Saturday, October 4, 2008

Kids Gone Wild

I let my kids play with the little sugar packets, jelly cups, creamers, or any other random thing on a restaurant table, to occupy them.

I never used to do this. I used to actually cringe when I would see parents doing it. I'd spew out such pearls of wisdom as "I'm never going to let my kids behave like that in public" and "if that were my child (insert any ridiculous, smug, non parent, comment here)". As a former waitress, I'd picked up more than my fair share of crackers, french fries, and assorted other goodies from underneath tables. I tried to be sympathetic because it's my nature, but inside I always said "not my kid..."

Fast forward to the modern era. The era I like to call PC (post children), though it is anything but. I bring the huge bag with the crayons, and the sticky placemats, and the cheerios, and everything but the kitchen sink, into the eating establishment, to keep them from causing the kind of chaos that can only be had when you go out to eat. But they don't want any of that stuff. That is stuff they can play with any old time. No, they want to play with the forbidden stuff. The tabletop treasures that they can only get at a restaurant.

So, there you are. You are sitting with your children, they are exhibiting what can only be described as model behavior, having flung only half of their food onto the floor. You notice a few stares, perhaps a comment muttered under the breath by an obviously childless person. . If my children are not being loud, annoying, getting up from their seats to run amok, why does it irritate people if I let them spread a few sugar packets out on the table, or build a jelly tower. It's not as if I am not going to clean it all up.

Sometimes I just wish people would mind their own business.So what is your take on taking kids to restaurants? We have a few family friendly in our area which I would happily take the kids to. My husband on the other hand, he would rather forgo dining out altogether until perhaps their high school graduation dinners.

Let's be clear here. I am not talking about taking them to The Four Seasons. I am not talking about letting them run laps around the tables while others are dining. There is simply no excuse for that. Unless of course mommy has one too many margarita's and can no longer be held accountable for the actions of her kids.

But, in a place like Denny's or Joe's Crab Shack, there has to be some expectation that it might be a little noisy, and that yes, there may be kids smooshing crackers on the table. If you don't like it, go somewhere else, somewhere that doesn't cater to families, or better yet stay home.


Karen said...

Here, Here!!! I agree a hundred percent! (though my kids are only just entering the LOUD stage while dining out...I still have SO much to look forward to!)

chantal said...

I have actually been to restaurants and seen parents let their kids run around,yell,fight,scream... I am guilty of giving those paretns the "look". But building a jelly tower is certainly ok. There is a huge difference between letting the kids go wild and simply entertaining them. So your all good. Happy dining!

Maren said...

I served at Tony Roma's for a year during college. Kids never bothered me in the least. (Well, once there was smashed food ALL over the floor. That time I was a little irked.) Otherwise, playing with the stuff on the table --go for it. Isn't that what it's for? Getting a little loud? Family restaurants are loud. Who even notices?
I still play with the Sweet N Low packets in restaurants if they are out.

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