Table Manners

One of the things I’m most looking forward to as the girls get  older is being able to go to a restaurant without becoming that table. You know the one. Where the kids are screaming and fighting and throwing food and spilling things and you wonder why the parents aren’t controlling their kids better and you hope they’re going to tip their abused waitress a whole lot.  We’re that table.

For the most part we don’t go out to eat. On the rare occasions that we do, we choose “family friendly” establishments.  They can easily be identified by readily available high chairs, separate kiddie menus often with crayons, cups with lids and straws, and plastic dishes.  When we were traveling in Hawaii, we made a poor restaurant choice and I’m still recovering from it.

In my defense, since I chose the restaurant, I looked in the restaurant guide in our hotel room. It said it was a family friendly, Italian restaurant with a price conscious menu.  It was also on the hotel property and an easy walk. It said family friendly right in the description.  Apparently, they weren’t talking about our family.

That day we went to the Honolulu zoo and the aquarium and spent a couple hours in our room resting before dinner. (That means we turned on the television for the kids.)

We got to the restaurant. We should have turned around immediately. It was quiet in the restaurant. People were sipping wine and having quiet, adult conversations. There were only a couple of children and they were eight to ten and were dressed nicely and eating using utensils.  We were in shorts, T-shirts, and flip flops.  But they greeted us warmly and led us to a table, grabbed a high chair, and three colorful kiddie menus. Plus, we were hungry. So we stayed.

Apparently, the girls were exceptionally tired (or just bent on embarrassing their parents).  They fought and bickered. They stuck their hands in their glasses. They whined and complained.  Samantha and Ella started an actual food fight. Never have I seen them throw food at each other.  We scolded and yelled in hushed tones.

Then there was Penelope.  She was screaming. A high pitched excited scream.  Which I shushed. As did some cranky old person half-way across the restaurant.  Thanks for that cranky old person. It really helped.

By the time dinner was done one couple had moved tables, one couple, on seeing us,  elected to not eat in the restaurant that night, and I’m pretty sure they needed to just cut out the carpet under our table. We didn’t even let the girls get the sundaes that came with their kiddie meals.

It was horrible.  And embarrassing. And infuriating.  But I just remembered my planned mantra for the plane rides. I’m never going to see these people ever again.

Are your kids well-behaved in restaurants? Any tips to get mine to behave?

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14 Responses to “Table Manners”

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  1. Moomser
    Twitter: moomser

    First off… Poor you! Bad restaurant experiences are the worst, cause they ruin your meal and you end up paying through the nose to ease your guilt!
    My Boy is relatively well behaved, he just has a calm personality, my Girl has ants in her pants and is fine only as long as she’s hungry and focused on eating. That said, I go into restaurants armed like I’m going on a plane: books, toy cars and whatever else they’re into at the moment. Also, I’m the mom who whips out the iPhone or iPad when they’re done eating and out of patience, so I can finish my meal in peace. I’m pretty sure that even the sanctimonious moms who think one should NEVER let the kids use electronic gadgets are grateful not to’ have their restaurant experience marred by my children. Incidentally, Italy has NOT caught on to the idea of “kid friendly” restaurant or otherwise!
    Moomser´s last post ..Ten things I want to teach my children RIGHT NOW

    • Jessica Anne says:

      I have to remember to bring stuff with me. I always forget, but it makes sense. And the iPad will now be packed too. Good tips, thanks!

  2. Kristin @ Peace, Love and Muesli
    Twitter: kristinglas

    Yeah, that. Drinking helps.
    Sometimes it’s tolerable, sometimes not so much. My feeling is that any restaurant that does not offer cups with lids and crayons is asking for trouble.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    It’s tough! We started taking our DS out from a very young age, so he’s pretty accustomed to restaurant dining… although some days are usually more difficult than others, mostly when he’s bored or tired. My DH was always uneasy before we had a child about being near to a family at a table for fear that it would be ‘that table’ which I think translated into some pretty strict ground rules with DS early on…. that being said, I think everyone who has ever taken kids to a restaurant has been ‘that table’ at one time or another… it’s frustrating as a parent, because you know your kids aren’t usually like that…. hang in there.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Thanks for the words of support! I think they were all really tired, but it was still really frustrating. We need to be stricter about table manners. I’m starting at home, hopefully it will translate.

  4. Amanda says:

    Hmm, I think I’ve had this same restaurant experience! It seems like age 1 – 2 1/2 is a tough one for restaurants. My husband and I have pretty much given up on taking out all of the kids for now. (I have three. My oldest is 4 1/2 and my youngest just turned one.)

    Gosh, this post really reminds me of this one Italian restaurant we took all three girls to in Portland, OR several months ago. We were traveling. It said it was family friendly. We decided to give it a try. (We were still so naive back then.) The youngest was a newborn – she cried during most of the meal. My middle daughter (who was almost 2) was dressing herself in her pasta. My oldest (who was usually better behaved than this) was pouring her glass of water all over the table … you know, for fun of it. Fortunately there were only two other couples in the restaurant and one man had the good nature to smile and chuckle at my children’s antics. He even came over and said some nice things to us afterwards. Glad there wasn’t a cranky old lady. They ruin everyone’s fun.

    • Jessica Anne says:

      It is a really hard age. Sounds like we had similar experiences. I wanted to find the cranky person and point out shushing across an entire restaurant was rude too.

  5. Shell says:

    We go… but often distract the kids with games on our phones!

  6. The Drama Mama
    Twitter: poopscoopinmama

    Next time I go out to eat, I’ll call you so you can come too. I bet Jellybean will put all your kids to shame with her {lack of} table manners. Scooby? Well, he just likes to bang his fork on the table, and the seat or the booth, wander around the restaurant, help himself to food {only at a buffet fortunately}, and pretty much rotate between sitting with me and Daddy. I’m not even going to start with Jellybean’s antics and she is 11!!!

    Is it wrong that I chuckled a little? You are too funny.
    The Drama Mama´s last post ..Crazy Days of Summer weekly photo challenge

    • Jessica Anne says:

      Chuckling is perfectly acceptable. Shushing, not so much. I think our kids would have a great time outdoing each other in a restaurant. I wonder if they would embarrass each other into good behavior?

  7. Melisa - Mommy This and That
    Twitter: mommythisnthat

    My son is two and the iPad I gave my husband for Christmas has been taken over by him…best 500$ I’ve spent, as it works wonders on car trips and at restaurants! Wish they made something for a 3 month old that worked as well. Instead she seems to be starving as soon as my food comes. And the only other advice I if they are tired, they won’t cooperate no matter what you give them!
    Melisa – Mommy This and That´s last post ..Hot- Hot- Hot- A Summer PSA

    • Jessica Anne says:

      That is very true, tired does not make for cooperative children. I have to remember to bring out iPad. I have this idea in my head of no toys at the table, but I need to get over that when we’re out. I think the restaurant patrons will thank me.