Maybe you were a part of the group with the crying-out toddler, or perhaps you were that crying-out toddler. No matter which part of the restaurant you're dining at, is it just "so-darn cute" or just "annoying AF" when you see that child running a marathon all over the restaurant?
I'm a server myself, and yesterday morning exactly that happened. Child screamed, and the parent got some not-so-nice looks from others. Unfortunately, the parent decided to cause a scary scene and cuss at the top of their lungs, "are you f'ing looking at my kid?! He's just trying to have some f'ing fun!" … except he didn't say "f'ing", and I was definitely scared my little 5'0 self was going to have to intervene.
So, is a "just having some fun" child adorable or an absolutely not? Is it okay for a child to run wild and scream to the moon in a restaurant?
Let me start by saying: nah… hell nah.
But, who's fault is it? Is it the child's? Is it the parent's? Or is it everyone around them in the restaurant? I can already hear a tired mom's thought: people eating-out should realize that children might be there, so they'll just have to deal with it.
According to Thrillist's The 19 Unwritten Restaurant Rules You're Probably Breaking, if your kids are distracting other tables, you're a problem. If a parent does not swoop up precious little Sally in the first 30 seconds of her tantrum, Sally is now everyone else's problem. If Sally is too young or has not mastered the "dining-out" skill yet, then maybe it's best you find a baby-sitter next time you plan your next restaurant experience.
Not only is it distracting for others in the restaurant, but it's extremely dangerous for the child and servers. I wish I had enough fingers to count the times I've been walking with hot plates in my hands, when out from a corner comes a sprinting pudgy faced five-year-old. Luckily being 5'0 and close to the ground, I typically have enough time to spot the child and brake before possibly running into the child and spilling hot food.
However, every time I find myself stopped-short in front of a running child, I notice their parent either acknowledging how "cute" their baby looks from across the dining room, or a parent completely oblivious to the location of their dashing little darling. Did I mention I'm still handling the hot plates?
But, wait! I know what you're thinking: kids will be kids, right? …how charming and innocent of you.
I have been serving for a little over a year and can promise you that while I've seen the upsetting and disrupting children, I've also seen the most respectful and well-behaved children.
But, how? I'll be the first to admit- I'm not a mother but after a simple google search, I've found the best way to handle your little one is to prep them for the restaurant experience. Make it clear to them before you leave the house where they are going, how they should act, and the consequences or reward they will earn if they follow what is expected.
If you seem to think you and your child cannot learn to live with proper dining etiquette (and I really don't care how "fancy" the restaurant is), do everyone a favor and stay home. Before you know it, Sally will be older, actually enjoy, and be more than adequate to join your Sunday Mommy's Brunch… and I promise you- you'll enjoy it, too.