I know there are a lot of lucky people out there in the world who have been the fortunate recipients of a little cherubic bundle or three from the stork. Whether the little munchkin in question was a planned guest or an unexpected drop-in after a boozy night at your favorite Mexican restaurant, people are procreating all over the place. I love kids. Really, I do. …Usually from afar. (Oh, who am I kidding, I’ll probably be the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe someday.) But the one time I universally hate, abhor, and loathe your little rugrats and you, as parents, is when you drag your entire brood to a decent, casual dining restaurant.
I define “casual dining restaurant” as a moderately-priced establishment with cloth napkins and a table-wait time that averages 60-90 minutes. It’s not fancy enough to have French words, especially the word “chez,” in the title, but it’s also not Maw and Paw’s Eatin’ Shack. It’s a place that could be an acceptable second or third date venue. On the outside of all of such restaurants, amidst the “No Solicitors” sign or the kitchen hours, there should be a sign that reads, “No Children Under the Age of 12.”
Yes, that’s right, parents. Your spawn doesn’t stop being an asshole or start being restaurant appropriate until twelve years have passed. I cannot comprehend why any parent would subject themselves, their child, or the droves of innocent, hungry civilians to eating in the midst of your beloved treasure. I know, I know. Your child has manners. Your child is well-behaved. Your child would never cause a scene. Well, that’s all entirely true—UNTIL IT’S NOT. Sorry I’m not sorry, parents; it’s not just your offspring I’m worried about. It’s the way most parents act with their young kids at a decent restaurant.
The parents literally come in with a caravan: they’ve always got the Hummer of strollers (that will invariably roll over and break all of your toes or bump you in the ass), a carrier, four bags of paraphernalia, and fourteen blankets (it doesn’t matter if it’s cold or not—there will be blankets). They come in and request a table and are told the wait is about two hours. Little Timmy is innocently munching on his boogers while his Brutus-idolater parents thoughtlessly resign him to the fate of waiting in a crowded, loud vestibule for approximately four years in kid time.
During this horrible timeframe, Little Timmy will grow increasingly fussy. He’ll do that thing where he walks up to strangers and touches their leg with his tiny, sticky hands. He’ll start playing in and around any indoor potted plant he can find. He’ll bump into strangers in the middle of playing some game with dear old mom or dad—only they aren’t paying any attention to Little Timmy whatsoever since this is their first night out on the town since his conception. In short, Little Timmy will be an epic pain in the ass. We childless soon-to-be diners will forgive him though—he’s hungry just like the rest of us, the poor dear!
Being Seated & Dinosaur-Shaped Chicken Nuggets
We childless diners will finally get seated and find ourselves with a blessed mouthful of chicken quesadillas, when all of a sudden, here comes the family from the lobby with that semi-assholic child, and they’re being seated among us. No matter how big the tot is, the host or hostess will ask if they need a special seat, and the first argument of the evening will ensue. Little Timmy will insist he’s a big boy and doesn’t need the seat! The mother, desperate to keep her son a little boy until he’s 30 years old, unmarried, and creepy, will insist he get the special seat because he’s simply too short. Little Timmy’s dad doesn’t get involved—he’s already opened the menu and is deciding if the wants a strip steak or the rib eye. Eventually, Little Timmy admits defeat and sits pouting in his “baby seat.”
The quesadillas will disappear all too quickly, and by now, you’re probably hungry enough that you don’t even want to talk to your dinner companion(s). You want to look around the restaurant, and wait for your food which, even though it’s only been ten minutes, is taking forever to get to the table. Little Timmy and his family will be deciding on what to order, but of course, Little Timmy and his nourishment needs are the most important consideration in the entire universe. The parents will have already secured the kids’ menu, and Little Timmy will be engaging his motor skills with some inane activity that usually involves crayons and a way-too-easy maze. The mother always leads the decision-making process of a child’s dinner…
“Little Timmy, what do you want for dinner? They have grilled cheese! Your favorite!”
