• Fri, May 2 - 9:00 am ET

Loud Babies Don’t Belong in Restaurants And No One Knows That More Than Parents

crying-babies-in-restaurantsI consider myself to be a pretty non-judgmental person. I really don’t care how you birth your kid, how you feed your kid, and how you raise your kid, as long as you don’t bring your screaming kid into a fancy restaurant.

After that whole Alinea debacle in January I thought we had all come to a pretty universal conclusion; if you’re going somewhere that it takes four hours to get your meal that will cost lots and lots of money, leave your kid at home. And no, this wasn’t something we established during our annual “Childless Bitch Initiative Conference”  at the Hilton. Parents know more than anyone how annoying babies can be.

Well, we’re all getting tut-tutted over at The Powder Room, because if you don’t like babies screaming at your restaurant, that you must be “childless,” you’re almost certainly  classist, and somehow it is probably also the millennials’ fault:

“So much of the objection is deeply rooted in classism. Apparently, if you can only afford to eat at the Olive Garden for your best date nights, you deserve what you get – maybe you should have made more money or stayed home if you didn’t want to deal with children being children. There’s a certain arrogance that informs the idea that dinner at a place like Alinea is somehow sacrosanct and to be held in highest regard, but people at Chili’s haven’t earned a meal in peace.”

No. There is too much no here. First let’s talk about what this person is assuming to be true, and that’s that anyone goes to The Olive Garden on date night. Come on.

Second, I don’t care where I am. I don’t care if I spend $200 on a meal or $15 on a meal, I still don’t want to hear your kid scream. Of course, that’s based on the understanding that I am a very crotchety, very cranky individual. With that said, if your baby cries in a Chili’s, I feel that I have rescinded the right to side eye you. Chili’s is a family place. I’m likely there with my family.

But yeah, if the meal costs more, my looks will get progressively dirtier, my passive aggressive “Oh my goodness, can you believe this?” will get progressively snarkier, until eventually I’m just staring at you rudely, hoping that the discomfort you feel is almost as uncomfortable as the shrill cry of your infant as they squirm in their seat.

I don’t think that people who expect peace and quiet at an expensive restaurant are entitled, classist, or, as the author suggests, “childless”:

“So to all the childless adults inconvenienced by children on their special night, if you’re eating at Alinea, you’re already doing better than most. Quit complaining about the 3% of the time they have to deal with children instead of thanking the stars and birth control for the other 97%. You just need to stop it.”

Even if I were childfree, I would never stop. Never. A lot of people that complain about kids in restaurants aren’t the barren-wombed shrews that this author imagines. They’re me. They’re my husband. They are parents that have one-one!-cotdamn night to go out every year, they’ve saved for it, booked a sitter, booked a back up sitter. Legs have been shaved past the knee, people. So please leave your kids at home.

I’d also like to offer the following rebuttal: People who want to enjoy a night out in peace after spending far too much money aren’t “whiny and entitled”, the parents who tote their kids everywhere, even to Michelin-starred restaurants are, and they’re raising the next bunch of entitled whiners, too. Some places aren’t for kids. No. Not even your kid, the specialist of all the dazzling snowflakes.

If you want to make everyone uncomfortable by bringing your screaming infant or prone-to-tantrums toddler into a three-star place well past everyone’s bedtime, than I think you’re a douche. If you then make a stink about the place not having changing tables/not having saltines for your kid to smush on the floor/calling you out for being a selfish jerk, then you might be the elusive megadouche.

Do kids need to learn situation specific behavior? Sure. Why not start with the situation specific behavior of not being bored to the point of crying or being shitty at a restaurant or symphony or museum, just because you can’t be arsed to figure out a better solution.

(Image: Kzenon/Shutterstock)

 

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  • JenH1986

    I feel like, after reading this, we should be friends. I do not side eye (much) at a family restaurant. If it’s clearly a romantic place, bar, or past 9 pm I’m throwing major side eye about the screaming kid. Other places not ok to bring kids: attorneys office, mental health counselor session, MRI’s, weddings when specifically asked not to bring a kid (I’d argue weddings are never a place for kids but, I’m apparently the devil incarnate for that so), meeting with your accountant, closing for your home or any place where you need to focus on what someone is saying.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      we can be internet friends if you want.

    • JenH1986

      DONE!

    • Syd

      I’m beyond with you on the wedding thing. Who would even want to deal with their kid at a wedding? Having junior with you prevents you from enjoying the best part of weddings-the open bar.

      *This opinion is based on your general, evening, dinner-and-open-bar wedding. I understand things change a bit if you have a more casual, brunch-type wedding, or if you have your own children in the wedding.

    • JenH1986

      Most of my friends are like I “have” to get a sitter, DAMN! But when we got married I specifically said “no kids” not because I don’t love kids but because I wanted to enjoy our wedding and not have little feet under me etc. I cannot tell you the phone calls, texts and emails I received. More than a few people said “then we won’t be attending”. My response “Cool, more food for me!”

    • Syd

      My wedding is in four months and there will be NO children invited. The youngest people there will be my step-sisters, who are bridesmaids, and they are both in their teens. Luckily, i’m the first in my family to get married and no one from my generation has children yet. Is it a normal thing for non-immediate family members to bring their children? Sure, I’d like some of my work friends to attend, but why should I pay for a meal for your five kids that i’ve never met? Especially when your children would probably rather get a root canal then attend my adult wedding where they don’t know anyone…

      SOME THINGS ARE ADULT-ONLY. Why is that so hard for some people to comprehend?

    • rrlo

      I had kids at my wedding and they had a wonderful time. This is in no way a comment on kids at the wedding – it is entirely up to the folks getting married. I just wanted to mention that it isn’t necessarily unheard of to have kids attend a wedding. I think it depends on the family, culture and the situation.

      I don’t know how your friends/family approached it but I usually ask the bride and groom if kids are invited to the wedding just to confirm. Not that I expect them to invite kids but just to make sure. I hope the couple doesn’t take it as a personal affront.

    • JenH1986

      To clear up any confusion (because it happens!) I specifically put on our invitations “This is an adult only celebration”. Because it’s hardly fair to have people know you don’t want kids if you don’t tell them. Obviously those closest to me knew but telling 100 people “no kids” was easiest on the invite.

    • rrlo

      That’s a good idea. I guess putting the names of the attendees specifically on the invitation works as well – Mr. & Mrs. So and so.

    • JenH1986

      I tried that, but it was still confusing for some.

    • Tinyfaeri

      I’d stick with adults only if kids are truly not welcome. Sometimes if you leave it open to interpretation at all, people will assume things.

    • Alicia

      I did that and ended up with an RSVP coming back with a name added onto it – I politely told them that they could not bring the extra person and in the end they decided not to come. No loss. As for kids, we had some children attend (nieces and nephews mostly) and had no issues on the day but I did have to tell some people that they couldn’t bring their children purely due to capacity issues. If I had kids and was invited to a wedding that was adults only, I’d like to think that I’d be happy for a night out without them! Each to their own though.

    • Kendra

      I agree, it’s a decision for the couple to make. We had a lot of kids at my wedding. There were no issues and everyone had fun. My sister had just a had a baby, he was 7 weeks. He was at the ceremony, no problems. It just depends on the situation.

    • JJ

      haha I say good for you and good riddance to those cranky parents who can’t drag all the kids with them. Like really if you want to bring your kids that bad but it says no kids on the invitation just politely say, “I’m sorry but we can’t attend we can’t get a babysitter, but congratulations to the both of you”. Why the need to be so bitchy to the engaged couple just because your special snowflake can’t run around the dance floor, smush the cake with their hands and cry throughout the ring exchanging.

