It’s early Saturday night and one of my customers is throwing a fit. The problem probably started when he threw food at the woman sitting next to him.
The situation’s out of control. Plates and utensils litter the floor. The lady’s covered with food. She yells impotently at her attacker. Everyone watches helplessly as the customer throws himself to ground, curls up into a little ball, and unleashes a soul shredding scream.
The only reason I haven’t called 911? The customer is three years old.
I feel a tap on my shoulder. Standing next to me is a bald guy wearing wire rimmed glasses. He looks pissed.
“Can you move my table?” he demands. “That kid’s out of control. I’m not enjoying my meal.”
It’s Saturday night and the seating plan’s tight. I can’t be moving people around. That’s a recipe for disaster. I’m about to tell the guy “no” when the little tyke emits a toxic screech that shaves a month off the lives of everyone in the room.
“I’ll move you right away sir.”
The bus girls move the man’s table to the other side of the restaurant. I go over to Louis. The child’s screaming in his section. To make matters worse – the boy’s little brother is starting to cook off.
“Oh my God,” I groan, “Now they’re in stereo.”
“Can you believe these parents?” Louis asks.
“This has been going on almost fifteen minutes.”
“My name’s not Ronald,” Louis huffs. “There ain’t no Happy Meals here.”
I look over at the table. The three years old’s smacking the floor with his fist. His mother’s cradling his brother in her arms, trying to shush him. The father’s angrily munching on a rack of lamb. I notice there’s an expensive bottle of wine on the table. No effort’s being made to control the kid experiencing demonic possession.
“Poor guys,” I say. “They were having a nice dinner until their children exploded.”
“What did they expect?” Louis says, “Kids hate restaurants.”
“I’m gonna start dressing you up like a clown,” I say, half seriously. “Seat all the toddlers in your section.”
“I’d be a scary clown,” Louis growls, “The scary demented dangerous clown.”
“Ok. Bad idea.”
The hostess comes up to me. “We have a problem,” she says.
“Let me guess,” I say, “No one wants to sit in Louis’s section while that kid’s here.”
As if on cue, both kids kick the volume up a notch.
“If I pulled this crap when I was a kid,” I say, “My Dad would’ve made me sit in the car with the windows rolled up.”
“But it’s hot outside!” the hostess says.
“Where these kids are from? They’d probably be used to it.”
“They’re the devil’s children!” I yelp, “Spawn from the fires of hell!”
The hostess stares at me in disbelief. She’s not used to my brand of humor.
“You’re a mean man,” the hostess says, walking away.
“Well, what are you going to do?” Louis asks.
“Did you ever see that commercial?” I say absently, “The one of the father dragging a screaming little brat through the supermarket?”
“At the end of the commercial they show a package of condoms and say, ’That’s why.’”
Louis starts cracking up, “We should film these kids.”
“We could sell the footage and make a mint,” I reply.
Don’t get me wrong everybody – I love children. I know children cry. That’s what they’re designed to do. I’m actually good with kids – in a “hand them back to their parents when they act up” sort of way. Ask all my friends.
And I don’t subscribe to the prissy “leave your kids at home” school of restaurateurship. Children are part of life and should be included in the celebrations of life. There are people who, for what ever reason, don’t like to share the same air as children. They think most public spaces should be a kid free zone. That’s nuts. We were all children once. Someone had to put up with us while we crapped in our pants. So, even if you don’t have kids, you should have some tolerance for those of other people.
I’m not talking about the kiddie policies of Uber restaurants like Per Se. If I’m shelling out $500 a person I don’t want kids in dirty diapers sitting next to me either! There are obviously places where children should not be taken.
Let’s be real. Parents have to follow some simple rules when taking children to an eatery nicer than McDonald’s. Kid haters need to loosen up a little. Half the problems with children in restaurants would be avoided if the child bound and childless put themselves in each other’s shoes. Compassion and consideration both go a long way.
But if your child turns into Satan’s howling minion you have to take them outside! There’s no excuse for letting children froth at the mouth twenty minutes. It doesn’t make the child look bad – it makes the parent look bad. Drag them outside and perform whatever exorcism your religion or pediatrician say works best. We’ll keep your food warm.
