Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Unhappy meal

There are certain places where babies are not welcome: the movie theater, nuclear power plants, some strip clubs, etc. However, they are not banished from most restaurants, much to the chagrin of baby-less patrons. I have heard complaints that babies have ruined dinner experiences for others by crying and screaming, throwing things, or not leaving enough money on the table to pay the bill. One of my friends told me a few months ago that he absolutely hated it when people brought babies into a restaurant. This was shortly before we were all about to go out to dinner with Kyle. My friend, suddenly realizing the company he was in, quickly added, "But your baby's fine, of course."

Yes, my friend is right. My baby is the exception. Everybody else's babies are the problem. Granted, all the other parents feel the same way about their kids... but, naturally, they're wrong. Our baby is the only angel in the bunch. That is, if you don't include our dinner out last week.

For some reason Jennifer and I were inspired to take Kyle to a fancy Mexican restaurant, meaning there were no 89-cent tacos or talking chihuahuas. When we arrived, the place was fairly empty, so we were able to get a table alone by a window. Jennifer sat at one end and I at the other, with Kyle in a child seat between our table and the next. Our son immediately started banging the table and reaching for the knives, and Jennifer and I scrambled to get everything out of his reach. Jennifer then started feeding him to keep him occupied, which worked well for about five minutes. At that point, the local factory must have shut down for the day, because suddenly the restaurant was flooded with people, and we were no longer surrounded by empty tables.

Now, a lot of restaurants in New York have a "know your neighbor" table policy, with seats so close to each other you're practically sitting on the person next to you. So when a young couple sat down next to us to have a quiet dinner together, Kyle was able be a part of their dining experience, too. Once they received their menus, our son reached around and grabbed them. Perhaps he wanted to recommend an appetizer or a good milk-based drink for them to try. We smiled and apologized, and gave them their menus back. But Kyle was not done. He went on to try to grab the couple's napkins, silverware and salt shaker, and that's when we figured he should swap seats with Jennifer.

The new location was not much better, especially once we were served. With our plates on the table, there was more for the little guy to try to grab, and less room for us to move things. He suddenly took an interest in guacamole and sour cream, and would get cranky when his mean and ruthless parents would deny him the things he cherished. To avoid an incident or those dreaded angry stares from other patrons, Jennifer and I rushed through our meals so we could take Kyle home before he really started to wail. I think I had chicken, but it's all a blur. We got the bill, with its fancy Mexican prices, and headed out the door as Kyle started to let loose.

This doesn't always happen when Kyle eats out, but we have noticed he's become a bit more impatient with age. I suppose it will get worse before it gets better. Rumor has it that angry toddlers have been known to throw plates of food at other customers and set things on fire, and many parents end up getting pizza delivered every weekend night until their kids get old enough to behave in restaurants. I guess we'll wait and see if that happens. At least we live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids, and we see plenty of toddlers going out to eat. So maybe the patrons here will be more tolerant of Kyle as he becomes increasingly unruly. I just wish their children weren't so loud.

1 comment:

erica said...

Kent went through that grabby, unruly stage, and we thought for a while that we wouldn't be able to eat out again until he was 4. Luckily, he grew out of it in a few months, and now he eats and plays with toys and just gets squirmy when we've been someplace too long, but every kid is different-- I hope you guys are able to enjoy some family dinners out soon!