    • val97

      My sister in law got married when my youngest was 6 weeks old. We were all invited, so we all went. It was hot, I was nursing every 2 hours in a spaghetti strap dress (WHY? I ask younger me every time I see the photos), and we barely made it through 20 minutes of the reception before leaving. My 5 year old cried because that meant no cake. Yeah, we found out the hard way that kids and weddings don’t mix.

    • Sarah

      I thought “no kids at a wedding” was a pretty standard rule! What if your kid starts screaming during the ceremony? A few of my friends have hired a bunch of sitters to play with the kids during the wedding and reception, I thought that was over the top nice of them.

    • JenH1986

      Nope. Apparently “invite every single human being you know and their offspring” is the norm. At least around here. For not having kids we have kid friendly home. We never say no when friends say “can we bring the kids” We have kid movies and toys at our house. “Wanna go shopping? I have the kids, though” never deters me. But I think weddings are adult events. Apparently I’m in the minority. :(

    • Sarah

      Bizarre! The only wedding I have ever been invited to that was kid-friendly was in a barn. The bride wore cowboy boots. They had buckets of natty ice. It smelled like cow shit.

    • rrlo

      In a lot of cultures it is very common to invite kids (South Asian, even Greek/Italian) – weddings are traditionally a family thing. Also, many family with lots of kids tend to have them at the wedding too.
      Again, it’s a personal decision of those getting married. I just wanted to say it’s not weird either way.

    • Sarah

      Oh yeah, I definitely just meant that it seems standard in our culture. I’ve seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding :)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      I’m scared to ask…
      What in god’s name is “natty ice”?

      I misread it at first as nutty ice and now I keep imagining buckets of walnuts and peanuts freezing

    • Sarah

      Natural Ice! It’s a very…lowbrow beer. I’m not to good for natty ice though ;)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      AHA!
      I feel enlightened now!

    • JJ

      I agree I don’t see weddings typically as a kid thing unless the kid is a very major part of the family or the ceremony (like the kid of the couple or the ring bearer etc). In fact I went to a lot of weddings as a kid because I had a lot of relatives and you know what? Most if not all of the weddings were boring to us as kids. We didn’t even want to really be there but we were dragged there at the time because they were family weddings. I and the other kids would have much preferred to hang out at home with a babysitter watching a movie or tv if we had the option. I’m pretty sure our parents got sick of hearing, “can we go home? When is the wedding over?”.

    • EmmaFromÉire

      I would want my wedding to be adult only because i don’t want to have to pay for extra plates, and want everyone to be Irish Family Wedding drunk.

    • Jessica

      Is a wedding not the ultimate family event, what with two families coming together and all? That includes grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and yeah, kids too. Traditionally, at least.

    • Jessica

      Edit: though if that baby gets fussy you better get them out of the ceremony, STAT!

    • Sarah

      I don’t think it is the ultimate family event…it’s a wedding! Even super traditional weddings I have been to in churches still had people put their kids (under a certain age) in the daycare room…unless they were part of the ceremony, in which case they came out for that part and then disappeared again. I would never be mad that someone told me I couldn’t bring my toddler to their wedding, it makes sense to me.

    • Jessica

      Haha, I knew that would be an unpopular opinion when I wrote it! But I feel that the weddings where the whole family is included seem a lot more joyful. You have to be able to stand a certain amount of chaos for a marriage to survive anyway. However, I do agree that the wishes of couple throwing the party should be respected!

    • Ursi

      I don’t disagree on the overall idea that weddings can be a child-friendly event. I think people are more reacting to the idea that some parents like to push it as a “family” event when that’s not really a requirement of a wedding. I see far more couples getting pressure from family to allow children and being treated as though there’s something wrong with them for not wanting that. I wanted an adults-only wedding but I was overruled (which is fine, because I left 90% of the wedding planning to my spouse so he had the veto decision on it) and it was a small affair.

      I don’t think a couple needs to explain themselves if it’s an adults only affair.

    • Syd

      I just think the bottom line is that children under a certain age improve a wedding (or fine dinner, or similar event) for exactly no one. You know who doesn’t enjoy a bunch of adults, loud music and drinks at 11 o’clock at night? A three year old.

    • keelhaulrose

      It is, like so many other events, the decision of the hosts whether or not they want children. They who pay the check make the rule on that one.
      I can see why some people don’t want kids. You can get your baby out of there as quickly as possible if they start fusing, but that’s no guarantee they won’t scream unexpectedly during the vows.

    • the_ether

      I’m fine with that…so long as I don’t get bitched out for not coming. I have two weddings on during the month after this baby is due, and I am pretty sure I still won’t know what the hell I’m doing, let alone be willing to leave a newborn with someone else for a full day/night. And I say this as someone who had a no-kids wedding.

    • val97

      I think it depends on the type of wedding. Ours was definitely a family event – the reception was casual and the ceremony only took 5-10 minutes. But some ceremonies are very long and religious, some receptions are incredibly fancy, so I can see why not everyone wants kids at their wedding. But it should be stated on the invite because many people just assume kids are invited, especially if they grew up attending family weddings.

    • Sarah

      Yeah, like have you ever been to a Catholic ceremony? I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a grapefruit spoon than bring my toddler to one.

    • http://batman-news.com Bunny Lou

      I would rather gouge my eyeballs out with a grapefruit spoon than go to a Catholic wedding ceremony…

      “Sorry I can’t make it to your wedding, I am actually Satan and I will burst into flame upon entrance of a place of worship.”

    • the_ether

      I like to make a lot of those jokes. “I’ve gotta go find a bar, I can’t spend any longer on hallowed ground or I’ll start combusting.”

    • Sarah

      lol ACCURATE

    • Notamused

      Rude.

    • Kay_Sue

      Depends on the couple. My friend was married recently and children were invited. But…the youngest was my three year old. So there were no babies, and she was really familiar with all the kids and their behavior. Really depends on the situation.

    • Tinyfaeri

      It depends on the couple. We had 2 in a month last summer, one had kids (and I ended up missing the last part of it for a diaper change, and we left the reception a little early with a very tired toddler), and one did not. There were a few kids at our wedding, but it was decidedly not fussy or very formal, and we knew and loved all the kids.

    • Tinyfaeri

      It depends on the couple. We had 2 in a month last summer, one had kids (and I ended up missing the last part of it for a diaper change, and we left the reception a little early with a very tired toddler), and one did not. There were a few kids at our wedding, but it was decidedly not fussy or very formal, and we knew and loved all the kids.

    • Lindsay

      The only kids invited to my wedding are the kids in my ceremony. My nephews, niece, and “honorary niece” (my friend’s daughter, who I’m very close to). Two ring bearers, two flower girls.
      As a pre-k teacher, it’s kind of the one day that I really, really don’t want random kids screaming in my ear. I love my job, but not on my wedding day.

    • Blahblah

      I want a no kids wedding (as in, not even mine). I’ve already gotten some clutching of pearls at it. Like, how dare I not want to share my special day with some snot nosed kid who’ll spend the whole ceremony squirming and talking and his mother will refuse to carry him out? Or how dare I not want my special day to be overrun by the “adorable” kids crowding onto the dance floor when I do my first dance?

      The sad part is that not every kid in the family is like that. There are just a few parents who either don’t want to parent, or actually enjoy making sure their kids are the center of every event, and I’m not spending months planning an event and spending money on everything for your kid to be the show. It’s MY special day. And I hate when people say “You’re marrying the family.” Bull crap I am. I am marrying one person, and if it isn’t you, you probably don’t get any say in what I’m choosing.

      A long rant to say; I feel you.

    • JenH1986

      Yep. There were kids we could have invited. But there is one family in particular I was legitimately worried would allow their kids to destroy DJ equipment and what not so I just said No to all. It worked out and I loved every minute of my kid free wedding!

