Demon Spawn-ish-ness in a Restaurant is Learned, not Inherited

Monday, June 11, 2007

I think we all know how I feel about ill-behaved children in restaurants. I still hold myself to that opinion. But let me delve into a related topic; bad manners in children are learned from the closest role models and disciplinarians: parents.

Now, I know I don't have kids, but what I'm going to say is straightforward and simple fact. If your child is a total dick in a restaurant, begging me with a high pitched squeal to gag him or her with a dinner roll, then we should be analyzing the parent.

I'll condone the fact that sometimes it's not the parent, it might just be a night where for some reason, Satan himself has possessed the child in the attempt to drive all of God's creatures to plunge the nearest salad fork into their skulls as a means of escape. But when the child is the definition of hell spawn on a regular basis, then yeah, parents need to take charge.

I was in a cafe grabbing a quick sammich on the go recently, to find a child - I kid you not - spitting towards other customers. The mother just gave weak willed pleads, not orders, to "Honey, please stop that. It's not nice." The child would continue, she would sigh, eat a bite of her salad, then try again, begging him to stop.

My parents, God bless 'em, did an amazing job raising me. They would have taken me to the car, and sat with me till I calmed down. And should I talk back and really act up, a smack on the behind. A spanking rarely ever happened in our household (I don't think I can even count on one hand the number of times), but when it did, it only happened once for the reason given, and never again. If we were punished, both parents held strong to the punishment and there were no if, ands, or buts about it. There was a padlock on the TV cabinet to give example on how the punishments stuck; not that I didn't eventually learn that the key was hidden in a secret compartment in her flowery jewelry box. We learned to accept our punishment, since once it was done, we would be free. Any rebellion would be quickly put down and vanquished. Then we would be grounded further. If we did good, a lesson was learned, and all was forgiven.

Anyways, as this poor woman's child told her to shut up, continued to spit, and make noise you couldn't help but feel sorry for her. Parenting doesn't come with a handbook, and so sometimes the parent feels lost and out of control. Especially in a restaurant, surrounded by critical eyes and judgment.

Still, everyone wanted to scream to her, "YOU ARE THE PARENT! Knock some sense into the brat!" (I'm not condoning smacking him unconscious, but you get my drift, the woman needs to take charge.)

But there is the other parent, the one who barks at the waiter, is rude to the hostess, and yells at the child in public when the child is being a total pea soup spewing, head spinning, out of The Exorcist, demon spawn that congealed from the host-parent. Upset your child is rude and obnoxious? Don't set that kind of example. Screaming parent = screaming child. Rude parent = rude child. Anyone I know with kids confirms this.

A friend of mine told me she took her grand kid out to the car and sat with her kicking and screaming for 45 minutes until she shut up and they went back to the restaurant. Kid never acted up around grandma again, but still acts up around mom and dad. Bravo grandma for showing who's boss.

I guess that, yeah, it's not fair to say that if you can't control your kid you shouldn't take them out with you, but at the same time, screw you. Everyone else should not have to suffer. You pay a baby sitter for that shit. (Anyone remember poor Rosalyn from Calvin and Hobbes?)

Otherwise you know the punishment. I use your child as an blunt instrument of good demeanor "education" on you.


  1. RIGHT ON!!!!

    I was behind two brats while waiting in a LOOONG line at an ice cream place at the Hotel Del Coronado a few years ago, and the mom was as apathetic as the children were obnoxious.

    Running around and screaming like banshees before we even got through the door, the mom seemed like someone had upped her Xanax scrip too much.

    She was very "yawwwn" and "ho-hum" while alternately chatting on her cell phone, held in place by a fake-tanned, dripping in ostentatious jewelry, and bejeweled fingernailed hand.

    As our part of the line got to the entrance of the store, the kids were putting their mouths on the windows and used their hands to smear slobber all over the glass.

    Once we got into the store, the kids were seriously pounding their hands on the glass ice cream case.

    Had my friend not had such a hankering for this particular ice cream, I'd have left the place.

  2. I love your out of hand customer stories. Whether it is an adult or a child they are always great to read.

    Oh the things my husband would have said if he was in there.

  3. Quite right. I've noticed it more and more as I've taken on more students. If is the child evil then so is the parent. If the child is nice, then the parents are usually lovely too. I don't think I've encountered any examples to the contrary.

    The terrifying thing is, it's always the chavvy, foul mouthed, generally rancid mothers screaming and shouting at their kids in the supermarket that seem to have produced not one or two but EIGHT of the little sh*ts to follow them around and pick up their bad habits. HELP!

