I will preface this post by saying I do not have kids, just a cat. I do have 2 nieces and 2 nephews that I am worshiped by, the oldest being 7 and the youngest being 1ish, so I’m not a stranger to kids and the joys and sorrows they cause families.
My boyfriend and I decided to go out to lunch this past weekend to a Dogfish Alehouse. We enjoy the selection of brews and the artery clogging food. It’s not a particularly cheap place to eat, but it’s not necessarily going to break the bank every once in a while either. Between the calorie-ridden food and the higher than preferred prices, we go as a treat.
Our treat was disrupted even before our first (and consequently, only) ale was delivered, a family of four sat down at an adjacent table. The approximate ages of the children appeared to be 5 and maybe 4. The antagonist of the story, the screaming boy, was no baby but still fell under that jurisdiction of “uncontrollable-terrible-somethings” age with the mother and father at the “parents-should-know-better” age.
For the first five minutes of shouting, I was already on edge. It takes me no time to get irritated by piercing screams begin losing patience. My boyfriend was like, “it’s not that bad.” My boyfriend is a way nicer person than I am and far more tolerant; he probably expected a quick end to the tears and banshee cries. Once the bill was paid, he was sprinting out of the restaurant ahead of me.
After ten minutes I couldn’t hear myself think and each time I started to try to talk to my lunch partner about the mysteries of cockroaches, I couldn’t finish the statement because the wailing coming from ten feet away was killing my brain cells as quickly as it was killing my appetite.
Still, I figured, the kid had to stop sometime soon. But when he didn’t, my anger wasn’t at the bratty, tantrum-ridden child, but at the parents. Obviously, what they were doing wasn’t working. There has to come a time when they realize the uncontrollable rage at life being showcased by their child isn’t going to work by letting him throw fries, sit on the floor, go from father to mother, excessive cooing, etc. There is a restaurant packed with people (hence being unable to move from our location, not that it would have mattered, the screams penetrated the sound barrier) and consequently, they should show consideration to other paying customers and take the kid outside (beautiful weather), to the bathroom, to the car, take the food to go, whatever!
I get it. Kids cry. They whine. They poop and puke. They are pests and parents love every iota of it! Yay! But, parents, realize that this is not your home, this is a public venue, one where everyone is paying money to treat themselves, take a break from their hectic day, indulging, whatever. Aside from the fact that kids are welcome in this establishment, it’s an alehouse which means that the target demographic isn’t really anyone under the age of 21. The food is expensive and kids will have a few bites of fries and chicken tenders. A family is better going to a kid-friendly, affordable restaurant like Friendly’s or a fast food place which even offers healthier options for kids nowadays and playgrounds! It’s not like this particular restaurant was the only available option. There were many!
I understand the parents want real food and real beer, so get a babysitter. Because parents also deserve to treat themselves to the pleasure of a meal and a drink without screaming children. Kids don’t give you an excuse to disturb the rest of the human population. Exercise good judgement and be considerate.
By now my boyfriend and I were miserable, as were the diners around us. We would have loved to hang out and sip another beer, but we couldn’t eat and get the check fast enough. I practically threw my credit card at the waitress. $45 plus tip for a meal that was probably tasty, a beer I think was blueberry flavored and probably also good, and a headache I know I didn’t order.
I felt bad for the waitresses who had to serve and handle the screams and growling customers. I don’t know if it’s for them to talk to the family or a manager to tell them to control their kid. It’s not their job to do so. However, they certainly lost a lot of money as people who intended to stay left and other diners, I’m sure, cut the tips in half. But the accountability of the situation is with the parents who were oblivious to those around them. If my boyfriend and I started crying and shouting, we’d be kicked out. Why? It’s disturbing and we know better. The kid may not know better, although this one seemed old enough to be aware, but the parents certainly do know well enough.
Families bitch about restaurants not letting children in, but I applaud restaurants that do this. For whatever reason, when someone becomes a parent there is this feeling of superiority and entitlement that accompanies them everywhere. Suddenly, conversation is only about their child(ren). In public spaces, families are disorganized and take up excessive space, they cause delays and are in the way, all while remaining completely oblivious to anyone in the vicinity. I get it, juggling your 1 – 6 kids is hard (no matter how much gear you have with you), but it’s your responsibility to handle it and to handle it in a way that agrees with the rest of the world. You are not any better than a childless family or someone who decides to remain without a kid temporarily or permanently. Your children shouldn’t define you nor your manners. And if 6 kids is too much? There are so many ways in these modern days to prevent that. I’m sure your god will understand, otherwise he’s an out-of-touch asshole and not worth you worship.
People might say to me, “Gingermermaid, you don’t understand because you don’t have kids.” I would respond with a big bird located in the middle of my hand and a response, “You don’t remember what it was like before your children defined your entire existence.”
During that meal I looked at my boyfriend and said, “If ever you and I find ourselves in the unfortunate situation where we happen to have offspring, promise me that we will never take them to a restaurant and will exercise judgement to get a babysitter or a kid-targeted eatery.”
I was super close to saying something to the family, maybe with a little passive aggression, but not overtly rude. I wouldn’t tell them how to raise their kid, just that they should be considerate of those around them. I didn’t and now I regret it. Because sometimes we have to point out the obvious for people to grasp reality.
So to that family out there and all the families like them, take a look around and watch as the world revolves around the sun and not your nuclear center.