I think, in general, people parent their children based on what's important to them. For me, it's extremely important for my children to: 1. Sleep; and 2. Act properly in public. If there's one thing I cannot stand, it's
other people's children obnoxious children in public. (I work in a pediatrics clinic. Good lord.)
We've always brought our kids to places that aren't specifically child-friendly, because they're (generally) well-behaved in public, and part of that is nature, but a lot of it is nurture. I've been bringing Cora to adult events since she was very young. When she was 3, we took her to see a UK undergraduate performance of Pirates of Penzance, in a very small venue on campus. I could just feel the old ladies shooting daggers at me, expecting my kid to be a nightmare. Cora's always had a remarkable attention span when watching movies, TV, or live performances. Probably too much so (she's a total couch potato like me). She'd been to movies, she would make it the entire time in church, and I figured that she would make it all the way through the opera. She did. All the old ladies around us marveled at how well-behaved she was and how well she paid attention. I felt smugly vindicated (and immensely relieved).
We spend a considerable amount of time (and money) eating out. It's the major source of entertainment here. So, Cora and Vee have spent a lot of time in restaurants and, as a result of our efforts, learned to behave in them. I can only remember a handful of times where I had to take Cora or Vee out of a restaurant for bad behavior (and I'm sure we'll have more to come with Vee). It gets nipped in the bud very quickly, which is part of why it doesn't happen very often. But my restaurant rules are: 1. Keep your butt in your chair; 2. Do not disturb others in the restaurant with noise or any other activity; and 3. Do not touch me with your sticky fingers, particularly if I am dry clean only.
Vee is a different sort of beast though. I don't anticipate being able to take her to the opera when she's 3. She doesn't have the attention span that Cora did at her age for TV. Vee is much more active. One of her favorite things is to "GO." She will bring us her shoes to put on her, then she grabs her coat and walks to the baby gate at the top of the stairs, banging on it, yelling "GO!" (This weekend has completely confused her as she didn't need her coat.) She will on occasion watch a little TV, but the only thing that ever holds her attention for more than a minute is the Elmo Ducks video on YouTube (Elmo has four ducks, quack quack, four birds of a feather, quack quack. Kill me). She likes to be read the exact same books 14,000 times, but beyond a few scenes of Little Einsteins, she's bored. (She does, however, enjoy watching "Austin & Ally" so long as Austin Moon is singing. She is an Austin Moon fangirl, and knows how to get to the "Austin & Ally" soundtrack in the iPod.)
Anyway, although Vee is a big fan of eating food, she hasn't been a big fan of sitting her butt in the chair to do it. She's been my problem child with trying to wander off with the food. So, we've been working very hard on "butt stays in the chair" and "food does not leave the table," which are the two rules for home. (I don't discourage feeding the dog from the table, although I should. These days, though, Vee is less interested in feeding Bernie than she is shooing Bernie away in offense that she would consider eating her food.) Easy enough when she's in a high chair in a restaurant, not so easy when she's eating at the girls' little table at home.
So, we've worked really hard on "food stays at the table" when she's having a snack. This usually results in the world coming to an end, and wailing pitifully at the unfairness of it all, that she cannot spread her crumbs all over the house. And, of course, our response is:
Do you want ants? BECAUSE THAT'S HOW YOU GET ANTS!
But, we had a breakthrough this past week. She left the table with food still in her hand, to go get a book, and I shooed her back to the table telling her that food stays at the table. She put the food back on the plate, went to get her book, returned to the table to finish her snack and read her book. She's kept her butt in the chair and food on the plate ever since.
And, very cutely, she puts her shoes back where they belong when she takes them off (something Cora still doesn't do). I might just get the little beastie civilized yet.