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How Does Your Familiy Handle Going Out To Eat?

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 
I am just curious what different people do.

My 4yo DS is very spirited...we avoid really crowded restaurants, and try to go to noisier places so that if he does start to get loud it isn't a big deal. We have him remain seated (this has always been a rule) and we will bring a couple toys or a puzzle. We also go to places where he can run around.

There is an Indian restaurant that does a lunch buffet, and we hit that place a lot. It is nice because we can get our food right away, but DH and I take turns getting food and DS remains seated for the most part. (we let him come with us to get food if there aren't lots of other people walking around)

I recently went out to lunch with a friend who has a 2 yo. She kind of let him do whatever he wanted, including jumping up and down in the vinyl booths. The manager came over and asked VERY nicely if we would please not allow our kids (hers was the only one, but he was being nice) to stand on the booths. He explained that they had just been recovered, and that toddler shoes very easily rip the vinyl. (it was an old fashioned diner with red sparkley booths!! Really cool!)

My friend was so offended...she looked at the guy like he had 3 heads and said "I can't get him to sit down! You will have to cancel our food because we are leaving" and we left. I was MORTIFIED by her behavior, and I really hope that manager didn't think that I was in agreement with her.

Then I had to listen to her complain about how ridiculous that was etc...
That they weren't "Child Friendly" (they had really nice boosters and high chairs) and that they were being rude. I guess to her "Child Friendly" means her kid can destroy the place?

I felt bad because they had to throw away the food that we had ordered about 10 minutes before.
post #2 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubfam View Post
I felt bad because they had to throw away the food that we had ordered about 10 minutes before.
Don't! They ate it. Oh, yes, I've worked in the food industry.

Firstly, I only go to independant Mexican, Nepalese, Italian, and Chinese resturants. People there LOVE children. They see them as the gifts that they are. Also, booths only. That one is written in stone for me. Bring things! Not necessarily a toy chest, but aside from the crayons and paper (often provided in nice establishments), you would be suprised how long a pocket full of legos can go. Also when they're old enough, play cards and dice, right there at the table.
post #3 of 77
Here is how it would go:

Manager:
Please don't let him stand on the booths [I will make up some lame excuse that is clearly not true] - - Um we just had them covered an a 20 pound baby jumping on them will clearly tear them to shreds.

Me(more likely DW): Jet, please take off your shoes. (to manager) There ya go, have a nice day.

If he pressed further, we would probably leave.
---------------------
My suspicion is he did not actually think the child could break the seat, but he thought he could/should/would say something to exert his authority on my child. It isn't really his fault, society has conditioned us to think that we MUST CONTROL our kids all the time. Arbitrary controll struggles are something I avoid with my children.

There is nothing better than short circuiting their lame excuse for trying to control the situation... The shoe removal says: "I don't believe you have a real reason to make this request so I will call your bluff."

And for the record, any restraunt or manager that has anti-family policies deserves to throw away food and lose business. (I am assuming a place with red sparkley booths is supposedly "family friendly"). Any manager worth his own spit knows any time you confront people you risk losing business, and no matter how sheepishly or polite you are when you are making a rude statement, it is still rude. His statement was "Control your child" not, "save our booth".
post #4 of 77
We go out to eat, as a family, to the same restaurant every Sunday.

It's an all you can Buffet restaurant (ever heard of Golden Corral?).

We go when DS is hungry. He does extremely well because we are pretty much eating about 5 minutes after we sit down.

At this Age, we will ONLY do Buffet-type restaurants.
post #5 of 77
Weeelll, I make my kids sit, because I don't enjoy eating with a jumping 2 year old with me, and frankly, I don't go out to eat with others who let their 2 years stand on chairs. Only because *I* dislike that atmosphere when trying to eat. I actually hate buffets, because I want to sit and talk, not take turns running for food. We do try to go to places that serve quickly, and we do often order an appetizer - I've been pregnant or lactating for a great % of our marriage, so I'm always as starved anyway. (Maybe we'll share and appetizer then share a meal.)

Personally, I think your friend was very rude to speak for you, and if it was me, I would have stayed an ate with my own kid.
post #6 of 77
I absolutely believe a toddler jumping could tear the vinyl on those shiny seats, so let's not cast aspersions on the manager, mmkay?

As it is, we have a very difficult time with our 2.5 year old, getting him to sit down. We ALWAYS request a booth because it's easier to get him to sit snuggled next to one of us than in his own chair or booster.

We do NOT allow him to behave like a maniac. Kids will be kids, but we need to teach him to be respectful of other people's space esp in a place like a restaurant. So the meal is mostly creative redirection for him

He is not allowed to get down and run around, not allowed to squirrel around under the table, he's not allowed to turn around and stare into the table behind or next to us, and he's not allowed to stand/jump up and down.

We have been going to restaurants with him since he was a baby and have always enforced basic courtesy rules, while being respectful of his needs as well. If it's clear he CAN'T stay still, one of us will take him outside to burn off some steam. Running around outside is acceptable. Running around inside is not.
post #7 of 77
If he was polite about it, I think she was out of line. He didn't ask her to leave. She overreacted.

