To Kid or Not to Kid

Have you seen this yet? Short version: Couple takes 8-month-old to 3-star, Michelin-rated restaurant when babysitter cancels at the last minute. Baby cries.

I feel for these parents, and I think this writer gets it right. While I concur the parents didn’t make a great decision, I empathize. Having a babysitter cancel, especially at the last minute, sucks big time. However, here were a couple of details that really blew my mind about the story:

1. Who pays $470 for tickets to dine at an exclusive restaurant? These are not my people. I suppose that they could’ve saved up for a couple of years for the chance to dine at this restaurant, which further reinforces not wanting to eat the cost (see what I did there?).

2. The owner’s tweet about it after. He could’ve asked about starting a no child policy without mentioning details about his patrons. Sure, some people may have known what he was referring to, but otherwise he could have gotten very good feedback. Hey, if your policy is to require a lot of money to save a seat, you are well within your rights to say, “By the way, no children under 16 are allowed in the establishment.”

And, of course, the comments are full of the usual vitriol. “You had your brats, keep them at home if they can’t behave.” (Read: stay absolutely still and quiet in public.) “If you don’t like children, stay at home yourself.” Yadda yadda yadda.

Look, some parents could use a clue about their children and work to insure they aren’t actively disrupting other people’s experience in a public space (i.e. throwing food, running amok, screaming or having a tantrum for all the world to hear). And some other people could use a few deep breaths if they are someplace where children have to be (a non-fancy restaurant, the grocery store, Target, church).

I do a lot of mental calculations when I am flying solo with my three children in public. How vital is this shopping trip? Where are the exits? Can I get a table in view of the restrooms in case M has to go? At 9 and 7, the girls are usually okay. However, Flora tends to wander, and Kate will get jumpy, excited. M takes his cues from them.

I have gotten food to go because of my children misbehaving. I have scooped a yelling M out of a cart and told the girls to head for the door without completing my shopping. I have also stood over a tantruming child waiting for her to finish so I could leave (instead of wrestling with her and risk hurting her or her hurting me). I have used the cry room at church, or gone outside during Mass (if weather was okay). I, generally, am not one of *those parents* who think my children are the center of the universe and they can do whatever they want whenever.

But there is also expected behavior. I was recently in Eat ‘n’ Park, which is the family-friendliest of family friendly restaurants in this area, with four children (my three and my niece). The girls were giggly and a little loud, but not out of control. We got several disapproving looks from a senior woman in an adjourning booth. OMG the self control it took to not ask her to stop turning around and looking at the children like they were a blight on society. At one point, M really acted up, so on a wing and a prayer, I ACTUALLY LEFT THE GIRLS IN THE BOOTH AND WISKED HIM INTO THE LADIES’ ROOM. He settled down, and I got back to the booth in record time. As far as I could tell no one had rioted. The woman still had the temerity to say to the server, “Well, I sure hope they don’t leave you too much of a mess!” Apparently she doesn’t have grandchildren, or has never dined with them.

Any trip into the world is a crapshoot, and I am aware of that. But — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — every trip into the world is also a learning experience. For more than just the children.


Two small victories (knock on wood):

The girls are getting used to packing their lunches in the evenings. They don’t necessarily like it, per se — they whinge quite a bit, and Kate asks when they can buy again — but they are doing it. It’s a huge relief. Now to stay on it!

M is wearing most of the new pants I bought him. Not all of them are sweatpants, strictly speaking, but none of them have buttons, and they are not jeans. He calls them warm pants. I’m good with it. If we ever get invited to something fancy where we would take the kids, we’ll have an issue. But, I’m not really expecting that to happen.


For the record, if I had found myself in those parents’ shoes, I think I would have offered the seats to someone else, or sent my husband with his mother, or something like that. I would have declined to take the baby. But as I’m never going to pay nearly $200 a head to dine in a Michelin-rated restaurant — or at least anytime in the near future — I’m happy I didn’t have to make that choice.

What would you have done as a parent or as a patron?