A little while ago, my family was out for supper at a place we frequent. It’s a family friendly location close to home so my kids are welcomed there. We obviously choose family friendly locations because we bring 8, almost-5 and 3 year olds with us. While we have high expectations on behavior, we also don’t push beyond the limits where they can succeed. (I’m not going to bring them where they need to wait an hour and whisper, and have foods they won’t eat).
The girls are expected to order for themselves, sit down, look at the server when speaking/being spoken to, keep to an orderly voice (no shouting/screaming/yelling), use please/thank you, etc. Should they need to use the restroom, they are required to walk, watch out for people carrying food/drinks, etc. We feel like this is part and parcel of being a good person.
We were at this particular location a few weeks ago and the dreaded “travel” team was there. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant where a kids’ sports team comes in and wants to all sit together, and is entitled to do whatever, you know what I’m taking about.
There were kids at this table of 18 that were running through the restaurant, shouting, roughhousing, etc. Their parents were paying no attention to those kids (ages between 8-12, I’d guess and about 8 of them give/take). There were a few times where the servers nearly dropped plates of food or 32 oz beers because these kids were darting without watching right into their paths.
All of a sudden one mom yells at the kids who are no where near a chair to stop. All the restaurant turns and looks thinking “finally, these kids will sit”. Oh, no, wait. They just want the kids to pay attention so they can take a group selfie.
Bits was sitting in her chair watching these kids with astonishment. At one point, one kid nearly hit Bits. My girl’s hair literally moved from the wind of the kid’s arms through the air, it was that close.
That was my last straw. I finally turned and said “You need to pay attention. You touch my daughter, and we’re going to have a real problem”. The girl looked at me and walked away. I could see her conferring with her mother, but as I was glaring, I’m pretty sure the mom decided silence was probably best.
I was talking with the owner later and found out one of the moms complained because her kid didn’t order a meal. He was flitting around, and not sitting during ordering so he didn’t order food. And, all the parents obviously wanted the bill split but didn’t like that their kids had to know a number to get food. If you switch up the parents and put the kids on the other end of the table not near a parent/sibling, exactly how would you like a server to keep those bills straight?
I really wish parents who wanted to do large group things with their kids would just do it in their house and order takeout. Although based on the amount of crap that was at risk, and the mess was made, I’m sure no parent wanted these kids in their place. Or – pay attention and make sure the kids are sitting down, not bothering other patrons with stupid roughhousing and shouting. But then how could you talk to your cronies without interruption?
We might be at this particular establishment a lot (see where I was speaking with owner later ~ we were just shooting the breeze, I hadn’t called her over to complain). Most of the servers who know my family and know my girls stopped by to say thanks. Thanks for teaching our girls behaviors appropriate to eating out, thanks for teaching my kids to look them in the eye and treat them with respect. Thanks for not running throughout as though they were in an indoor playground.
This is probably the one time that I judge parents. If your kid acts out, and you deal with it, I don’t judge that. I have no idea if your kid is autistic or had a bad day or what. So nope, not judging how your kid acted out if you are attempting to deal. In fact, I might shoot a compassionate glance over to say “I get it. You keep doing your best, You’re awesome”. But you let your kids run rampant, I am not giving compassion, I’m shooting daggers. And God help you if my child is hit because your child didn’t couldn’t sit down.