Well, I can't imagine that the guy didn't say something. I'm sure he did. I just wasn't so intent on their situation that I know exactly what happened. I do know that he did get the waiter (or busser) to clean off the back of the booth at one point and the parents were aware of what was going on. Remember, this kid was probably 7 or 8 (or perhaps 9), so we're not talking a toddler here. That was what really blew me away. It also made me think more about WHAT is being taught these days.
I realize that we are probably more strict with manners. Although at home we may be more relaxed, manners are never forgotten. Those don't waver. In restaurants, though, another set of rules apply because you are in a social situation and the other diners need to be respected...dining etiquette. We actually have very few things we do as a family for entertainment... dining out is one of them. We (including dd, 9yo) have enjoyed, as a family, what I would call "nice" dining since dd was about 5yo, and we eat out about once a week. This may or may not involve white tablecloth, but isn't what I'd call "fine" dining (the bill may be $100 - $150, but rarely more). We really don't have fine dining of the caliber of The French Laundry or Gramercy Tavern where we live, so any more would be rare. Still, it's occasionally upscale enough that dd needs to use nuances like properly eating bread, using her utensils continental style (less clanging), placing them properly on the plate, not leaning fork and knife on table, spooning her soup away from her, placing her napkin on the seat when excused from the table, etc. The esoteric points, I suppose. I don't expect her to follow those etiquette rules at Outback Steakhouse, but I feel that knowing them has helped her to be more aware at the table, and it has reflected that even in casual places, she is respectful of other diners. And interestingly enough, we do dine in places where she may be the only child, and has done so for a while now. Earlier this summer, we were at an upscale French restaurant, and she was the only child. She had the mussels, and the elderly gentleman at the next table said to her, with a thick accent, "Young lady, it is nice to see a youngster who not only knows HOW to eat mussels, but also so obviously enjoy them." The whole 3 hour meal was thoroughly enjoyable for all of us and I'm grateful that we've spent so much time teaching dd the finer points that allow us to dine in these places. She did enjoy it, and it blanket policies of "no kids" is ridiculous. But... what is a restaurant owner to do? I guess the few ruin it for the masses of kids who are able to conduct themselves properly.
Like, I said, I know we're stricter, but I all too often see, in even family dining places, kids who are disrespectful of other diners. I'm not expecting them to keep their napkins in their lap or use the right utensil... but I expect them to not throw the napkin at me and to not clang the utensil against dad's beer mug... or hang over the back of the booth dripping sauce. At *any* age, I would hope that parents are aware enough to... EVEN IN FAMILY DINING... allow others to have a peaceful meal. Ambient noise is one thing... having a kid hanging over you saying, "Hey, mister, hey mister, hey, mister, hey... oops!!" is another thing altogether. Don't get me wrong, when dd was a toddler, we lived in Germany and ate at the biergarten where she could play on the equipment while snatching bites. But we knew she wasn't ready for a nice restaurant or even a casual family restaurant. We waited until she was ready.... out of respect of others. Why can't this be reciprocated? And how can this be ignored until a kid is 7 or 8 years old?
(Sorry for the rant... trying to kind of sum up my thoughts replying to several posts.)
Edited by velochic - 8/22/11 at 3:08pm