By now you’ve heard of the restaurant owner in Maine who yelled at some toddler who allegedly screamed for 40 minutes at a table.
I don’t want to talk about that. It’s boring. We have no idea what happened. As messed up as it is to squeal at a stranger’s baby (and that lady seemed pretty damn unhinged), it’s pretty messed up to let your kid cry for that long in a restaurant (if that’s even what happened).
What I want to talk about is the “debate” that surfaces between people with and without kids whenever an event like this occurs. In case you’ve been living in a yurt on a New Mexican bluff, the two sides go like this:
- Babies should not be allowed in nice restaurants because they’re assholes.
- Babies should be allowed in all restaurants because THEY HAVE RIGHTS even though they’re assholes.
I added the last part.
Anyway I find this debate ridiculous. Well, no. Not really. What I find ridiculous is that the whole thing could be cleared up instantly if everybody could just stop being dicks.
Let’s start with the parents.
Hey parents, How to not be a dick in a restaurant with your baby, toddler, or kids:
- Remember above all else that nobody likes your kids as much as you do. To you they are special snowflakes. To you they are the expression of your divine purpose. To everybody else they are tiny sticky creatures with unimpressive palates, limited conversational skills and a baffling inability to sit the fuck down.
- If you have a toddler and want to eat out, maybe don’t go to the tiny hipster joint full of humans too artistically profound to have children. They hate you, your uterus and the mammal it housed. They don’t think your kid is cute. They wish you’d stop ruining the fucking planet. Now pass the boutique beer.
- Perhaps also avoid the white-linens-only church-vibe restaurant without a dish below $50. Why? Because toddlers are fucking annoying and nobody wants to be annoyed in a $50-per-plate restaurant.
- I get it. You want to still go to these places. And YOU CAN. On Friday, when grandma has Johnny for the evening. I know you think you deserve all the rights and privileges of those without children. I know. I get it. But check it out: One of the rights of people without offspring is the ability to sit in a restaurant and enjoy themselves. Sure they have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives, but THEY HAVE ENJOYABLE DINING EXPERIENCES. Let’s give them that. It’s the least we can do as superior human beings.
- Or go to a loud, big, raucous family joint. People that hate children don’t go there. Or if they do, it’s their problem.
- But don’t let your toddler cry there either. That’s still a dick move. I have kids and I still don’t want to hear yours. I barely want to hear mine.
- So if your toddler cries or screams for more than a few minutes, TAKE HER OUT OF THE RESTAURANT. This is not rocket science.
- If you leave a big mess on the floor, pick it up or leave a giant fucking tip. And I mean a BIG TIP. I’m not going to pick up rice kernels on my hands and knees for 20 minutes after my baby (because I used to work in a restaurant and happen to know bussers have sweeping tools for that sort of job), but I sure as hell am going to leave at least a 25% tip. Because I try not to be a dick.
- Back on topic: Don’t let your kid run around. Don’t let your kid scale the booths. Don’t let your kid throw food. Don’t let your kid scream. Don’t let your kid bang things on other things. If a grown human did these things they would be escorted out of the place and instructed to stop smoking meth.
- So, as a general rule, do not let your child act like a tweaker.
These are not hard rules. These are easy rules. As parents I think we should be aware of the fact that we are bringing highly annoying humans into a place where adults are attempting to not be annoyed. Unless it’s a family restaurant.
Hey world: DO NOT GO TO A FAMILY RESTAURANT AND EXPECT AN ABSENCE OF FAMILIES.
There’s no boutique beer here, asshole. Only slick menus and chicken strips so leave me alone.
Really it isn’t IF my toddler is going to be annoying, it’s HOW annoying my toddler is going to be. And sometimes that level is so high I just pack our food up and eat in the car while regretting every decision I’ve made in the past 10 years and wondering if anybody would notice if I moved to a yurt in New Mexico.
But then I remember that people without kids have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives. Whew what a relief.*
DODGED THAT BULLET.
On the other hand, toddlers need to learn to how to behave in restaurants so they don’t grow up to be the dude I sat next to a few weeks ago who was doing things with his sweet & sour pork and vocal cords that made me wonder if perhaps somebody should intervene.
So hey, maybe restaurant-goers sans kids can work with us here a bit too, and show a shred of compassion as we dig in our purses, pockets and souls looking for something to entertain this highly annoying small human with a limited palate so we can get some fucking nourishment.
(Trust me we aren’t expecting to enjoy ourselves. Going to a restaurant with a toddler is about as enjoyable as trying to corner a feral cat while the world looks on, judging.)
Cut me a bit of slack. Five minutes. Maybe 10. TEN AT THE MOST (not of crying. crying gets 12 seconds.). And if it doesn’t get better, I promise I’ll take my special snowflake outside to melt on the sidewalk so you can eat in peace.
Let’s just try not to be dicks. All of us.
Even in restaurants.
Kumbaya. Bon appétit. Feral cats. Whatever.
*DEAR INTERNET: I do not actually think people who don’t have kids lead meaningless lives. I am making fun of that mentality. There are numerous cues in the writing indicating that. If you can’t find them, please ask somebody who knows how to read to help you.