.
So combine that potential for push- back with his unwillingness to try any new foods, and you can see why going out to a restaurant with him, as well as his sister throwing food off her highchair, could be a recipe for disaster.
It was with considerable trepidation that, upon their mother's insistence, we all ventured out to a restaurant on the second last night of our recent summer holiday (in autumn).
After all, the last thing you'd want is someone creating a scene in the middle of a packed eating establishment.
Zach and I had a good chat before going about what was going to happen and how he was going to behave and it seemed to sink in. Or at least the promise of going for a swim if he was a good boy seemed to help.
But full credit needs to go to the staff at the Wanaka Lone Star. Sure, we were there early (as in just after 5pm), but they're well set up and prepared for families. It's a pity that more places aren't.
There were plenty of other families with young children there as well, so it's obviously well known that they do a good job catering for little ones.
What was so special about the service you ask?
The kids got their food first, there were colouring pens offered straight away, and there was a genuine interest in having the kids there.
Zach might not have eaten much of his meal, but he certainly enjoyed his dessert and there was a good playground for him to burn off the pudding.
His sister was well behaved, apart from a few raspberries blown to entertain the crowds and a noticeable percentage of her food ending up rubbed in her hair, but overall it was an enjoyable experience.
So no war story to tell this time, thankfully.
* Mark Hotton is a fulltime journalist/ fulltime dad who is still dark he didn't get a lollipop when he bravely took his daughter for her dreaded 15-month vaccinations.
- The Southland Times