For the pain in the ass at your dinner table.
Image source: Tyson
“NO I WANT CHICKEN NUGGETS SHAPED LIKE DINOSAURS,” he’ll bellow, getting purple crayon all over the once spotless table.
The mother will put on a show of scanning the menu for, “Chicken à la Stegosaurus” and come up empty.
“Well, Little Timmy… It doesn’t look like they have chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs…”
“I WANT CHICKEN NUGGETS SHAPED LIKE DINOSAURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
By now, we childless diners are each contemplating getting our tubes tied or getting a vasectomy on the way home from dinner, and it’s at this moment Little Timmy’s waitress reappears, and Little Timmy’s parents do something unforgivable…
“Were you all ready to order?” she’ll ask, completely unaware of the unfortunate response that awaits her.
“We’re still looking… But um, I just wanted to ask. Is there any way the chef could make chicken nuggets in the shapes of dinosaurs?”
The waitress will look at the parents with a wry, understanding smile, and reply, “Why yes! Of course! The chef keeps dinosaur cookie-cutters on hand just in case some indulgent parents insist on ordering some chicken in the shape of extinct mammals for their spoiled child! Let me go to the kitchen and put that right in for you!”
Oh wait, NO. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. Parents, I know you want to give your child the best of everything, but if there are no dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets on the menu, there are no dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to be had! Let it go! Do NOT ask the waitress about any ridiculous special food requests that they have no hope of satisfying. That goes for allergies, too. No restaurant is about to delouse the entire kitchen of all peanuts, wheat, or poultry just for your little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
And you know, when parents make these ridiculous demands, and the waitress replies, in the kindest way possible, “Are you out of your mind? Where do you think you are?!” the parents still get pissed! “Did you see the way she said that? It’s not our fault we have a child…” Yes, as a matter of fact, it is your fault, and your spawn doesn’t belong in here if you’re going to act this way. I suspect Little Timmy would have been just as happy with his freezer chicken nugget dinosaurs that are free of all the ingredients that give him hives. Sadly, the out-of-hand demands are just the beginning of the ordering process gone awry…
Sometimes the parents will see an evening out to dinner with their spawn as an opportunity to let them pretend to be grown-ups for an hour. Unfortunately, this little life lesson always happens at the expense of the hardworking waiter or waitress. The parents will decide to let Little Timmy order for himself, and you know what? He’s not going to take it seriously. And why is that? Because he’s a child, and he has no concept that he’s not clever enough to be funny yet or that he’s being an insufferable pain in the ass.
“Were you guys ready to order?”
“Go ahead Little Timmy…” the mom will say, smiling all proud like a dog that kicks up some grass after it takes a shit.
Little Timmy will do that infectious, adorable, shy thing kids do where he hesitates and laughs, and if you’re a woman, your ovaries will do a cartwheel. He’ll finally work up the courage to place his dinner order and he’ll say, “BUTTCRACK!”
Now the once-proud mom will put on her oh-silly-Little-Timmy face and she’ll shrug helplessly at the patient waitress. In response, the waitress will laugh off this minor offense. Kids say the darndest things, don’t they?
“Now, now, Little Timmy, mind your manners. Tell the nice lady what you want to eat.”
“SHOES!” He’ll burst into a fit of laughter.
Your kid can learn to order his or her own food at age 20.
Image source: quickmeme
The pen that the waitress is holding just above her notepad will be lowered once again, and an inaudible, frustrated sigh will escape her lips. Little Timmy’s mother’s eyes will narrow, and she’ll put her hands on her hips, “Now Little Timmy. I mean it, tell the lady what you want, otherwise you’ll only get to pick two desserts and not four, and I may even frown at you.”
Little Timmy will nod quietly in understanding, chastened by his mother’s harsh words, “I want… A BASKETBALL!!!! FOOLED YOU! HAHAHAHA!”
