A few weeks ago, my wife and I made the colosal mistake of thinking we would be able to enjoy dining out with our two children. (4 year old and 2 1/2 year old) NOT!
A few days ago, I came across this article by one of my favorite columnists and authors, Dave Barry. I wish I'd read it beforehand.
Babies and restaurants are the Chernobyl of parenting
BY DAVE BARRY
If you're a new parent, there will come a time when either you or your spouse will say these words:
''Let's take the baby to a restaurant!''
Now, to a normal, sane person, this statement is absurd. It's like saying: ''Let's take a moose to the opera!''
But neither you nor your spouse will see anything inappropriate about the idea of taking your baby to a restaurant. This is because, as new parents, you are experiencing a magical period of wonder, joy and possibility that has made you really stupid. You are not alone: All new parents undergo a sharp drop in intelligence. It's nature's way of enabling them to form an emotional bond with a tiny human who relates with other humans exclusively by spitting up on them. Even very smart parents are affected, as we see from these two quotations:
Albert Einstein Shortly Before The Birth Of His Son: ''To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and the most radiant beauty, which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their most primitive forms -- this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of true religiousness.''
Albert Einstein Shortly After The Birth Of His Son: ''Daddy's gonna EAT THESE WIDDLE TOES!''
After a month or so of bonding with their baby, the typical parents have the combined IQ of a charcoal briquette. This is when they decide it's OK to take the baby to a restaurant. I know what I'm talking about: My wife and I have a baby daughter, and we have repeatedly taken her to restaurants, even though by now experience should have taught us that it would be far more pleasant and relaxing for us to stay home and play tic-tac-toe on our foreheads with a soldering iron.
But we cannot help ourselves, and neither can you, if you're a new parent. That's why today I'm presenting these Helpful Tips For Dining Out With A Baby:
1. THE INSTANT YOU GET TO THE RESTAURANT, ASK FOR THE CHECK. You want to be able to pay and get out of there as quickly as possible when your baby screams, or decides -- as babies instinctively do, in restaurants -- to grunt out an impossibly large output, such that you experience a dreaded condition known to diaper scientists as Projectile Huggies Leakage (PHL). So it's best to pay your bill as you enter the restaurant, adding a little extra (say, $800) to compensate for the fact that after you're finished, your table may have to be burned. Some parents never actually enter the restaurant: They simply drive up to the front door, hurl money out the car window, then speed off, their baby wailing like an ambulance siren in the night.
2. REQUEST A TABLE IN A LOCATION THAT WILL NOT DISTURB OTHER DINERS. For example, if you want to eat at an elegant restaurant in New York City, you should try to get a table on the roof. Or, better still, at a Bob's Big Boy in Cleveland.
3. SELECT AN APPROPRIATE CUISINE. Of the wide variety of cuisines available today -- Italian, French, Chinese, Tiny Portions Of Meat With Some Kind Of Inedible Decorative Stuff Dribbled On The Plate In A Pattern As If It Were An Art Project Instead Of A Meal -- I would say that the best kind of cuisine, for the parent of a small baby, is a cuisine that you can eat with one hand. You, of course, need the other hand to keep putting things into your baby's mouth, so your baby can spit them out (a baby is not happy unless it is emitting something from somewhere). In fact, you may need both hands for this activity, so you might want to order an entree that you can eat with no hands, sporadically lunging your face down to your plate and snorking up food Labrador-retriever style. You will not have time to taste anything. Restaurant employees know this, and sometimes, for fun, they serve prank entrees to new parents, to see if they'll notice. A Boston restaurant recently got a new father, distracted by a small baby, to eat a whisk broom covered with melted cheese.
At least he ate something. Sometimes I spend the entire meal carrying my daughter around the restaurant, crossing paths with other nomadic parents carrying THEIR children around, each of us leaving a trail of drool. Our big night out! It may not sound like fun to you, but we parents of newborns are able to enjoy it because of our philosophy of life, which can be summed up by the immortal words penned by William Shakespeare shortly after the birth of his first child: ''Woogum woogum WOOGUM WOOGUM WOOGUM!''
...babies anywhere outside the home have the potential to be an enormous burden to others...keep them penned in til they're old enough for self-control and big folks behavior...say 21?
...majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd...
our anglo-saxon cultures are very child unfriendly when it comes to eating out...not like in Spain, for instance.
just as i don't like want to be dining with loud mouthed, swearing fuckwit adults i'm not so keen on kids with sticky faces running around screaming while i eat, but i'm fine with well behaved kids of any age, just as i am with well behaved adults.
Sur votre bicyclette, mate.
Rarely had any problems dining out in Thailand with my infant son. The staff would always help take care of him and he only cried a few times resulting in having to be held or carried.
We only been to a restaurant in Australia once since arriving not because of my son but because it is too expensive to consider wasting money on.
No vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end.
The younger you get your kids accompanying you to restaurants, the better they will become at staying in their chairs/behaving themselves. Thailand's great for eating out with kids. My daughter (22 months) loves having breakfast at TookLaeDee (Foodland), or lunch at MK (she's a bit freaked out by the dancing but she gets over it), or coming with us to our local Issan/Vietnamese eaterie. My boy (5) is going through an "only-eat-rice" phase so he's happy with Khao Niow, or satay or sausage on a stick. The Thai attitude to kids in restaurants (actively welcoming it and understanding kids) was an eye opener, coming from London where having children was seen by many of the city's inhabitants as being on a par with committing mass murder or infecting people with terminal disease.
Babies are a piece of piss compared to toddlers
^^...I would imagine so. I'm paying my money to enjoy my meal in whatever modicum of serenity the restaurant may offer. I don't care how welcoming the staff is: you've made a decision to inflict your child's behavior on every other diner in the room.
I agree completely with Jon: if the child is well-behaved and understands how to eat with big folks, no problem. If the child, through no fault of its own, is transported to a public area and communicates any displeasure by wailing....I look at the parents and wonder what they were thinking. I've noticed how certain among the reproducing classes assume that they and their offspring should always be catered to...silently encouraging other paying customers to pay up and leave if they don't like the situation.
Fine. I've adapted my behavior: I won't eat in restaurants that attract nursing mothers...or parents with ill-behaved children. It's a solution that works for me...
"Fear and Guilt are your only enemies. Love and Awareness are your true friends" -
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Never had a problem with my kids once they got to be about 5. Nice manners and quiet. Thats the way to go.
Too long in Exile, too long not singing my song.
Too long like a rolling stone, Too long in exile
Too long in Exile, baby you just arent my friend.
Too long in Exile my friend, Baby you can never go home again.
We've been taking our boy to restaurants since he was about 2 months old. Never had much bother.
Either he's very atypical or the author's exag(g?)erating for comic effect.
When the great lord passes the wise peasant bows deeply and silently farts
...I should clarify (yet again for the slow readers): I'm not attacking everyone's absolutely adorable spawn, but the decisions made by parents to drag them to inappropriate venues (i.e., where I happen to be).
In my community, children are well-behaved or not present and never simply tolerated...
...If your community is different, you may want to consider moving...
Hear, hear, TC! I've often wondered why someone doesn't initiate "No Children" areas somewhat along the lines of the smoking ban; secondhand smoke is nothing compared to the horrors of secondhand brats in public venues.