One of the best things about restaurants is you often get to choose where you sit. Unlike airplanes or theater where seats are assigned and you may get stuck sitting behind the really tall guy or next to the gal traveling with her cat when you are completely allergic, in restaurants, you usually have some input as to where you sit.
That said, it always surprises me when people choose to sit near a family with young children, then feel the need to complain about it. It would be one thing, I imagine, if it was a fancy restaurant inappropriate for children. I think it’s pretty safe to assume though that if they offer crayons at the hostess stand, the restaurant welcomes children.
Also, if children are behaving poorly – standing on their seats, running around the restaurant, screaming — that could be a cause for legitimate concern. In our case, none of that behavior was present. We were at a local family friendly restaurant with another family and our combined four children. It was 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday night. We like to eat early to both avoid large crowds and long waits and keep the kids on the bedtime schedule.
We came armed with a few toys and snacks to supplement the free crayons until the meal arrived and consciously chosen some tables near the back of the restaurant so as not to the disturb the three other diners who were present. Our kids were behaving nicely and we barely noticed as an older couple sat down near us. The kids were talking about what they had done that day and at one point my friend’s daughter became very animated and excited talking about a birthday party she had attended. She was not screaming, but her normal speaking voice , especially when excited, would never been mistaken for quiet.
All of a sudden, the woman at the table next to us lets out a huge, “Shhhhhhhhhh” coupled with a look of complete disgust. You would think my friend’s child had poured chocolate milk on her head. It was an intensely awkward moment. I was mortified for my friend and her daughter, but didn’t really want to mix it up with an older couple on a Saturday night. Thankfully, my friend pointed out that there were many other empty seats in the restaurant where they might be more comfortable with the noise was bothering them.
As they got up to move, she aptly noted, “If they don’t like kids, why would they sit next to us?”
Have you ever had a similar situation in a restaurant? What happened to you and how did you handle it?