    • JJ

      Sadly there is a lot of great, well behaved kids out there who a lot of us would love to invite to weddings but with that comes inviting the bratty ones who’s parents don’t discipline them. But if you don’t invite spoiled ones and the parents see the good kids suddenly its a drama fest of “why wasn’t my precious invited but those kids are?”.

    • Kaili

      How great would it be if you could actually say “Jane is a good mother and her kids are well behaved. Your kids suck”.

    • http://batman-news.com Bunny Lou

      I’d do it. But that’s because I’m not afraid to be a bitch to people who annoy me.

    • Momma425

      It depends on the wedding.
      I’m in a wedding this summer, that my husband is also in and we will be bringing my daughter because she is the flower girl.
      My daughter came to my wedding and I was SO thankful for parents who brought their kids because my daughter had something to DO during the time my husband and I were doing “bride and groom” stuff. You know, other than hang out with my wedding party.
      We bring my daughter to family weddings because everyone brings kids, but for friends, I ask them what they would prefer. It really depends on the wedding type, the size of the wedding, and the couple.

    • JenH1986

      I agree it should depend on the wedding. If its’ family or a laid back wedding. I just don’t get the hate thrown at someone who says no to kids.

    • momma425

      Oh yeah, I have no problem getting a sitter, or choosing not to go if I can’t find one. If the invitation does specify no kids, I’m not offended at all. Sometimes I will get a sitter anyway if it is a night wedding and my kid should be in bed. If the invitation doesn’t specify one way or the other, I will call and ask. I don’t want my kid to be the only one there. Or assume wrong and be the jackass who brought my 5 year old.

    • Rachel Sea

      Depends on the venue and the guests. I work weddings on the side, and some venues are very family friendly, with wide open lawns that make it super easy to have kids of all ages, so that as long as it isn’t a group that’s getting completely plastered, having the kids there is fun. Some places are an absolute nightmare, with antique furniture, and statuary, and ponds, and all manner of cack that is REALLY attractive to kids, and is just a massive accident waiting to happen.

    • JenH1986

      We got married in a park (nightmare to keep kids quiet with a swing set in view) and our reception all was small. I agree it should always ultimately be up to the couple, but my husband and I have already discussed that unless any kids are IN the wedding, we are going solo. It’s an adult evening out. But if a couple feels its appropriate (and as you mentioned its kid friendly!) then more power to them.

  • Ursi

    I know this is almost beside the point but I can’t not mention this line:

    “So to all the childless adults inconvenienced by children on their special night, if you’re eating at Alinea, you’re already doing better than most.”

    NO!

    A thousand times over, no! That’s bullshit. Some people like myself have been planning a long time for a special day with the spouse at Alinea someday. Some people do value dining at at one of the top rated restaurants over a vacation. Alinea and other world-class restaurants are not just for rich people, they don’t ask for your bank statements at the door! It really pisses me off that people think that dropping $500 on a meal makes you some kind of insane millionaire. Do you know what I think is mental? Spending $500+ on a wedding dress that you wear once in your life. Spending $200 on a handbag when you could get one at Target for $10. I don’t value those things at all. I’d rather spend my free fun money on the rare occasion of a spectacular dinner. That doesn’t make me some kind of radical snob. I hate the assumption that only people with too much money would to spend hundreds of dollars on a meal.

    Please do not bring your whiny kid to the dinner I saved a massive portion of my salary to attend. I’m not rich. I can’t do this kind of thing every week!

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      Thank you! I think it’s more classist to assume that everyone at a Michelin is there on a whim. I’m still saving for my honeymoon, and I was married three years ago.

    • tiomela

      This. All of this.
      Me too.

    • SunnyD847

      I’m the opposite. I love my handbags which I use daily and can’t understand dropping that much money on a meal. But that doesn’t mean I want my cheap(er) meals ruined by screaming kids.

    • Ursi

      Most people seem to be along that line of thinking, I don’t mean to insinuate that I am somehow more correct, I’m just saying that we all value different things and I don’t like when people assume that if I have dinner there I ought to just deal with noise because I must obviously be wealthy. I’ve had more than one person tell me that going to a Michelin star restaurant is a huge waste of money if you aren’t.

      No one should have their meal ruined by screaming children but at a family restaurant I am more prepared to accept that risk than at a place with a more adults-only vibe with a high priced menu. After all, nothing short of fire or flood is going to get me out of that restaurant and even then I’ll be shoving crab legs into my mouth as I run…

    • SunnyD847

      Oh, I didn’t think you were. I understand valuing an experience because I love to travel and would rather spend money on that than anything else.

    • arrow2010

      There’s always Denny’s for the rest of us. Early bird special!

    • SunnyD847

      I’m the opposite. I love my handbags which I use daily and can’t understand dropping that much money on a meal. But that doesn’t mean I want my cheap(er) meals ruined by screaming kids.

    • JenH1986

      All day. How many people were at Alinea that night who had spent the better part of a year saving for that night? If I’m at Frisch’s on a Saturday afternoon, I expect for screaming kids. If I’m at Jeff Ruby’s on a Saturday night I’m not.

    • arrow2010

      Well it definitely isn’t like getting an 8:30 rez at Dorsia. Great sea urchins ceviche.

    • keelhaulrose

      My husband and I are set to drop about $500 for a weekend away this weekend (we’ve already spent about $250 on tickets and a hotel room, so half our budget). We’ve been saving for MONTHS to get this money, and have been looking forward to it, especially the nice dinner, for just as long. I’m going to be pissed if someone else’s kids ruin any part of it. I can’t afford nice dinners often, and I can’t afford to be away from my kids often, I don’t want to deal with someone else’s screamers.

  • SunnyD847

    Yeah, when you have the opportunity to get away from your kids for an evening, it sucks to listen to someone else’s kid scream. I wouldn’t mind you bringing your kid if you would do the decent thing and take them out of the room if they start acting up. Maybe you end up eating in shifts, that’s the price you pay when you bring your kid out to dinner. Don’t ruin everyone else’s evening because of your decision.

  • journalgal2

    I’ll never forget my first trip to Vegas last year. It was about 11 p.m., I was enjoying a very casual meal with friends, and I was SHOCKED at how many parents were dragging crying, exhausted little ones around. One little boy about 3 BEGGED his mom to let him go to bed. “No, Mommy wants to look around some more.” EXCUSE ME??? My heart broke for the poor little guy and I wanted to slap that selfish so-and-so right in the face. When we have kids, that means we sometimes have to do things differently, like leave early or leave them at home altogether.

    • SunnyD847

      When we were in Vegas with the kids we arranged for a sitter from an agency (not though the hotel who wanted to charge a FORTUNE!) It was very affordable and we could all have our fun.

    • Jessica

      Poor little guy! I can’t imagine forcing a sleepy child to stay up/out.

    • keelhaulrose

      I was at Disney World, which obviously a family friendly place, on one of their open late days, and I was shocked at the number of kids begging to leave because they were exhausted and the parents were saying they just wanted to go on a few more rides.
      I felt horrible for those kids. Way to wreck the magic, mom and dad.

    • Ro

      Yeah, my husband and I were in Vegas in February and we were shocked by how many small children we saw up very late. Usually being dragged around the casino with their parents.

    • journalgal2

      It was one thing to see the little babies snoozing in strollers (not my thing but at least they were getting sleep) but the crying toddlers and preschoolers made me want to cry right along with them. Maybe I’m being too harsh but that borders on abuse to me.

    • Ro

      Agreed.

    • Lackadaisical

      Yes when it gets very late at night of course babies and small children would cry and act up. They are tired and want to go to bed. At 11pm that seems even more unfair on the toddler than the other patrons.

