It’s really hard to go out to eat when you have small kids. They get the wiggles waiting for their food to come, make a mess and get whiny when their fancy mac and cheese doesn’t taste like the orange stuff they eat at home. So, what would be the harm if, say, you let your kid wander around the restaurant while you enjoy a few minutes of peace?
An anonymous dad wrote into Nicole Cliffe’s “Care and Feeding” parenting column on Slate.com asking if he was an a**hole for letting his 4-year-old “explore” while he and his wife ate.
“My son is a normal, active little boy and it’s hard for him to sit through a whole dinner, so we let him explore the restaurant a little,” he wrote. “I noticed our waitress giving him the hairy eyeball, so we asked him to stop running.” The dad went on to say that the child continued to hover around the server so she spoke “sharply” and told the kid to sit down, which offended the dad since she addressed the boy and not him or his wife directly. To retaliate, he tipped her 5 percent and spoke to the manager, who brushed it off.
The dad posted the incident on Facebook and was surprised by the judgmental responses from his friends, a sentiment echoed by Cliffe.
“Yeah, this is your fault,” she replied. “It’s hugely your fault.” The dad had mentioned in his letter that this was a medium-nice restaurant, but Cliffe stopped him right there. “Of course it’s hard for a 4-year-old to sit still, which is why people usually stick to fast-dining establishments while working on restaurant manners,” she said. “It’s why one parent usually responds to a fidgety kid who wants to 'explore' by taking him outside the restaurant, where he can get his wiggles out.” Cliffe also pointed out the safety issue of a child dodging trays of hot food. Lastly, she mentioned that “exploring” a restaurant is not a thing and the server intervened because he was failing to parent.
She finished by encouraging the dad to make it right and return to the restaurant with a better tip for the server and an apology for the manager and signed off by saying, “Mend your wicked ways.”
MEND YOUR WICKED WAYS.
I love her response so much.
Cliffe’s readers -- which includes servers who have lived through the same thing -- were pretty much united in the fact that this guy was 100 perecent wrong.
Other parents did not stick up for their fellow child wrangler. It is so dangerous for a kid to be running around hot food and sharp objects.
If the dad was seeking validation or sympathy, he will not find it on social media:
Cliffe followed up on her response because this letter, in particular, struck a nerve.
When you raise kids, it’s your job to teach them good manners and proper behavior. Yes, children shouldn’t be punished for their natural curiosity, but there’s an appropriate setting for that (and it isn’t in a busy restaurant). Teach your kids to stay in their seats and work on their coloring pages at an Applebee's and be prepared to hang outside if need be. Don't let your offspring treat the local gastropub like an obstacle course.