by Circe Olson Woessner
Recently my husband and I went out to dinner, something we infrequently do. The restaurant was new to us—and it was packed.
The waiter led us to a booth near a table where a family with three small children was sitting. I quickly looked around the room for any other empty table—but didn’t see one. Resigned, we sat down.
I was pleasantly surprised. The two oldest kids were busily coloring on coloring mats and the youngest was occupied by something he was nibbling. So far, so good!
Servers bustled around, bringing meals at a fast clip. Soon the family with the three kids left, and another group filled their seats. Our meal was delivered in short order, and while I wouldn’t say we felt rushed, I can’t say we were encouraged to linger.
I grew up in Europe, and my parents wrote travel books, so, dining out, as a child, was very different from my recent experience.
While my parents didn’t subscribe to the “children should be seen and not heard” philosophy, they did expect me to be quiet, well mannered, and patient during the sometimes hours-long meals.
When I was little, I would bring a pencil or pen to dinner, and, after I’d finished eating, I’d draw on the stiff paper tablecloths many restaurants in the 60s and 70s used. Because I loved drawing and had a large surface to work on, I got really detailed with my creations. I often gifted my “artwork” to the waiter or chef, who always accepted my offering with amused politeness.
Years later, my parents, husband and I went back to one of my favorite childhood restaurants, and the chef’s wife told me that she still had one of my tablecloth drawings!
When I was five, my family traveled to Rimini, Italy. We stayed at a grand hotel where elegant dinners were served in the ballroom. There was a live orchestra—and no paper tablecloths.
After I’d finished eating, and my parents were still working their way through a multi-course meal, the empty dance floor beckoned. I asked if I could go watch the orchestra—“yes, but don’t disturb the other diners.”
I edged over to watch the musicians. My toes started tapping and the budding ballerina in me started pirouetting and leaping. Soon, I was on the dance floor, doing all my ballet moves as best as I could. I was so into the music, I didn’t look to see the reactions on my parents’ faces.
When the music stopped, the diners applauded. I assumed they were applauding for me, so I curtsied.
I looked over at my parents, and my dad gave me a slight nod, so I continued dancing (quietly, so not to disturb the diners) until my parents finished their meal.
I don’t know how the other diners felt that night over 50 years ago at the Grand Hotel in Rimini; I hope I didn’t disturb them. At the time, I wanted to perform for them and bring them joy.
Last week, as I sat in the restaurant, those children coloring brought ME joy—they sparked a memory of me at their age, drawing pictures and dancing…
I applaud parents who include their children in family outings, and who set boundaries by providing both structure and creative outlets so that they, the kids—and their fellow diners— can enjoy a much-needed relaxing evening out.
As they say in Rimini, “Grazie.”
Diane Page Harper, the 2020-2222 MAMF Artist-in-Residence has spent more than a decade putting together her own personal puzzle through drawing, painting, and collage. . Her innate curiosity and playfulness shine through in each composition, and by inviting dialogue to develop organically on blank surfaces and by channeling her understanding of color theory and intuition, Diane draws forth underlying narratives from her subconscious. These stories often reach back to her youth as the child of a military family, and the travels, travails and triumphs that accompany that lifestyle. Her father was a forensic photographer with the US Army Crime Lab who taught himself photography by using his family as his subjects. He left behind a treasure trove of photographs providing inspiration for Diane’s work
Trained as a social worker, she returned to school and earned her studio art degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She believes in helping others connect with their most creative selves, and teaches through various venues, including her own studio, as a faculty member at the Museum School of the Arkansas Arts Center, and previously as an adjunct instructor at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.
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As 2019, comes to a close, we want to thank all our loyal BRAT ID Seal supporters over the past 5 years. As BRAT ID comes to the close of 2019, we have provided lowest prices on our remaining merchandise at closeout clearance prices here: https://ebay.com/usr/brat_id
We are shuttering our doors as of Dec 31, 2019 and donating the bulk of our remaining inventory of Military Brat ID Patches to “Museum of the American Military Family”. We are including merchandise created the last 5 years for the Museum to display the evolution and creation of the Military Brat Seal as it evolved to reflect all the Brats stories, memories, recollections told and recognize the struggles they endured as they served as first line of support to those Military sponsor serve. The BRAT ID Seal merchandise is created as one of a kind, limited edition pieces. Once sold out they are no longer available unless found on the secondary market. We hope that our legacy will continue to grow as appreciation for the sacrifices of Military families are honored.
We have been a proud supporter of and continue to support and endorse the work done by the Museum preserving our Military Brat and Military Family history. No where in the United States can you read and learn about the struggles and victories that Military Families have faced. No where in America can you read the reality of day to day sacrifices by those who serve and those who provide first line of support to those Veterans who served, than their families, who serve also. We want to ask you to read and recognize, and share the link for “Museum of the American Military Family”. By sharing our history as recorded we are honoring our unique heritage as Military Brats individually, one by one.
As BRAT ID closes in 2019, we will be working towards reorganizing to provide the Military Brat Seal products for the future, proudly Made in USA for American Brats. We have been fully supported by BRATS on facebook, yet there are so many others yet to reach, so we need to reorganize to be able to reach out beyond facebook. We can proudly claim the BRAT ID SEAL coins, pins and patches have been proudly embraced and gifted and adorn BRATS hats, vests, totes, lapels, framed as Graduation and Milestone gifts such as Sponsors retirement gifts to their BRATS. The coins and pins have proudly been used on Military Brats memorials sharing the unique sibling and BRAT unique heritage and lifelong friendships as a shared legacy.
As we close December 31, 2019 to reorganize, we hope that our donation of our BRAT ID remaining inventory will support the fund raising efforts and needs of Museum of the American Military Families goals and efforts and provide recognition rewards for the Military BRAT programs they support.
As of Jan 1, 2020, We will retain a small portion of BRAT ID merchandise available for sale upon request to support closure and reorganization costs. https://ebay.com/usr/brat_id
The remaining available BRAT ID SEAL merchandise will be available through the “Museum of the American Military Family” directly to support their needs.
THANK YOU, GODSPEED & BRAT ON!