    • shadow guest

      A couple of my college friends and I went skiing for New Year’s this last December, and we stayed at a pretty “partyish” condo for springbreakers and hooligans, and I’m not gonna lie listening to a toddler or whatever scream next door was irritating, but I’m sure the parents weren’t thrilled to be surrounded by Frat Party Central either. We knew to expect families and they knew they were going to Breckenridge on New year’s so despite their child’s existence there would be noise. We were just WAITING for them to knock on the door and lecture us but when it didn’t happen were pleasently surprised.

  • candyvines

    Where do I sign up to be a Dazzling Snowflake Specialist?

  • Jessica

    Whenever my baby cries in public, I am far more uncomfortable with it than anyone else. I assumed most parents feel this way.

  • TwentiSomething Mom

    I know my kid can be a pain in the ass, which is why I don’t bring him to nice places. He did start his shit at Olive Garden about a year ago and we took our food to go and paid the bill because we could tell he was being a nuisance to everyone there, including the the families with children.

    • journalgal2

      That’s called self-awareness, which sadly too many people don’t have.

    • Effervescent Pheasant

      I couldn’t agree more!

    • Butt Trophy Recipient

      Quitter!

    • SunnyD847

      It’s also call common courtesy, another quality many people lack

    • Jessifer

      Yup, mine’s under 12 months old and I refuse to bring him anywhere to eat, other than a food court at a mall! There’s no way we’d even get to enjoy our meal – I’d spend the entire time with him crying to sit on my lap and then having to push all the food and cutlery to the centre of the table so that he doesn’t grab it. When he becomes more mature, then *maybe* we’ll try going out for brunch every once in a while and see how he does. I figure it’s appropriate since it’s in the morning when he’s in a good mood, it’s a meal served quickly, and breakfast crowds are usually pretty laid-back.

    • whiteroses

      Yes. You know what other people paid for when they sat down at the restaurant? A good meal, and possibly the ability to talk to their dining companions.
      You know what they didn’t pay for? The ability to listen to my toddler cry.

  • preggy preggerton

    “First let’s talk about what this person is assuming to be true, and that’s that anyone goes to The Olive Garden on date night. Come on.”

    This poor person does. There are other restaurants in town that I would way rather go to, but we’re poor. Really poor. A night at the Olive Garden is a very special treat. Does it suck? Yes. Do I hate my life sometimes? Yes. Do I hate my life more when I read things like that on the internet? Definitely.

    Just because it’s not your experience doesn’t mean it’s everyone’s.

    • val97

      This is true. I worked at a chain restaurant for many years, and one of our busiest nights, surprisingly, was Valentine’s Day.

    • JenH1986

      White Castle near us has to have a reservation list on V-Day for that reason. They’ve made it a huge event and all that but, yea.

    • keelhaulrose

      I know people make fun of the McDonald’s offering the ‘special’ Valentine’s Day dinner with candlelight, but for some people being able to afford McDonald’s is a rare treat, and they want to go on a day that makes it feel a little bit special.

    • JenH1986

      Yep. I think that’s how it started with White Castle. But whatever works. My husband and I order pizza in. that’s a treat for us!

    • keelhaulrose

      My husband and I go to this brewery/restaurant for our special nights out, but to most of the people around here (I live in a rich area) is more along the lines of a Chili’s. Perspective changes with how much money you have.

    • Tea

      Olive garden was our date night for years, until we became too poor to swing it.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      Oh no! I didn’t mean that! I have had many a date night at 5 Guys. I just think OG is gross.

    • Ursi

      It’s definitely overpriced for the quality. You could get a lot better for a lot less.

    • whiteroses

      Yes. Or (humblebrag ahead) if you learned how to cook in Italy and have a husband who grew up there, you can just stay home and cook.

    • arrow2010

      Yeah the class-ism in the article reeks.

    • Ddaisy

      Where I live, Olive Garden is a special treat, because it’s an American chain that, although it exists in Canada, it’s not common. We have to drive two and a half hours to the nearest big city to eat there. It’s a big deal.

      Also, who doesn’t love endless breadsticks? :)

    • Jayamama

      Totally agree. I live in a small town in a middle of the desert, so if we want something a little special (read: not the four restaurants in town), we have to drive 45 minutes to a not-quite-as-small town for Red Lobster or Chili’s, and it is a treat. In fact, I’ve been having a hankering for Red Lobster’s biscuits lately. We haven’t gone since the week before I was due with my now almost six-month-old baby as a last hurrah. We’re going to try to make the trip kids-free at the end of the month for my birthday, and I hope to not have to sit next to a screaming child since I purposely left mine with Grandma. It doesn’t really matter where you are or how expensive the meal is. Teach your children to be well-behaved in restaurants or remove them from the situation if they have a melt-down. It’s just common courtesy.

  • Miriam

    Maybe I’m just a bitch, which is quite possible, but I think all babies/kids crying, screaming, throwing tantrums, etc. should be taken out of any restaurant, regardless of how much you’re spending. It’s annoying, and the parents should just be respectful of other people.

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      This goes for drunks and douchebags too, fwiw, not just babies

    • rrlo

      It depends on how long they are crying – if it is a for a really short period of time before they calm down – don’t think it’s realistic to expect parents will just leave.

    • Miriam

      Agreed.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      I am with you on this one, I think. If the kid starts fussing, try to address it immediately. If it becomes clear the kid isn’t going to calm down after a minute or two, remove him or her from the situation for a bit. If the kid is still not calming down, it’s time to go. Sometimes places are just too stimulating, or the kid is too tired, or doesn’t feel well, or whatever.

    • rrlo

      Oh yeah. Totally agree.

      Although I would like those (especially without kids) to understand that sometimes it may take 10 to 15 minutes to gather up all the kid paraphernalia, get the food to go and pay for the bill before the family can leave. And depending on the number of kids/weather, it may not be possible for the family to leave the restaurant during that time.

    • Jennifer Freeman

      Agreed! I think if the parents are doing what they can to diffuse the situation, all is good.

    • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

      I totally understand it can take a bit of time to pack up and get out of there when a kid’s screaming. If the parents are trying to get things packed up and paid for quickly, I’m not bothered by that. If they’re taking their sweet ass time (or only one parent is trying to do things and the other is just sitting there on their phone) then I get a bit annoyed.

    • rrlo

      Yeah – I am thinking that someone without kids may not be aware of the logistics of exiting successfully from a restaurant with a cranky child. It can take a while to do anything with little ones – especially when you have multiple.

      Also, I am thinking sometimes the servers can be late bringing out your food – in those cases parents may linger a bit longer (not to be a jerk but just because they are expecting the food to come any minute).

      All I am getting at is that many parents with crying children may not be hanging around just be a jerk – sometimes it’s unintentional or other things are at play. That’s all :).

    • Kendra

      Yeah, my kid started screaming in KFC because she couldn’t reach her straw because the cup was too tall. I just pulled her out of the chair, sat her on my lap, and gave her the drink. It was less than 1 minute.

    • Lackadaisical

      Agreed, you have to consider the other diners

  • val97

    I just do not understand how a person can go to a restaurant – any restaurant – and sit there and let their kid cry for more than a few minutes. I don’t even care if it’s Denny’s. I’m going to give major side eye to any parent who thinks that’s acceptable. My husband will probably shoot eye daggers at them. Pop a boob or bottle in their mouth, take them outside and walk around, anything, but if someone is just sitting there doing nothing while their kid is crying in a public place, I will judge. I was a big fan of pacifiers because I am old school, for toddlers we had a count to 5 rule. The only time I give a pass is if there is literally no where to go (like on a plane or subway). If this makes me crotchety, oh well.

