I was prepared to make a lot of changes and sacrifices when I entered motherhood, but one thing I wasn't about to give up was eating in nice restaurants. I refused to be limited to those establishments with super-sized options on the menu, and since their earliest days, my children have dined alongside us in a plethora of restaurants that have actual table cloths.
So I get all sorts of agitated when restaurants talk about banning kids, or people ask to be moved just because they see a sippy cup on the table. My kids are not always perfect, and yes, we've had to leave mid-meal more than once. For the most part, however, they know how to (and are made to/threatened to/bribed to) conduct themselves so that we and everyone else around us can have a nice meal. Some children, however, clearly can NOT, and I'm appalled by some of the things their parents let them do in restaurants, which really ruins it for the rest of us.
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In case there's any question, here are seven things children should NEVER be allowed to do in a restaurant.
Once the screaming starts, parents should be headed toward the nearest exit to try and calm the child. Waiting it out or negotiating is not an option when you're packed in a room with strangers trying to eat.
2. Have their diaper changed on a table
It happens ... and it shouldn't. NO exceptions.
3. Play electronics loudly
We are all for giving our kids an iPad, iPhone, or iAnything that will keep them occupied during a meal. BUT they must keep it on mute or the volume very low depending on the atmosphere of the restaurant.
4. Run around the place
If it's Chuck E. Cheese, that's one thing, but if it's a sit-down restaurant, then children should be doing just that -- sitting down. Anything else is not only rude but dangerous.
5. Throw food
Shouldn't have to add this one, but some parents really are clueless.
6. Make a huge mess
Okay, sometimes it just happens (without #5), but if it does, parents should make an effort to help clean it up and not just leave it for the staff. And whatever you do, do NOT let them use salt and pepper shakers and sugar packets as toys!
7. Interfere with other diners' meal in any way
Now, if the mere sight of children brings on indigestion, then I have no words for people like that. But if children are crawling over the backs of booths, kicking people's chairs, or in any other way creating a true distraction, they shouldn't be there.
What are the worst things you've seen children and their parents do in a restaurant?
Image via Julie Ryan Evans