It doesn’t matter who we are, when we are a parent, we are going to have our own style. Some of us tend to go with more of a normal style, following the trends and trying our best to stay in line. Others will step outside of the boundaries and do things in a unique way, even though it is not right or wrong. One thing that seems to be universal among parents, however, is the ability to know if their children are making a public scene. One couple may have realized it when their four-year-old son was ‘exploring’ a restaurant but they chose to ignore it.
The father decided to remain anonymous when he sent in a letter to Nicole Cliffe at the advice column, Slate’s Care and Feeding advice column. He said: “My wife and I and our 4-year-old son were out to dinner last week,” he wrote. “It was a medium-nice restaurant, not fast food, but not super fancy either.”
According to the father, the son is an active but average boy and he has a problem sitting through a meal. “We let him explore the restaurant a little,” the dad wrote. “I noticed our waitress giving him the hairy eyeball, so we asked him to stop running.”
“He was pretty good about it after that, but he did get underfoot when she was carrying a tray, and she spoke to him pretty sharply to go back to our table and sit down,” he added. “I felt it was completely uncalled for, and she should have come and spoken to us personally instead of disciplining someone else’s child.”
In order to retaliate, he gave the waitress a 5% tip and had a brief conversation with the manager “who gave noncommittal replies.”
“My wife agrees with me, but when we posted about it on Facebook, we got a lot of judgy responses,” he continued.
The people in the comments seem to think that the parents were being selfish.
“A 4-year-old is capable of sitting at a table to eat a meal if they are taught to,” one woman wrote. “It’s only the parents who think the kids can’t manage it [and] just don’t bother to teach their kids to sit still.”
Someone else thought the waitress was well within her rights to tell the child to be quiet. “When you bring your child out into the world, the child becomes everyone’s responsibility,” the commenter wrote. “This is effected when there is an absence of parental oversight or the presence of obvious abuse. Your child becomes my child if I see it about to step into traffic because you are momentarily distracted.”
“It is absolutely possible to take a 4-year-old to a restaurant (even a medium-fancy restaurant), and have him sit and eat quietly, amuse himself, and leave only crumbs on the floor,” another woman wrote.
“Your kid is not ready to go to a restaurant if they are incapable of sitting still. If you don’t have the foresight to let them tire themselves out first, and then sit down for dinner, then you have no business getting nasty with the waitress for doing your job for you.”
Incidentally, the columnist was also not impressed.
“A kid ‘exploring’ a restaurant is not a thing,” Cliffe explained. “When you did intervene, it wasn’t to get him back in his seat. It was just to instruct him to ‘stop running.’ You weren’t parenting, so a server did it for you. She was right. You were wrong.”
She also said that their son should probably not be taken to a ‘medium-nice’ restaurant until he was able to behave himself.
“You can practice at home. You can practice at McDonald’s. You can try a real restaurant again with the understanding that one of you may need to take him out when he starts getting the urge to run an obstacle course,” she added.
“I doubt that you will do this, but I encourage you to return the restaurant, apologize to the manager for complaining about your server, and leave her a proper tip,” she continued.