  4. I once saw a kid licking all the bread for sale at the bakery on Nugget. I had to go and alert someone behind the counter, for the mother was too busy gossiping. This is really unbelievable to me that some people seem to be completely unable to handle their own children...

  5. If the child is evil, so is the parent? I have known several lovely people (parents) in my lifetime who have spawned bratty kids..who turned into unruley teens, and then pathetic adults. Their parents have always been at their wits end about what to do, etc. If they are condemned for the brats, do they get credit for the ones who turned out really good? They had other kids who weren't obnoxious at all..I think the one kid got the one rotten gene or something.

    Since becoming a grandma for the first time 15 months ago, I have a new slant on screaming kids. I don't approve of constant screaming..but she has let out a squeal or two in a family style place. She can't she squeals sometimes. I take along snacks..just in case the food doesn't come out right away. If it's a lively place..she is more likely to squeal.

  6. Melly, you bring up a very good point. Sometimes, the child is just a total brat because nature decided to weed that child out through a future a$$-whooping by someone who won't put up with them.

  7. My kids would get a smack right underneath their ears if they tried this.

  8. Oh dear! Oh dear! Oh dear!
    I went to a pub where they serve food recently and a notice at the bar read 'Children throwing items into diners food will not be tolerated, and will be asked to leave'.
    I promise you, it wasn't a spit and sawdust establishment either.

  9. Demon spawn-ish-ness... ah, Garrett... you make me smile!

  10. Amen Garrett. I have 2 toddlers - we only choose family friendly restaurants to eat out at. Once every couple of monnths we'll take our kids to a nicer restaurant. They get dressed up in suit and tie. They know if they misbehave they have to eat green peas all week long and have to do the dishes.

  11. I'da boxed the brats' ears but good. Think Charlie Murphy's slap-down of "Rick James (Dave Chappell) in one of Chappell's finest episodes...children should be obscene and not heard...did I say that out loud? Damn inner monologue...

  12. i fully agree. my number 1 pet peeve is parents who let their kids act like wild beasts in public, ESPECIALLY restaurants and places where i just want to relax.

    nice post!

  13. I'll slide out from under my favorite lurking rock for this...
    Ever heard of the "Miss Manners Pinch?" You walk calmly to the offending child (and I include my own spawn in this) oh-so-gently place your hand on the back of aforementioned child's neck, and lovingly admonish them that if they continue to behave in that hideous manner (licking the bread at Nugget, for instance, hurling stones off the overpass, battering the dog with a tennis racket...) someone is likely to get hurt. The last bit should be accompanied by a healthy pinch to the back of the tot's neck, so they get the idea of *where* that hurt just might come from. No actual pain should be inflicted, just an intimation is what you want (-;
    My other favorite is to hustle the offending brat over to it's creators, apologizing profusely "Oh, goodness! I'm so sorry! Is he/she yours? I was concerned that she/he was going to get hurt! I'm SO sorry!" The stream of apologies, along with your apparent concern for their little darling, confuses the parent and redirects the brat. And what parent can be excessively offended? You're just keeping their precious little Sproglet from coming to harm! (-;
    P.S. No children were harmed in the making of these suggestion...

  14. Next time you see a small child behaving badly, you might consider he/she has autism or other developmental disorder. There are some kids who are much harder to discipline, and it is not always the parents' nor the child's fault.

    Even ADHD can cause extreme behavioral problems such as spitting on strangers. It can be very hard on the parent and on the kid to learn how to curb those behaviors in public, and at the same time they suffer when faced with prejudice and misunderstanding by neurotypical people.

  15. Leila - Very good point! However, I think the child in this post was just a punk.

  16. "neurotypical people" ??!?!??

    OK, *that's* a new one.

  17. I had dinner tonight with two children - and all behaved! I feel so annoyed by rude behavior by children because of the parenting! I had such an experience in Golden Corral (near the Westfield Town Center in Brandon) where a brat located a table adjacent to mine who threw a tantrum forced me to muddle through dinner amid all the ruckus!

    I'm glad that a family resort complete with with rides, recreation, and Ron Stoppable, located an hour away from where I live (That's Walt Disney World, folks!), implemented an age restriction policy in Victoria & Albert's, located at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, which is a fancy restaurant! If I have $1,000,000 and an ability to drive on an interstate, I'd like to shell my $125 and call my reservation just to divert myself from the hubub and flying Chex in my caviar sampling platter! (Hey, children younger than ten are not welcome there!) There are other few restaurants that implement those age policies, so go to them if you have the chance and money! Oh, and there's always takeout!

    If the parents with bratty children are of Christian faith, they might want to consider Hermine Hartley's manners manuals - they go beyond stuffy finishing school etiquette lessons!


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