People love to argue about what you should do with your child, especially if you decide to emerge from your hovel and feed your child in a public non-gulag. I love and hate these type of discussions because no one is right and everyone is right. Don’t bring your crying baby to a fancy place, don’t bring your hungry kids to a garbage bin joint, don’t bring your kids anywwhere, folks. Oh, you can’t afford a babysitter? Don’t have kids then! WELL, PROBLEM SOLVED INTERNET! THANK YOU! SO HELPFUL! Where were you the night my husband decided to play the Peter Cetera CD? Do you know what that sweet baby-making voice does to me?! ANSWER: TWO KIDS!
We don’t eat a fancy places, and now with my diet in full KRS-One dropping the mic, picking the mic back up, yelling about my diet some more then dropping it again effect, I can’t be at places that cook with the good stuff, like butter. But I have some thoughts on this!
I love my boys, I do, but I know their limitations and they are not the refined Top Chef palate cherubs who could distinguish that type of mushroom was foraged for this meal. They devour food like air, like they are afraid some gremlin is going to snatch the plate mid-meal unless they inhale it quickly which is ridiculous because the last time Nathan got on a scale, which is after I got the scale, he weighed 73 pounds so he’s not missing any meals. He’s just not having one that’s been rated by Zagat’s.
They are not fancy restaurant people and even if we did bring them to a non-buffet, non-ending with -enny’s restaurant, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself. I already worry enough that they get into people’s spaces, or they turn around in the booth and talk to the couple next to us, a couple that is without their children or maybe they don’t have any children at all and they can have white leather couches because even though that is a very 80s aesthetic, they don’t have to worry about dirty footprints made by tiny cavemen children.
I like these places because I can relax. Children are welcome. Children are expected. There is a claw machine outside the doors that say, hey, children and their quarter-toting parents can eat here. My children don’t run around, but if they want to disappear underneath the booth table with my legs acting like a cage, that’s fine.
One time we were at Denny’s and I was getting my kids to color and settle down when the woman in the booth next to us flagged the waitress and made it very clear, “I want to be moved to another table! It’s too loud!” And I did feel for her because she was eating alone and maybe she wanted to enjoy a meal, regardless of where she was (not French Laundry) or how much it cost (a load of laundry quarters), she had that right, but she bellowed into the air like my children burrowed a hole through the vinyl seats and Shawshank Redemptioned their way into her space. There’s no need for that. And as we left kids headed for the money pit claw machine, I saw that another family was seated next to her, one with a baby. A loud, crying baby. I don’t know if she asked for another seat, but maybe she regretted moving in the first place since my kids had settled down the moment she fled our vicinity.
I assume that most parents are watching their children and hoping they learn to behave in public, that there are rules, and this is how you abide by them. Those lessons are not possible to teach in a vortex. So I’m doing my best to teach them these things, Denny’s lady, party of one is the loneliest number.
But sometimes I don’t want to have the restaurant experience at all because I know what my kids are capable of. When Nathan was a wee little one, I had a huge craving for this clam and mussel dish but I didn’t want to bring him into the restaurant, I just wanted the food. I called and asked to please make their delicious clam and mussels to go and the woman said, “That’s not the way we want people to enjoy our food.” And I said, “Yeahhhh, but I have a kid and I don’t want to disturb the enjoyment of other guests.” And they got it ready and Mike and Nathan waited in the car so I could swoop in, pick up my food, eat it as I wanted to, and not worry about other people.
Why can’t these arguments also include comments like: Parents, don’t be entitled jerkfaces who think you can bring a baby to a place that requires a jacket and a high credit score and a report card history of A’s in AP Economics. You know what your child’s witching hour is and what loud noises and restaurant commotion does to an already hungry little person. Plan wisely. Bring snacks. Tip well. And people without kids, sometimes parents want to enjoy what it’s like to be in public and amongst the living and maybe there wasn’t a babysitter available that night or maybe they wanted to expose their child to other living people and they are doing their best to keep their child happy before the food comes out or even after the food comes out and trying to savor just a minute of enjoyment until the bill comes and it’s time to pack up. Or even before that and they give up and get the food to go because it’s too hard. If you look at them, have an empathetic face, the face ou make when you watch a cat video. It works for humans too! Even if you ask to be seated elsewhere, and you do deserve to eat and enjoy your meal, don’t make it sound like this family had committed a terrible crime.
Everyone is fighting a great battle, some people just have kids in their army.