And he may not have been worried about the seats, but about the restaurant's liability if that 2 year old fell and hit his head. Maybe the seats were merely a pretense. Then again, vinyl seats can split. They aren't designed to be jumped on!

But honestly, I don't let my kids jump on the seats at a restaurant. I don't let them stand. If they have that much energy, we go for a walk outside the restaurant while one of us eats, and then we switch. When we are at a table, my kids know they must sit on their bottoms or on their knees. They don't HAVE to sit at the table, but if they're on a chair or a bench, they must be on their bottom or knees. Period.

Shaggy Daddy: While I respect your point of view, the child wasn't just STANDING, he was also jumping up and down. That is considerably more dangerous and potentially harmful to the seats.
post #8 of 77
If he was polite about it, I think she was out of line. He didn't ask her to leave. She overreacted.

And he may not have been worried about the seats, but about the restaurant's liability if that 2 year old fell and hit his head. Maybe the seats were merely a pretense. Then again, vinyl seats can split. They aren't designed to be jumped on!

But honestly, I don't let my kids jump on the seats at a restaurant. I don't let them stand. If they have that much energy, we go for a walk outside the restaurant while one of us eats, and then we switch. When we are at a table, my kids know they must sit on their bottoms or on their knees. They don't HAVE to sit at the table, but if they're on a chair or a bench, they must be on their bottom or knees. Period.

Shaggy Daddy: While I respect your point of view, the child wasn't just STANDING, he was also jumping up and down. That is considerably more dangerous and potentially harmful to the seats.

Oh, and where is this place? Dh and I LOVE Indian food and are always looking for a good place in Portland. I'll patronize them, if they're close to us!
post #9 of 77
I agree. It is reasonable to expect a child not to jump on the seats. I think your friend over reacted.

As far as the general question with a younger one here's what I'd do. Before going to the restaurant talk about the expectations. 1. Bring along snack food that be consumed immediately if needed. 2. bring along books, little toys. Stuff they don't get everyday so you have some novelty factor. 3. If there is a wait take a walk after the food has been ordered before it arrives. - when our son was young we had an attraction everyplace we went - fish tank at the Japanese restaurant, etc. 4. Don't expect to linger over a meal the way you would if you didn't have a kid along.

Some planning can make a big difference and also I'd recognize that for some kids certain ages just aren't going to be too conducive to eating in a restaurant. And, at some point in your child's eating out life you may have to bail from a meal and that's okay.
post #10 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2bluefish View Post
Personally, I think your friend was very rude to speak for you, and if it was me, I would have stayed an ate with my own kid.
Yes!! I wish I could have but we were actually on vacation together and we were all in riding in her van at the time.
I felt like it was pretty rude that she just decided we were all leaving, but I am also pregnant and sometimes irrational things irritate me, so I try not to say to much these days...I sometimes realize later that I was being a nut!

I really wish I would have said something to her about it , though.


I am already getting more ideas for DS from all your replies. Why haven't I though of legos before?
post #11 of 77
It was very rude for her to speak for you and decide that everyone had to leave.

I also agree that the owner/manager of the place does have a right to ask that his newly recoverd seats are not used as a trampoline.

It's not about controlling a child to teach them to sit down, or redirect them to a new activity, take them outside - I'm a pretty laid back mamma (well, most of the time ) but let's face it, there's behavior for inside your own house and behavior for outside the home.

Now, if the guy was rude and asked that the two year old eat neatly and not make a mess, I'd think he was crazy. He just asked that the child not stand on the booth seat. Not an unreasonable request, IMO
post #12 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubfam View Post
...I am also pregnant and sometimes irrational things irritate me, so I try not to say to much these days...
Wait, wait, she made a pregnant woman get up and leave without eating? I'm sorry, I don't think I like your friend much

My DD (21 months) and I eat out virtaully every day (I admit rather sheepishly) so I hesitate to post of 'restauant' threads since it is so commonplace and part of our routine.

