Friday, December 12, 2008

Eating out with a Baby: Pet Peeves

Eating out in public with a baby is stressful (although from what I've seen eating out with a toddler is even more stressful).  I put a lot of effort into making sure that things go smoothly with Sadie before we set foot in a restaurant.  I make sure she's been fed and burped and changed and if she's about to fall asleep when we pull into the parking lot at a restaurant, we circle the block one more time (the Prius and the plummeting price of gas does help in that area).  If she's not about to fall asleep I take her out of her car seat and she sits on my lap and plays with the spoon or her toys.  When she's really fussy I take her outside, but that's only happened a handful of times and all of those times were in the first month and a half of her life.  All of these little efforts together make most of our meals pretty pleasant.  

Except when the problem isn't Sadie.  A lot of restaurants seem to have a policy of placing all of the little kids in the restaurants in the same section.  Logically I understand this.  In practice, however, it works less perfectly.  One recent experience unfolded in this way:

We walk into a family, kid-oriented restaurant and they place us in a side room.  In the room is another baby, who is sleeping in her car seat and a well behaved toddler.  At another table they place a family with a little boy who is about three-years old.  He's with his father, mother and grandparents and the LOOK like normal people.  

Things go downhill fast.  First the little boy starts yelling at the waiter.  His parents laugh.  Charming.  He then gets up and starts racing around the room yelling.  Sadie is now awake.  I fume silently and try to keep her happy.  She was at the beginning of her nap so she's a little bit cranky.  On the other side of the room, sitting against a wall, is an elderly couple.  The little boy runs up to the woman, who doesn't appear to know him and punches her in the arm.  She looks shocked.  The parents, are laughing and talking and don't appear to notice.  He then runs over to the blinds and starts hitting them.  His father finally gets up, laughing, and picks him up.  Sitting back down at the table the father begins to tell a story about giving the little boy sips of his beer.  

Most parents aren't this obnoxious (or terrible) so maybe this one shouldn't even be included under my general "uninterested parents in restaurants" complaint.  A more common story is an older baby who comes in when Sadie is asleep and starts to cry.  I can sympathize with crying when the parents actually act and try in some way to comfort the baby (tip: usually if you pick the baby up he or she will stop crying).  In these cases however, the parents ignore the baby, letting it cry and talking loudly, over the crying.  One woman even unfolded her paper, put it between herself and her screaming eighteen month old who was reaching for her and read for the duration of our suddenly shortened meal.  

These people are the reason that we're put in the back room in the first place!  Restaurants, even family restaurants, don't want a crying baby in the main part of the dining area and so they put everyone together, setting off a chain reaction.  Within ten minutes every baby in the place can be crying, making a very unpleasant baby dining section.  And that is incredibly frustrating (and I tend to be frustrated at both the parents and the restaurant itself).  

And that is my Parents Pet Peeve Rant for the Week.  


  1. oh my gosh! i totally identify with this story! this happens to us every time we try to go somewhere! except now, finley is the one screaming and trying to run all over the place. enjoy the little sleeping one while you still can!

  2. That's what I try to think of whenever there's a screaming toddler in the room (other than, please don't sit by us, please don't sit by us). Someday Sadie will likely be the screaming toddler and I'll be the harried looking parent. It's already coming. Since writing this blog Sadie has stopped sleeping through meals. She wants to be sitting up like a big girl and she spends the entire time trying to rip things off the table and throw them onto the ground. The peaceful days are coming to an end!


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