I am the mother of two amazing adult children but not so long ago they were not so amazing, tiny little, squirming toddlers that it was an adventure to take anywhere. Now they were not terrible kids, they were just normal children that after a little while, they got bored and started to squirm and want to move. Now twenty years ago it seems to me that parents had a little more sway over their children and had more respect for others than they seem to have now. When my kids were little and we wanted to go out to eat, we usually chose a known, family friendly restaurant to dine in. We had a system that we used and it always seemed to work just perfectly.
We chose a restaurant before we left the house. We chose one that we pretty much knew the menu so that we could order right away when we were seated. If the meals came quickly then enough time did not elapse for the kids to get antsy. We made sure we brought along our “outing bag” which consisted of small coloring books and crayons and assorted small toys that were easily played with at the table without disturbing other diners. No video games or loud toys were allowed. We also told the waitress/waiter NOT to bring the children’s food before ours as some restaurants do. I have never understood this practice because if the kids are done eating before the adults even get their meals what’s going to happen? The kids get restless and the problems begin.
Now I have to brag a little and say that my kids were pretty darn good when we went out anywhere. I think that’s because my kids had a nice, healthy dose of fear of me and I liked it that way. I cannot remember a time ever that one of my kids “took a fit” anywhere we went. They might have gotten restless or a bit whiney but never a tantrum. They knew what would happen if they did from a very young age. I had control of my children, not like how it is today. When our meals came we ate dinner and talked a bit but the kids knew they had to use their indoor voices. There was no loud talking, screaming, getting up from their chairs, no turning around and bothering other diners or running around the restaurant. When we finished our meals, we had the leftovers boxed up, quickly paid our check and left. There was no lingering and no time for them to get too restless and potentially cause a problem. This was our system and it worked perfectly.
Flash forward to today and it is a whole different world. My husband and I went out to eat at one of our favorite bar/grill type restaurants not too long ago. We like this particular place because they not only have great food and wait staff, we are able to play our favorite game, Keno, as well. We like to leisurely order our choices and maybe have a drink while the food is being prepared and play a few rounds of Keno. We sit and talk and catch up on what has being happening during the week and just take time to reconnect. This particular visit was after a trip to the casino and it was later in the evening, about 9 pm. A few minutes after we were seated, a family of 8 walked in and even though the restaurant was half empty, they were seated right behind us. The family included 6 adults, a toddler of about 2 and a baby in a carrier of unknown age but figured about 4 or 5 months old.
The first few minutes were fine, even though this particular family had a fondness for talking quite loudly in a very quiet dining room. My first thought to myself was why bring a toddler and a baby out to dinner this late in the evening? Shouldn’t they be in bed? I used to take my kids to places such as this one but we never went after six or seven o’clock. We had 2 reasons for this. One was a bar/grill is usually frequented by people who don’t bring their kids so out of respect for that we never went late with the kids. People usually go to these places to relax and unwind and I know they nor I would want to hear screaming kids while I was trying to have a good time.The 2nd reason was that late at night my kids were in bed. They had a bedtime and we stuck to it. In my opinion, routine is one of the best things for a child. My kids didn’t need to be up and in a bar at 9 pm.
By the time our dinner arrived the table behind us sounded like a party of 50 as each person seemed to be shouting to be heard over the others at a table where the person across from you was about 2 feet away. It also seemed that the noisier the adults got, the louder and more out of control the child got. By the time we were halfway through our meals, the toddler was now running around the dining room and the adults seemed to have forgotten he was even there. He ran by one empty table and knocked the silverware onto the floor, he ran by another occupied table and hit the table so hard the gentleman’s glass of water spilled everywhere, including on his lap. He walked up to another diner and kicked him in the leg while the adults talked to each other louder than you would in a nightclub. My husband and I were appalled at how they not only allowed the behavior of this child but how they didn’t even acknowledge that he was even there. A server with a tray of hot food walked into the dining room and the child ran right into her. Luckily she was a pro and just stumbled a bit but it could have been disastrous.
Again the adults said or did nothing and the waitress, after serving the food to another table, walked over to them and very quietly and politely asked them to not let their child run around the dining room for his safety. You know if that hot food had landed on the child, the parents would have miraculously realized he was there and a scene would have ensued. Instead, the adults get mad at the waitress and begin to tell her how they raise their child is none of her business and they are spending their money in their restaurant, blah blah blah. The famous mantra of an irresponsible parent.
After the waitress walked away disgusted, the behavior continued. Here we are trying to have a nice meal out together as well as the other diners around us and these people are just oblivious to anyone around them. By this time the little one in the carrier has started to cry, wait, cry is not a strong enough word, the child was screaming at the top of their lungs and the adults just sat there. After about 10 minutes of this wailing the father finally gets up and starts walking with the child. Walking all around the dining room where the rest of us were trying to eat. I have to say that my hubby showed tremendous restraint because he is usually the first one to say something in situations like these. One of the men dining next to us who seemed to be having some sort of business get-together, finally said to the parents” could you please take your baby somewhere other than the dining room, the rest of us are trying to eat a meal.” Well that just set off a chain reaction from every adult at the offending table and curse words that would have made a sailor blush started streaming from the table.
A manager was finally called to the dining room, like he couldn’t hear this from anywhere in the large bar, and told the table that if they didn’t be quiet and get their children under control he would have to ask them to leave. Yet another string of obscenities were thrown out by the wonderful people at this table and words like I’m going to sue or you can’t threaten us like that could be heard around the ENTIRE bar. By this time is was near 10:30. I still kept thinking why are these children out so late? I flashed back to when my children were little and could not imagine any adult letting these things happen let alone being the perpetrators themselves. If my child had even thought about getting up and running around the room our trip would be over and I would gather up our food and head home. The same thing if my baby had started crying like this, we would have left. I would never let my children disturb other diners who paid good money to relax and have a nice meal. But it just isn’t this way anymore. The night ended with the manager making the family leave with a ridiculous scene following. More and more public places are posting signs warning they do not tolerate this behavior and I for one am glad of it! Some restaurants are even giving discounts on your bill for well behaved children.
Unfortunately this is the norm more and more often these days. People have less respect for each other and even less respect for their children. Children need routine, rules and discipline to grow into healthy, productive adults. What has changed so drastically that this behavior is now accepted and tolerated? I want to know how you feel about situations like this. Leave a comment and tell me how you feel or about a story when you were out in public with your kids or when you witnessed someone else’s rude behavior. Unfortunately I think we all have many of these stories to tell.