By now, we childless diners are organizing a petition for the sainthood of Little Timmy’s waitress. This back and forth could easily go on for 30 minutes before Little Timmy’s mother steps in and orders her child’s damn food. It could always be worse though…
A Bit of Culture & The Tantrum
Sometimes the parents see the dining-out experience as a way to expose their kids to some new, sophisticated foods they haven’t eaten yet. In their deluded, parenting-addled mind, they think they’ll be exposing their child to fine cuisine at a young age, and they’ll be on the right track to raising a cultured little brat! …What they seem to forget is that no child gives half a shit about trying new things nor is any child willing to even be in the same room with spaghetti squash. The parents will take the initiative of ordering Little Timmy’s dinner behind his back while he matches pictures of animals to their names, and when the pile of brains on a plate arrives, we move on to the next chapter in the horror story that is children in a restaurant: the temper tantrum.
By now, we childless diners have thankfully abandoned our bread-basket gluttony and we’re knifing and forking away at our entrées. Little Timmy makes eye contact with the plate of something that is not the cheese pizza he had envisioned.
“I wanted pizza!” he’ll pout.
“Try it honey,” his mother says consolingly, “It’s yummy! You have to try it.”
“I…wanted…pizza…” his little lips will quiver ever so slightly.
We childless diners all have our alcoholic beverages in hand, now. We know it’s coming. We heard the slight hiccup in Little Timmy’s voice when he pronounced, “pizza.” We can practically hear the tears flooding his eyes like a toilet that won’t stop running. He’s fixin’ to throw a fit, and it’s not going to be pretty.
Where’s the nearest body of water?
Image source: kompany24
Pretty soon the tears are flowing down his pinch-able cheeks, and the poor waitress makes the mistake of coming back to the table to see if everything’s okay at the worst possible time. Little Timmy is flailing is arms and legs, throwing his cloth napkin on the ground, shoving silverware around the table, and knocking over his child cup. The neglected spaghetti squash is pathetically getting cold, its inappropriate owner refusing to settle for anything less than pizza.
We childless diners are now scowling. The time for polite ignoring has expired. The temper tantrum scenario always ends one of two ways 1.) The parents will get Little Timmy the pizza they should have gotten in the first place or 2.) The parents will reveal some serious inadequacies in their parenting skills that will either make us childless diners uncomfortable, nervous, or straight up pissed… before getting Little Timmy the pizza they should have gotten him in the first place.
A Note About Public Tantrums
I imagine it’s an embarrassing affair to be the parents of a misbehaving child at a restaurant. It must be said, though, that too harshly reprimanding your spawn in public will always make you look like a bully, an asshole, and a bad parent. Sorry, that’s what we’re all thinking as we look down our childless noses at your upset bundle of joy. The poor dear just wanted some pizza, after all! Yet, if you don’t put your foot down at all, we’ll all think that you’re a pushover and that your child takes advantage of you. He should eat whatever he’s given–don’t be a wuss!
…Basically, what I’m saying is, if your child acts out in the restaurant, no matter how you handle it, your public approval rating with us childless diners will plummet. You know how all of this could have been avoided? Go to Chuck E. Cheese next time. It’s a pretty sure bet that anywhere where there’s a ball pit nearby, there will be parents doing a worse job of weathering a temper tantrum than you.
Eventually, Little Timmy’s hard-fought cheese pizza will arrive, and he’ll turn back into a tolerable little turnip again. Eventually, the parents and Little Timmy will finish up, and before you know it, they’ve gathered their caravan and they’re on their way to the little boy’s room (because Little Timmy has to go, of course).
Peace at Last
We childless diners will relax in our booths—the quiet restored. We’re waiting for our dessert orders now while the bus boys clean off the table that once sat Little Timmy the Terrible. Our 40,000 calorie desserts will arrive, and just as we’re about to indulge in that decadent first bite… Here comes Little Jessica, her brother Baby Noah, and the parents with their two-seater stroller and diaper bags piled as high as the eye can see…
We childless diners will get a stomachache choking down our desserts in order to pay the check, forget about the change, and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.