“Oh God,” Louis says, breaking my reverie, “Look what he’s doing now.”
I look over. The oldest child is kicking his mother in the shins.
“I’ll bet that kid’s got three sixes burnt into the back of his head.”
Finally the father’s had enough. He signals for the check. Mom starts strapping her offspring into the double wide stroller that’s been blocking the men’s room. Louis gives the man the bill, runs it, and brings it back to the table.
Mother and father wheel the children outside. A palpable sense of relief washes over the restaurant. I overhear a female customer say, “My kids were never like that.”
I smile to myself. Her kids probably drove her nuts. Time can be a powerful amnesiac.
“So what was the tip?” I ask Louis.
I watch the busgirls as they sweep drool sodden cheerios off the floor. The table looks like Shea Stadium after a doubleheader.
“At least they didn’t leave behind a dirty diaper,” I say.
I head back towards the front. The parents are still outside. They’re having a low grade argument – probably about how they handled their little darlings.
As I watch through the window I notice the mother has a tired pretty face. The father’s brow seems lined with anxiety. For the first time I realize these parents are at least ten years younger than me. I chide myself and remember I’m just responsible for taking care of a joint custody dog. Parenthood is tough.
I look at the stroller. The little boys are sitting side by side – fast asleep. The youngest child rests his head on big brother’s shoulder. They look so peaceful. Without the red faces, tears, and snot they’re actually cute little boys.
The parents look at their charges, shake their heads, smile at each other, and walk away. They’re probably thinking the same thing I’m thinking.
Now they decide to look like angels.
Hee hee. I have three boys, ages 9, 4, and 2. I don’t think I’ve been able to eat at a first class sit down restaurant more than a handful of times since my first was born as I it stresses me out thinking about trying to keep them entertained and not ruining other diners’ dining experience. My middle child is good as gold, but when my oldest was a toddler…oh my goodness. And my youngest…he hates restaurants, and shows it. So it’s the drive through for us for a few years, haha.
Pro 19:18 Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.
Pro 29:17 Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.
Anon: With something as complex and multi-faceted as the bible you need to study it carefully for years in order to have any hope of seeing all the layers of meaning, much less truly understand them. Throwing out a couple of sentences without even your own personal commentary is pretty meaningless, or worse yet misleading as hell (literally – I’ve heard it said the Devil is better at quoting Scripture than anyone).
I HATE KIDS
Lmao I remember that commercial. I think they still play it today.
I’m all for spanking. Lawd help me and my siblings if my mom came at us angry. That’s what parents need to do today.
And if you don’t believe in spanking, I work with a guy who never lays a hand on his daughter. He started strict with her when she was young, let her know what was what, and she’s a perfect little angel. For those few times she does act up (I mean she is 3 after all) all he does is say her name and she immediately stops.
Parents are pansies today. We’re setting our next generation up to fail and I dare anyone to argue. 🙂
The commercial you reference is @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NvJs3KNdkw&eurl=http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=condom+commercial+supermarket+child&emb=0&aq=f&feature=player_embedded
I will never have kids. I cannot stand them, or their screeching. I have no patience for bad parents, either. If you can’t make your kids shut up in a reasonable amount of time, you shouldn’t be takingt them everywhere, and you sure as hell shouldn’t ignore their shrieking cries! Like Waiter said, take them outside, if you can’t be a good parent.
^ I, too, was a perfect parent before I had children. (And trust me, if you ever do have kids, you’ll understand why people put up with the bad parts).
Obviously, Waiter’s situation is a drastic one, but in many cases, kids get rambunctious after a while. It’s in their nature, and the parents should have done something about it.
i have two boys who get bored when we eat out..we dont eat out very often. problem solved. if we do eat out we go somewhere kid friendly. they are kids after all and i as their parent know my kids limits. it bugs me to no end to see parents like these ..please discipline your child. i have no qualms of spanking my kids if he needs it. time-outs usually work most of the time but when they dont they get a spanking.