That said, what works for us is taking finger food and crayons or a mangadoodle for drawing. I personally don't do toys or let her play with anything on the table like sugar packets, napkins etc, but we do have stndard games we play like clapping 'mary mack' type games and simon-say-touch-your-ear...stuff like that. We don't get up at all from first sitting until we are done and leaving, but my DD seems to have a decent tolerance for sitting which obviously not all little ones do.
post #13 of 77
I dont let dd jump on the seats. First, it's dangerous. And second it is not respectful of other people's property. And third a maniac kid is not respecting other peoples right to have a somewhat pleasant dining experience. If she needs to jump, I simply tell her to jump on the floor. Or we go for a walk. I am always prepared with toys/books/coloring things. I do not expect my 2 yo to sit and 'behave' for an hour at a time. BUT as her parent it's my responsibility to keep her safe and teach her socially acceptable ways to act. I see no problem with a 2 yo jumping at all, just the time and place it is done, yk? I dont think the store manager was trying to be controlling at all. He was probably 1.Worried about liability-if this kid falls he could be sued (yes, people sue others for thier own lack of judgement) and 2.Worried about his other customers. It was a perfectly reasonable request. If someone comes to MY house and proceeds to jump on the furniture, I'd ask them to please stop as well. We've worked hard for what we have, and I dont want a 20 lb or 200 lb person ruining it.
post #14 of 77
Subbing so i can come back to this when I have more time.
post #15 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by easy_goer View Post
Wait, wait, she made a pregnant woman get up and leave without eating? I'm sorry, I don't think I like your friend much
No kidding! (With my low blood sugar issues, I'm the one on vacation who wants to know when we are eating and where and don't even think of deviating from the plan! ) Yeah, it stinks when you don't really have a choice in the matter. But I'm glad to see other GD moms don't think it is unreasonable to have a small child behave reasonably well at a restaurant.
post #16 of 77
We go to kid friendly places that have food that we know our children will eat. Then, we order the kid's food immediately and I'll walk around outside with the children for a few minutes. Then, I return to the table when I think that their food is there and cooled. The kids stay busy and we can relax and wait for our food. When our food arrives, we usually have kids who are wanting to climb under the table, etc, but we just deal with it then. We deal with it by allowing them to hang out under the table if it's sanitary. If they can't be under there (almost never is an issue) we have them color or something and order the check so that we can be ready to leave quickly. Just knowing that we can leave quickly because we have our check in hand helps us to relax.

But, lately, with 3 kids and the youngest not quite 2, we don't eat out.
Lisa
post #17 of 77
When my DD was 2, I wouldn't have been able to make her sit down in the booth--and the manager specified sitting, not just no jumping--without physically restraining her and causing a loud tantrum. I also would have had no choice but cancel our order and leave.

I just don't get the "toddler shoes" thing either. I haven't met many 2 year olds with track cleats. I would be more concerned about adults with sharp things in their pockets--pocket knives, pens, wallet chains, cell phone antennas, etc.

As for the jumping, if it was heavy-duty, out-of-control jumping, I could maybe see how the manager might be concerned, but for normal 2 yo bouncing, I think the manager would probably be overreacting. A lot of people do have unreasonable expectations of toddlers and expect them to act like quiet little adults.
post #18 of 77
From your post it sounds like your friend may have overreacted.

When we go out to eat, we very clearly tell the kids our expectations of them. We ask the kids, "What do we do at the restaurant?" They chime in with their replies ("Eat food!" "Sit down!" "Be polite!" "Stay with mommy and daddy!") and we emphasize that the most important thing is that they stay with us...we have a couple escape artists. We do the same thing when we go to Mass or MW appointments or anywhere else, so the kids know what we expect of them. We try to keep it positive (rather than saying "no running away" we say "stay near Mommy and Daddy"). If they start getting really wild in the restaurant we'll quietly remind them, "don't forget, in a restaurant it's important to stay in your seat." If needed we will provide an explanation, like "the chairs aren't sturdy enough to support you when you stand, and you could fall" or whatever.

We also try to plan what we're going to order before we go in, if possible, and order food when the waitress takes our drink order. Sometimes we'll ask if they'll bringout the kids' food first, if it's ready before our's, and we often ask for side dishes of applesauce, fruit, or a veggie if the kids finish before us.

Oh, and we love buffets too. The kids think it's great that they're allowed to pick out whatever they want for their meal. We also let them choose their food on the menu at sit-down restaurants, if we're able.
post #19 of 77
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennisee View Post
When my DD was 2, I wouldn't have been able to make her sit down in the booth--and the manager specified sitting, not just no jumping--without physically restraining her and causing a loud tantrum. I also would have had no choice but cancel our order and leave.

I just don't get the "toddler shoes" thing either. I haven't met many 2 year olds with track cleats. I would be more concerned about adults with sharp things in their pockets--pocket knives, pens, wallet chains, cell phone antennas, etc.

As for the jumping, if it was heavy-duty, out-of-control jumping, I could maybe see how the manager might be concerned, but for normal 2 yo bouncing, I think the manager would probably be overreacting. A lot of people do have unreasonable expectations of toddlers and expect them to act like quiet little adults.

The Manager said toddler shoes because I am sure that has been their experience (hence the fact that they had JUST had to recover the booths) I doubt that they have had adults standing on the seats. He was just trying to be nice. He really couldn't have been any nicer about it. Maybe it wasn't even vinyl, I am not sure what the seats were made from, but it looked kinda like vinyl but with a hard kind of finish on it that made it really shiny. It looked like it could split open very easily. And it did look brand new...no tears or holes or dull spots.

And the restaurant was empty, he didn't seem like he cared if the kids were acting like kids. They has been noisy and he didn't say anything about that. He just asked really really nicely if we wouldn't allow the kids to jump or stand on the booths.

My friend could have requested the food to go or could have taken her son outside to jump (like pp's have mentioned)
Instead, we all had to wait another hour to get food.

I think that some people really expect to have the red carpet rolled out for their children (and themselves) everywhere that they go. They really can't understand why it isn't okay for their kids to jump on other people's furniture, etc...
post #20 of 77
Quote:
Originally Posted by dubfam View Post

They really can't understand why it isn't okay for their kids to jump on other people's furniture, etc...
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