By Lisa Traudt
When I was growing up, my parents were very strict about us being on our best behavior while dining at a restaurant. It was considered a treat to go out to eat, and if we didn's behave we were not allowed to join in this special treat. Behaving meant sitting in your seat at all times, using your inside voice, not fighting with your siblings, and not jumping up and down on the booth; disturbing the other “party” sitting at the table behind you. As a mother, I too followed this standard when bringing my children out to dine. If my children misbehaved, cried, or couldn's sit still, I would get up and leave my hot meal, and take my children outside the establishment. The other patrons are also paying with their hard earned money for a relaxing evening out to enjoy a nice meal and each other's company. They do not need to hear the rantings or witness the misbehavings of my children while relaxing and being served as opposed to cooking a meal at home.
Let me share my most recent experience. While in Florida with my teenage daughters visiting my mother we went out for dinner. We chose to dine outside on the patio of a chain-like restaurant. As we were eating, I noticed three young children around the age of 5 playing hopscotch right next to our table. I thought to myself “Where is their mother? Why is she not watching them? Why is this acceptable to her? Do the rules of dining with children change when you choose to eat outside? Was she not raised as I was?”
I did my best to ignore their lengthy game and enjoy my meal until I happen to notice out of my peripheral vision a rock flying toward our table – about to hit either my mother or daughter in the head. Without thinking – or perhaps my maternal instincts kicked in – I yelled as if I was an angry cheerleader with a megaphone, “Hey, watch it you almost hit us with a rock!! Where is your mother?!!” The kids ran back to their table and I see their mother drinking martinis.
“Aha,” I say to myself. She thinks the restaurant is a playground. She drinks and enjoys her evening while her children are six tables down throwing rocks. Good parenting skills (sarcasm). (On a side note: she is drinking and then driving home with her kids.) Of course, my kids are embarrassed by my outburst, yet the table behind me; two parents with four well-behaved children commend me for speaking up. They too were disturbed and about to say something themselves.
Parents, if you choose to take your children out to eat, please remember its ok to reprimand your children when they don's behave. We patrons appreciate it. That is considered “good parenting”.