We love Benihana. I know it's a chain and true "foodies" are supposed to hate all chains, but we love it. It's an occasional treat, though, because it's a little spendy for an everyday type of thing. We felt like splurging tonight so we had dinner there. We love that they cook the food right in front of us, and it's just a very relaxed dinner. Your courses are one at a time - soup, salad, rice, shrimp appetizer, vegetables, meat. Tim always gets the Hibachi Shrimp and I always get the Chateaubriand. The only negatives we have about eating there is the length of the wait and sometimes the people we are at a table with.
We took care of the wait problem by making reservations, which is probably what we'll be doing from now on. It was very nice to not have to wait for an hour for an open cooking table. We arrived a few minutes before our reservation, though, and while we were waiting to be seated, we noticed that there was a large party with three young girls who were being young girls. They were loud, giggly, and running everywhere. Tim said "You just know we'll be at their table." I laughed because it did seem like that would be our bad luck. They were seated about ten minutes before we were, though, so we thought we were clear. Then they called our name and we followed the host into the dining room, and guess who was already at the table. So we basically had mom and dad, a late-teens, early 20's daughter, and three "tweens". The three of them were sitting in a row. The one in the middle was the know-it-all. She was loud, giggly, and the one hitting the table with the chopsticks, etc. The one to her right was the funny one. She was egging her friend on and joining in the chopstick hitting. The girl to her left was the quiet one who got ignored by her friends all night. By the time we got our check, I wanted to reach over and give her a hug. She was teary-eyed by the time we left the table. I think when you have an uneven number of friends, ESPECIALLY girls, this is a very common dynamic. One person always gets left out. Most of the time, when I was young, that was me, so I really felt for this little girl. She was teased by her friends the whole night, when they even bothered to talk to her.
We tend to think of our childhood as an idyllic time. I think we have the benefit of time and distance that allows us to think that, though. I remember even way back to elementary school there were politics among groups of friends, and the cliques were even more pronounced during high school. Although as adults, we have what we consider to be "real" problems - money, jobs, kids, etc., when you're a kid, you don't know and can't see that someday you'll view your problems as trivial.
I'm not a mom, and I never will be, but I hope that other parents out there try to remember just how hard childhood can be sometimes.