    • http://fakegeekmom.com Aimee Ogden

      Totally. Yeah, it can get on my nerves to fly Screaming Baby Airlines, especially when I was flying home exhausted after working a bunch of 12-to-14 hour shifts; but I understand that. I get it, Baby, I’m tired too. This sucks for everyone, but what can you do? But when parents take a baby to a restaurant – be it Arby’s or Le Bernardin – and just let them cry, THAT bothers me. It’s inconsiderate to your fellow diners, sure; but it’s REALLY inconsiderate to your poor kid, who doesn’t understand why she has to sit in this high chair and watch you eat and why you aren’t trying to help her. Yeah, sometimes you just can’t soothe an upset kid, but I’ve seen people just ignore sobbing babies with an “oh, he’s fine”. Really? There’s no possible world in which the kid could have a wet diaper, be hungry, be tired, want a pacifier, or need burping? I’m on board with a certain amount of yelling kid when I go out to eat, but I have side-eye when it’s more important to you to finish your whole milkshake before it melts than to make sure your kid is okay.

    • SarahJesness

      Agreed. Even if a restaurant is kid friendly, there is still a certain social protocol. No screaming in people’s ears for ten minutes straight, no running around and getting under people’s feet, especially if waiters are carrying heavy trays with hot food…

    • Lilly

      Yes, this is my issue — I only give side-eye to parents who make no attempt to calm their baby/toddler/child, doesn’t matter where it is.

    • JJ

      Seriously. We were raised, my siblings and I, that if we were acting up, fussy or running around screaming outside of the house we go home even if were just at MacDonald’s. Doesn’t matter what the cost of the food is or the setting if you keep crying or misbehaving for so long and don’t stop we take our food to go. Other people don’t want to listen to that there whole meal or shopping trip. If this is not an absolutely neccesary thing were we can’t leave, such as a plane trip or doctors office waiting room, than we left until we could calm down. Wasn’t really that hard for the past generations but now that seems to be a whole issue with the more current generations,

    • Keneli

      We went to a restaurant once with our 3 month old. She was our first child, I was tired from being up at nights, in no mood to cook, and wanted to see a room other than those in my home. Which I did – primarily the restaurant bathroom. Which I ended up in for about 30 minutes, because while I was getting my food (it was a buffet) I heard a baby cry, thought it sounded like mine, then thought “how egotistical, to think every baby making noise has to be mine” to then return to my seat and find out – yup, it was mine. My husband had decided to eat a rib, and for some reason that caused her to have full-blown hysteria. I tried for about 2 minutes to soothe her to no avail. Due to it being the aforementioned buffet, we couldn’t just cut our losses, ask for take-out and leave. So what did I do? I took her into an individual bathroom they had, which echoed her screams for me while muting them for everyone else, and rocked/soothed her until her cries subsided. Because I am a nice person? No, I’m kind of a bitch. But I’m not an inconsiderate bitch.

      (also as an aside, the Special Snowflake thing always bothered me.Not people using that phrase, the people thinking they are living it. Yes each individual flake is unique, but take it from a Canadian who just lived through what seemed like an endless winter – unless you actually handcrafted them yourself, they kind of all blend together and the amount of flakes + annoyance factor is an exponential relationship!)

  • http://www.yourabsoluteproperty.com Carson Chen
  • Lackadaisical

    I take my children to restaurants to learn public manners but never at grown up times. My youngest is 5 and there are three of them so I like to take them at lunch time or time it so we are out of the restaurant by 6:30 pm. As babies and toddlers they only did lunch times in restaurants and not the very fancy ones as diners expect a bit more noise, bustle and informality at lunch. Now they are older I want them to learn how to behave properly in a more formal public dining setting but compromise by making sure we do it early before those who want a stress free and child free night out arrive. Obviously, even at lunch or early evening, if my children acted badly or if they had made a lot of noise when babies we would have left immediately.

    • AE Vorro

      That’s awesome!

  • Kay_Sue

    It’s about being aware of your surroundings and considerate of those around you. Those rules apply wherever you are and whatever you are doing. That means whether your meal costs $1500 or $5. Whether you are in Saks or Wal Mart.

  • Mystik Spiral

    Ugh. Because if you can afford Alinea once, then you must go there all the time? Please. Some people save for months and don’t eat out at all to enjoy ONE night at a super fancy restaurant. In that case, it sure ISN’T 3% of their time that is ruined by a crying child, it’s more along the lines of 100%.

    Great article, Theresa. It’s nice to see parents call other parents douches for this type of thing. When those of us with no kids do it, we are heartless and classist.

    • keelhaulrose

      Even if it’s only 3% of the time you have no right to wreck that 3%.
      Would these people tolerate me having a very loud phone conversation at the table next to them? If they should be able to wreck my 3% with their screaming kids, I should be able to wreck their 3% with my conversation, right?

  • journalgal2

    I also have friends who are hosting a very fun wine and cheese event this weekend. They’ve bought STACKS of various cheeses, and we’ll all bring a bottle of wine and get together and eat and drink too much. The hosts put on the very casual (email and Facebook) invite “no children please.” You’d think by some of the reactions they got they were asking them to sell their children, not leave them at home for the night. “I can’t afford a sitter!”. That sucks, yes. But too bad, junior isn’t welcome this time.

    • Lackadaisical

      If I were a kid I would be bored out of my mind at a cheese and wine night

    • journalgal2

      Exactly! How awful would that sound to a kid!!

    • AE Vorro

      Right? Whenever I hear stories about kids being lugged to adult functions or restaurants, I always feel sorriest for the kids!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      I’m an adult and would probably be bored :)

    • Justme

      My parents used to throw massive drunken Bunco parties at our house and I always LOVED those nights because it meant lots of party food and watching Dirty Dancing upstairs in my parent’s room with my best-friend.

    • Ursi

      A wine centered event should be a no-brainer adults only. The implications is that there will be no kiddy snacks and nothing for kids to do at all. I don’t understand how anyone could be irritated by that…

    • keelhaulrose

      I’ve seen people bring their kids to an adult-only barbeque, then get mad there weren’t kid friendly things to do and that the hosts insisted we carry on ad if there were no kids, sex jokes and seeing included. The parents left quickly and, if course, left a Facebook rant about their horrible experience.

    • Rachel Sea

      On the very rare occasion that I host an adults-only evening, I have no issue telling people that anyone under 21 will be taught dirty jokes, and where babies come from.

    • keelhaulrose

      I was 21 and not half-drunk when this family showed up. I was also in the middle of a loud (to a mostly-deaf friend) explanation of ‘the Aristocrats’ joke, including some very sordid details of some of the examples I’ve heard. I paused when I saw the kids, but when I was told to plow ahead I didn’t think twice. I probably would have if sober, but that’s the way things went down.
      It’s completely rude to bring children to an event that was specified as adults-only. And if you don’t like your children hearing adult conversations don’t bring them to a place where they’re the only children and clearly not welcome.

    • K.

      WHO are these parents that want to be wrangling their kids at a wine and cheese party?!

      I envision a night of constant vigilance and stress as my husband and I take turns trying to make sure he’s not dumping red wine onto the couch or grounding cheese into the carpet or using empty wineglasses to transport dirt from potted ficuses into the toilet, all the while hovering over him until both of us succumb to back spasms and our child laughs in glee and triumph at our paralyzed bodies.

      In what universe is taking your (young) child to a wine and cheese party at all fun, social, and/or relaxing?!

    • journalgal2

      Exactly!!

    • JJ

      If these people can’t afford a sitter then just why can’t they just say No I cannot go that night but thanks for the invite. Lord knows my parents and relatives with kids turned down many invitations while raising little ones too. Ugh people. I remember once my cousin brought her son to my aunts all adult 50th birthday party. He was the only kid there since everyone else was sane enough to not want to party or get drunk around there kids or grand kids. But nope my cousin brought her toddler son who got in the way, knocked stuff over and did general normal toddler things because his grandparents (her parents) wanted her to be their sober driver. Because god forbid one of the grandparents just be sober while the other drinks that night no please drag your energetic, way past his bed time toddler grand kid here so your daughter can be the designated driver.