I work at a restaurant/bar that has roughly ten arcade games lined up against one wall, and we get all kinds kids running around like we’re freaking Chuckie Cheese’s. I’ve actually fallen on a 2 year old who was wandering around the restaurant unsupervised. I’ve tripped over and bumped into numerous amounts of kids. I know kids misbehave, but, good God, my siblings and I wouldn’t have been able to sit down for a week if we so much as talked loudly at a restaurant, much less run around like a pack of heathens. Where did discipline go?
Half of parents shouldn’t be parents. It’s a huge responsibility and discipline is a MUST. Yes, the parents should have taken them outside for a time out immediately. Everyone who thinks your life is not complete until you have kids?!….HA HA HA, that’s the biggest bunch of bull crap i’ve ever heard. Kids are time consuming, expensive. You can’t do anything, go anywhere. I really don’t see any point of having kids. Some will say to pass on the family name of to have care takers when your old. Who cares about a family name, one of your relatives will pass on your name and there is assisted living or resthomes where you can flirt with all the other old men and women for company! LOL. Others will say that you need to have someone who will inherit your valuables. Put them in a will for other people and spend all you can before you croak.
I’m currently pregnant; and I’ve aleady accepted the fact that without a sitter it’s restaurants below Applebees quality for the next 12 years
I work in a kid friendly sports bar and could write a book on bad parenting. I’ve actually seen kids get left because the parents have been pounding beers for 5 hours. I think that kids menus should automatically have Nyquil added to the recipes. Love this site.
I have two kids of my own, and my GOD did I get lucky with them.
My husband and I took my girls out to eat for my youngest’s birthday tonight, it was just to Cee Cee’s, but they are so well behaved i stared in awe at the two children seated behind my husband. The one child had to of been at least 6, and she kept sliding under the table, standing up, running off, and the mother, just kept doing the pleading “Stop, sit down, eat, please honey, sit down right, honey stop going under the table…” UGH!
I just looked at my husband and said “how can you just let your kids act like that, a little bit of discipline goes a LONG way.” and this is coming from the mother of a 4 year old (Almost 5) and a now 2 year old. My girls, even in Chili’s or apple bees (Both times for my birthday) sit there, eat, and never raise their voices above normal speaking volume. They know better, because I’ve TAUGHT them better. parents who do not discipline their kids baffle me.
I’ve had many a nice meal turn into a To-Go because of a hissy fit thrown by either my first, second, or youngest son. What is so difficult about taking a screaming child to a car? Thank God mine seem to get past the stage by around 3.
@Kat I hope your child was born happy and healthy. One question: There are restaurants BELOW applebees quality?
Haha, I had a very similar experience this last Christmas Eve at the fancy-pants Steakhouse at which I am employed. The “little darling” was emitting a high pitched wail that rivals some dog whistles. The parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles were laughing and thinking how cute the babe was in his moment of irritation. I understand kids tend to be noisy sometimes, and I assume most people expect a little of the same. It just comes with the territory. However, after 15 minutes of it, SOMETHING SHOULD BE DONE, like GO OUTSIDE OR GO HOME so sweet thing can get some zzz’s. My other guests sitting close kept giving me death stares like it’s my fault that kiddo is pissed off…. *Sigh*
All I ask of my diners with tiny ones is that if the tyke has been flipping out for more than 5 minutes with no signs of stopping, please remove them to the bathroom, car, or domicile as it effects my income. Thank you, that is all.
It really depends on the manners of the parents, I almost fainted from anxiety, because these parents brought this little boy about 2 and he proceeded to play the drums like Tommy Lee on his highchair with a fork, and this went on and on, they didn’t care that it drove people nuts! Another time, I went to a Mexican restaurant, and the only booth available was across from parents and 4 kids! I was like,”Oh, Hell, no!” But we were stuck, and let me tell you, those kids had manners, they spoke low, and acted better than a lot adults, it just depends on how you are raised!
Where I work, any time a kid starts getting loud, I run with crackers. Or their kid side that doesn’t have to be cooked. Having a kid in a couple months. You better believe he’ll be learning proper restaurant etiquette!