    • Justme

      My best friend is having a kegger tonight for her 31st birthday because she’s been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for the past three birthdays. When she told me about the party and mentioned that I might need a baby-sitter for overnight, I jumped at the chance of having an adults-only evening!

    • Ashley Austrew

      I don’t understand people like that. When I read the description of the party in your comment, even before I got to the “no children” part, I was thinking, oh ok, so not a kid-friendly event. It would never occur to me to bring my toddler to a wine and cheese party. On what planet would that be enjoyable? Find a sitter or don’t go.

  • Carolina

    I think assuming people don’t go to the Olive Garden for date night is a little classist. In my small hometown, the icky Tex-Mex place where I worked was PACKED on Valentine’s Day. Same thing when I worked at Red Lobster. In some places, there aren’t many options period or there aren’t many good, lower-cost options.

    But, bottom line is that some places are flat-out not for small children. Even in places that do allow small children, courtsey is a must. Don’t let them run around (unless it’s on a dedicated play ground), don’t let them tantrum inside, and if they cry for more than 30 seconds, take them outside for a break. Just because it’s Olive Garden doesn’t mean people will be charmed by your child kicking their seat or charging about the restaurant.

    • Mystik Spiral

      I think the Olive Garden comment was a little tongue-in-cheek. I could be wrong.

    • Sara610

      I think this is what irritates me about the “Olive Garden” argument. We’re currently in a place financially (husband in grad school, his income is highly erratic, we have a toddler in a crazy expensive day care) where Olive Garden is about as fancy as we get in terms of eating out. We don’t actually eat at the Olive Garden, but you get the idea. Our special night out is what some people would probably consider just another Wednesday night. Hopefully it won’t be like this forever, but it is now and we’re fine with that.

      The idea that common courtesy is only for people who can afford to spend $50 per person on dinner, and if your idea of a special night out is the Olive Garden, then you’re just shit out of luck, is horribly elitist. Rude behavior is rude behavior, no matter where it is. If my daughter started screaming up a storm, I’d take her out to calm down, regardless of whether we were at Alinea, the Olive Garden or Wendy’s

    • https://twitter.com/FaintlyXMacabre Theresa Edwards

      sorry, this one’s my bad. I think OG is gross, not that it’s for peasants or anything. But i can see how it comes across ugly.

  • http://www.sltrib.com/cat/justice Erin Alberty

    Olive Garden would have been considered a special meal for most of my life. I grew up in a town where everyone would have been thrilled to have an Olive Garden closer than 2 hours away. When Applebee’s opened, it was a huge deal. It is where people went for date night in that town. They expected to find children there — not because they’re poor country folk who can’t afford to have standards, but because it’s a family restaurant. The same people who tolerate noisy children at Applebee’s or Olive Garden would be mad to have crying babies at the movie afterward.

    If they magically got to enjoy a night at Alinea, they would probably be jarred by screaming babies. They might even see THAT as snobby — like, “Wow, I guess rich people think Alinea is so ho-hum they would bring their babies for Friday night family dinner here!” Then some grumbling about rich people thinking they can do whatever they want.

    • Guest

      I think this is what irritates me about the “Olive Garden” argument. We’re currently in a place financially (husband in grad school, his income is highly erratic, we have a toddler in a crazy expensive day care) where Olive Garden is about as fancy as we get in terms of eating out. We don’t actually eat at the Olive Garden, but you get the idea. Our special night out is what a lot of other people would probably consider just another Wednesday night. Hopefully it won’t be like this forever, but it is now and we’re fine with that.

      The idea that common courtesy is only for people who can afford to spend $50 per person on dinner, and if your idea of a special night out is the Olive Garden, then you’re just shit out of luck, is horribly elitist. Rude behavior is rude behavior, no matter where it is. If my daughter started screaming up a storm, I’d take her out to calm down, regardless of whether we were at Alinea, the Olive Garden or Wendy’s.

  • Greta Young

    Soooooo I’m one of those AWFUL PEOPLE that brings a toddler out to dinner. *shields self from internet punches and brick-throwing*

    Sometimes I have days after working for 8-10 hours out of the house already where THE. LAST. THING. I want to do is go home, come up with a meal idea, realize I’m out of onions or some other essential ingredient, drag my hungry kid to the grocery store, come home, cook the meal, and clean it up – that’s valuable time I could be spending with my daughter doing something we’ll both enjoy a lot more. So we’ll hit up a restaurant together on our way home. We’re not going to white tablecloth places, but I prefer supporting independently-owned businesses in my community, including restaurants – many of which are highly rated. I enjoy good quality, healthy, creative, flavorful dishes. So does my daughter. But just because I have a child in tow, I ought to be limiting ourselves to fast food or Peter Piper Pizza? Sorry, no.

    If it’s a restaurant we haven’t been to, I’ll call ahead to inquire whether it would be appropriate to dine with a toddler in tow. We go earlier in the evening, well before the dinner rush. When asked for our seating preferences, I’ll respond with “away from any important business meetings or romantic dates,” which is typically met with appreciative laughter. I bring plenty of quiet, time-consuming activities like books, coloring stuff, those bendy wax strings, and shoelace sewing cards (which I’ll happily give away to other parents if their kids start getting antsy). I’ve never changed my kid on the goddamn table; that is disgusting. I’ve never demanded RIGHTS FOR BABIES or any of that nonsense. I tip generously, in cash, every time. Dining out is not rocket science.

    95% of the time, my daughter is well-behaved, enthusiastic, and is generally awesome – my guess is because I’ve taken her out as frequently as I have, and she knows the drill. The other 5% of the time, she might get a little squirmy; she’s still two, after all – but worst case scenario I simply ask for a to-go box, pay the bill, and leave.

    • rrlo

      Totally agree with what you say. As a reasonable adult I am 100% convinced in my ability to navigate a mundane social situation like toddler in a restaurant. It isn’t rocket science. Some allowances need to be made by everyone to live in society – that includes putting up for few minutes with a fussy child in a family restaurants or walking behind a slow senior at the mall.

    • Greta Young

      Oh if she gets fussy, HAIL NO. We are out of there.

    • rrlo

      Oh yeah. As a parent the last thing I want to do is dine with my fussy child.

      ETA: I am referring to people dealing with the time it takes for either fussy child to calm down or time it takes to make a proper exit.

    • LiLi

      If all diners with kids were like you then there wouldn’t be a problem. It’s the ones who believe their kids is a special snowflake that ruin it for everyone. The ones who go “well I paid for my meal, so it give me the right to make other diners miserable”. Even in the Alinea case, the Chef stated it was not the 1st time a young child, or even a baby had been in the restaurant, but it was the 1st time one had made dining a miserable experience for everyone there.

      You seem to recognize that if your kid gets out of hand its time to ask for a to-go box and skeedaddle out of politeness for other diners. That should hold true no matter how classy the joint is.

    • http://nessyhart.wordpress.com/ pixie

      You horrible, horrible person! #howdareyou
      Just kidding! ;)

      This is how to go to a restaurant with a small child. I think Theresa is referring to parents who let their kid run around screaming, throwing a tantrum, and getting in other peoples’ way during dinner rushes. Potentially posing a danger to themselves and the waitstaff (toddlers are tripping hazards).
      You phone ahead of time, go early, ask to be seated away from people who might not want to be disturbed, bring things to distract her, and leave when she gets a bit fussy. I don’t see any problems with that!

    • C.J.

      You are a obviously a respectful person. I don’t think this post is aimed a parents like you that are respectful of other people and mindful of what your child can handle.

    • Momma425

      THANK YOU!

      I took my child with me when I went out to eat all the time. Still do.

      I did my very best to plan ahead and make sure she had her nap, wasn’t overly hungry, brought small books/toys for her to play with at our table, and if she was severely fussy I wouldn’t go.

      For the most part, planning ahead worked out and she behaved great.

      Sometimes, it did not, and in those cases, we got to-go boxes for our food and left as quickly as we could get the bill and pay it. While apologizing to those at tables around us.

    • Greta Young

      Yeah I’ll be damned if my kid is going to prevent me (or anyone else) from enjoying a nice meal out once in a while. But I’m a single parent, so the reality of the situation is my daughter accompanies me to many of the things I do in my leisure time. I’d go batshitcrazy if I only ate at “family” restaurants. But if I get invited out on a date, you can bet 1000000000% my daughter will NOT be included. :-)

    • Rachel Sea

      I don’t think normal, reasonable people are ever bothered by parents like you, it’s the ones whose kids are left to scream their damn heads off, or run around putting their booger fingers into everything including the kitchen, or draw on the walls with their complimentary crayons. Those parents make people brace themselves, and cringe whenever a toddler is sat anywhere near them in a restaurant.

      I’m perfectly content to share a dining experience with children, as long as they behave like age-appropriately polite humans, not ill-mannered chimpanzees.

    • K.

      I don’t think you sound crazy. I take my toddler out to eat all the time.
      You just want to make sure that the place is welcoming to young children and that you know to leave if your toddler is melting down.

      You don’t seem like the type to allow your kid to sit there and scream.

    • AE Vorro

      Your approach seems reasonable and well-thought out. I’m kid-free, but don’t come down the side of folks who think kids shouldn’t be in any restaurants, period. There should be wiggle room. Kids need to learn how to conduct themselves in public (with the help of good parents, like yourself). I think the problem is that minority of parents whose kids aren’t reasonably behaved for the venue and don’t take appropriate steps to control the situation (such as leaving when a meltdown occurs, etc.).

    • journalgal2

      Oh no, we take ours to dinner regularly and have since she was an infant. But on the (thankfully rare) occasion she acts up, we fix it or we’re outta there. You sound awesome.

    • Lackadaisical

      That is absolutely fine and not at all disruptive for other patrons. Kids eating in restaurants is a good thing as long as the parents do it responsibly. We also go early so we are out before the evening diners and if you pay and go if the toddler is inconsolable then you are obviously being considerate towards other diners (and your tired toddler having a bad day). That is nothing like the parents the article describes.

      Not only are you not a problem for other customers but by taking your daughter out and not letting her be disruptive when you do then I personally think your daughter is far less likely to be obnoxious in restaurants and as a guest at other peoples homes when she is an older child. She will know just how to behave well. I have even been stunned by bad manners of friends at university who obviously were never taken to restaurants as kids or expected to behave at when eating with people not of immediate their family. It was the bad attitude to the hard working waiting staff that I found hardest to cope with.

  • SA

    If we are dining somewhere we haven’t dined before, we call ahead and ask if they have high chairs. If they do, we will eat there because obviously kids have done so before; if they don’t we don’t ask any further because even if they let us bring our toddler, we aren’t doing it without a highchair.

    I don’t limit our restaurants because we have a child. She behaves about 95% of the time, but that other 5%, she is jerked up and escorted out by one parent and the other parent pays and boxes up the food (or we take turns scarfing down our food depending on how far into the meal we’ve gotten). We also won’t take her out if for whatever reason she is extra whiny/fussy/psychotic that day. And she ALWAYS remains in a high chair, letting children run around a restaurant is both rude and dangerous.

    I would never ever be offended by a ‘no children allowed’ policy and would probably dine at such an establishment if given the opportunity; but I also fail to see how people can be offended by simply the mere presence of a child.

  • C.J.

    I think little ones that enjoy eating out are cute when they sit there and try to act all grown up. I also think it is cruel to bring a child that doesn’t enjoy eating out and let them be miserable. If they are that unhappy take them home, it is selfish to make them stay. It is also irresponsible and can be dangerous to bring them places and let them run around and act up and not correct them. It also isn’t very respectful to others. I hate the attitude that everyone should just shut up and deal and if they don’t want to hear children they should just stay home. I hate the attitude that we were all children once and should be more understanding, when I was a kid we were never allowed to act up when we were out. Going out was a rare treat and we knew if we acted up we would be leaving and would not get to go back for a very long time. I have never been out and been bothered by a crying baby. Usually when they are that little you just give them a feeding or change their bum and the problem is fixed. It is the toddlers and preschoolers that are more likely to be disruptive. I don’t think all or even most parents let their kids act up when they are out. We just always remember the ones that do.

  • Blahblah

    I like Olive Garden. I really like breadsticks. :( I will also go to Fazoli’s and totally sit for too long eating free breadsticks. That way I can get a small salad and be full! I am a terrible person.

    That being said, I do get annoyed when I’m at a place that isn’t appropriate for babies without my baby, and someone dragged theirs in and the kid is obviously miserable and is therefore making everyone else miserable.

    There are places where kids just don’t belong. And that’s okay! But don’t bring your kid there. There are places where kids DO go, and you are free to bring your kid there and if anyone side eyes you, I’ll fight them for you.

  • K.

    For the love of.
    Here are the rules:

    1. CAN I BRING MY CHILD?

    a. WAS YOUR CHILD INVITED (as in, listed, by name, on the invitation and/or explicitly requested in person by the host)?
    - Yes–Sure.
    - No–Get a sitter.
    - There was no invitation–see b, below:

    b. IS IT CUSTOMARY TO BRING CHILDREN TO WHEREVER YOU ARE GOING? CAN PEOPLE HAVE A REASONABLE EXPECTATION TO SEE YOUNG CHILDREN IN THAT LOCATION?
    - YES–…Are you SURE the answer is “yes”? See c, below
    - NO–No, you cannot bring your child.
    - I DUNNO–Ask.

    c. IF YOU ANSWERED ‘YES’ TO THE PREVIOUS QUESTION, ASK YOURSELF: IS IT LIKELY THAT MY CHILD/CHILDREN WILL BE THE ONLY NON-ADULTS THERE?
    - YES–Yeahhhh, then no. Sorry.

    2. DO I HAVE TO LEAVE IF MY CHILD STARTS MISBEHAVING?

    a. IF YOU ARE INDOORS, ARE YOU IN THE PRESENCE OF SOMEONE DRESSED UP AS SOME KIND OF MASCOT and/or IS THERE SOMEONE IN UNIFORM OFFERING TO ALLOW YOUR KID TO PET SOME EXOTIC ANIMAL OR INSECT?
    - YES–No, you don’t need to leave.
    - NO–Fix it immediately or get the hell outta there. No one, including those who eat at Burger King, should have to listen to your kid scream.

    Those are the rules. I decree them.

    • etbmm

      Are you a lawyer or law student? If not, you may want to consider a career switch!

    • K.

      Oh dear lord no! Both my parents, though, are lawyers, so there was a lot of socratic questioning at the dinner table.

      …Hence the aversion!

    • SA

      I do have to disagree just a bit with #1. I think it is always fine to ask if you are truly unsure – however, I would put it more like “Are children invited?” or “Is this event adults-only?” instead of specifically asking about your child. I’d rather people ask than assume, invites have become so casual these days sometimes it is hard to tell especially with a Facebook invite to a Christmas party or something vague.

    • K.

      Well, rules lists are blunt instruments, so in general, I kind of stand by that adage that the kid has to be explicitly invited.

      Here’s why: It’s dicey otherwise.

      For a formal event (such as weddings), the kid really has to be listed somehow on the invitation/envelope–either as addressed to “Mr & Mrs. Smith; Johnny Smith” or “The Smith Family.”

      If it’s something like a Christmas party and the invite is emailed or through FB or a “hey, we’re doing xyz this Saturday–come join us!”, it’s a little more complicated, and it really depends most on how well you know the hosts.

      First of all, understand that not many people want to actually say, “We don’t want your kids” when inviting others to a party, so it’s rare that you’ll get an invite with those explicit instructions.

      In the “gray area” when your kids aren’t called out specifically either way, according to traditional etiquette, you have to be careful about asking for clarification on that because the asking itself puts pressure on the host–they may feel uncomfortable about having to say no or feel pressured to say yes, even though they don’t want to. So etiquette cautions to be to be very wise about the risk of putting your host in an awkward position–if it’s a close friend or family member, fine, but otherwise, think carefully about asking, even if your heart’s in the right place and you are a laid back person because THEY might feel awkward about having to tell you ‘no’–no one likes to be that person, and some people might feel compelled to have to explain they financially can’t accommodate extra guests or their dog is aggressive towards kids or they just redid the living room in white suede or they’re planning on introducing you to their swingers’ club or–who knows?

      Another way of thinking of it is to replace your children with anyone else–ie, Would you feel it would be okay to call your host about bringing say, your new boyfriend or that houseguest who will coincidentally be staying with your family that night? To most people, the nature of the imposition becomes much clearer when put in those terms, so it’s important to remember that as far as the host is concerned, it’s really no less of an imposition just because the people you’re asking about are your children.

      If you don’t know the host very well, then with a lot of events, you can reasonably ferret out the likelihood of kids being invited based on things like when and where the event is being held, the hosts’ lifestyle, the relationship you have with hosts and so on. So if it’s being held during nighttime hours (like 7-11p), and/or it’s being hosted by a couple who don’t themselves have children or only have adult children, and/or you know the host through work and/or it’s at a location other than a private home (and not like, a public park), the likelihood goes up it’s going to be adults only. If it says it’s an afternoon potluck at someone’s house that you know from bridge club and that person has three young children, the likelihood goes up that kids will be there. And, to be safe, I would only call to ask if my bets were hedging towards the latter.

      This is also why I love people who put things on the invite that explicitly say, “Bring the kids!” or “We’ll have a bouncy castle!” or something to that effect that makes it clear :)

    • journalgal2

      Love the rules. So easy. I find that some people these days aren’t so specific with the wedding invites so it makes it a bit tricky, but all you have to do is ask. Last year my cousin got married and the invite was addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Journalgal2. No mention of my three year old, but knowing her I knew that wasn’t deliberate. Called her up, asked if kids were welcome at the wedding and made it very clear to her that it was 100% OK if they weren’t! It’s her wedding! She was shocked I would ask and said of course, bring her! She came to the ceremony, dressed adorably and behaving beautifully. Then spent the evening with a sitter while her dad and I got our party on ;).

  • Effervescent Pheasant

    I have four kiddos and I don’t care how much I spend at a place, I don’t want to hear screaming kids either. We do NOT take our 18 month old twins anywhere right now because of that. They scream. I know they scream and I know that we are the only people who can put up with them. They fuss and can’t sit still longer then 10 minutes. If we go out, we go it alone and hire a sitter, make the teenager stay home with them of beg grandma. No one else thinks my kids are as cute as we do and we know it.
    The worst has to be when we have enough to go out and eat (Yeh, probably white castle) and can afford a movie night too and someone brings a baby into an adult movie… I don’t think I’ll ever understand that one. 6 month old taken to see a 9pm showing of Kick Ass 2 – REALLY???

    • C.J.

      I never understood why people bring little ones adult movies. I find adult movies to be really loud. I would feel like I had to cover their ears the the whole time to protect their eardrums.

    • S

      The worst was the parent that brought their 6 year old to the Valerie Plame documentary/movie. Yes, it was the middle of the day, but why or why do you think your 6 year old would get anything out of this movie. And for the love of GOD make her stop staring at us and sitting sideways so she can kick my husband’s chair!

    • AE Vorro

      WHAT?!!!!

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Oh my God, yes! We went to a concert—nothing inappropriate, but certainly nothing kids would be interested in, and it was about $60 a ticket for where we sat. So we hired a babysitter and did NOT bring our kids (who would have been bored to tears and talking the whole time). SO we get to the lovely concert and sit, and who should sit behind us, but three small children…one who talked more throughout it than my own children would have, and SERIOUSLY loudly. And one who kicked my chair. And one who sang loudly off key a good bit of the time. I had to whip out my teacher look a few times and one time, when she was kicking the shit out of my chair, I had to stop her foot with my hand. The parents stopped the kids one time the whole concert; the rest they didn’t notice. I was sooooo beyond pissed, as was everyone I was with who was near them. It was a waste of all our money, because we could barely hear.

    • C.J.

      That’s just rude. I won’t let my kids kick the back of my seat (it’s happened a couple times in the van) never mind someone else’s. I also wouldn’t waste money to bring kids to a concert if they aren’t old enough to sit through it quietly. I don’t want to listen to them talk through a concert so I’m sure no one else does.

    • Justme

      The other night at Chilis there was a little guy at the table next to us letting out shrieks every so often. They were shrill and annoying, but not constant and hey, it was Chili’s at 5:00 so at least the parents made a good choice in that regard. Anyways…any time the kid shrieked, my daughter (3 years) threw her head back and cried out “Ugh! He is hurting my ears!”

  • Another Chick

    I lurk every once in a while and finally wanted to comment say:

    Legs have been shaved past the knee, people.

    I AM SO GLAD THIS IS NOT JUST ME. I’ve always wondered if I was just extremely lazy or what. Whew. Thank goodness there are other women out there who just don’t give a damn.

  • Liz

    I really only have a problem with screaming children if the parents do absolutely nothing to quiet them. If your kid is being a little shit, take him/her out of the restaurant. Don’t ignore the kid and go about your dinner like you’re the only person trying to enjoy a meal.

  • Jezebeelzebub

    I agree with the sentiments expressed in this article.

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  • Stacy Shain

    um I love the Olive Garden.I am not poor. you sound self entitled by putting down a place where people love to go. The breadsticks are amazing………..

    • keetakat

      …and the never ending salad bowl… Mmmmmmmmmaaargghhh….

  • keetakat

    My issue isn’t with children AT ALL. It’s with parents. I don’t care if people bring their children to restaurants, but if they are unhappy or if you see that their behavior is really not appropriate for the atmosphere, then the parents should take that opportunity to teach the children (and themselves) about manners and how important they are in social situations. If that means you leave the restaurant mid-meal, then that’s a lesson for both parents and children.

    Frankly, we take our children everywhere with us… And guess what, I like it that way. They aren’t cigarettes or pets, they are as much a part of my life as my husband and I don’t feel like I have to “get away” from them. That being said, there has been a strict set of guidelines for table manners that apply at home as well as in restaurants and when they were babies, we took them to places that were child friendly rather than places that were clearly not designed to cater to kids. Now that they’re older, we go to nicer places and they know what the expectations are.

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  • sandra richter

    I have two kids, both (now) well behaved in restaurants, and I agree with every one of Theresa’s statements. No kids in restaurants, much less ones making kid noises, once you clear a certain date-night standard of restaurant. Basically, if the place does not hand out color-me place mats and crayons, don’t take your kids there.

  • Ittakesahumantoraiseahuman

    I worked in restaurants for several years, kids need to be groomed to have dining manners, if the parents dont have manners theres slim hope for children (if no one you know wants to go out to eat with you its a good sign you shoulf reevaluate your restaurant behavior) I once was summoned while trying to ring in my guests’ food because a woman at a nearby table who was letting her toddler scream wanted me to immediately fetch her childs sippy cup she repetitively let him throw from the table with no regard for the human beings who needed to walk past his pitching practice. When i looked at her in a confused manner she then explained to me that she had to get it the last time so it was my turn. I can only hope this child has since thrown it at her head caused her to forget restaurants exist.

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