Lately there has been a lot of discussion about if restaurants should be allowed to ban children, as some restaurants do already. While there are many arguments on either side of the debate, the whole question of how children behave when out to dinner got me to thinking about some of the disasters we've all had eating with our little ones.
Here's a round-up of the worst (and grossest!) stories our readers shared on the New Jersey Family Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who told their stories!
First is Deborah L., who may never leave her child unattended again:
I took my 5-year-old daughter and her friend to a pizza place. I placed the order at the front counter and seated us in a booth. When our order was ready, I went to pick it up, leaving the girls in the booth for a nanosecond. In the time I was gone, my daughter and her friend managed to turn over the red pepper flakes on the table and were mushing them around. I, of course, immediately stopped them but at that instant, one touched her face, then the other did too. I had two screaming 5-year-olds and frankly, didn't know what to do. I knew water only made it worse so I just stood there laughing at the situation. Eventually, the girls recovered. The folks around us, not so much.
The next story is from Laurie W. who might have taken screaming over what her kids did:
I think my all time worst eating out incident was when both boys decided to belt out at the top of their lungs the Heat Miser song, we were at our local pizza place that we frequent often and thankfully everyone just laughed!
And just when you think you may never eat at a pizza joint again, I share with you Sarah P.'s story:
When my first child was 1 year old, and just beginning to acquire words, we were finishing up at a pizza place. I began to smell a terrible smell, and suspected that it came from his diaper. A minute later the waitress swung by and asked "how is everybody doing here?" My son looked up at her and said a word he'd never used before. "Poopy."
Think it can't get worse? It can. Here's Carol G.'s tale:
An 18-month-old in a high chair in a restaurant in Montreal, vomiting up her dinner and us trying to catch it all discreetly in the linen napkins.
And if you think that's bad, Janine E.'s is even worse:
My 6-month-old threw up all over my brother in the restaurant! Yuk!!
And it's not just the parents with tales of disaster. Jane F. has one from the server's point of view:
I put myself through college waiting tables. One night, an attractive couple and their 5-year-old son sat in my section. Within minutes the child was screaming his head off, throwing utensils and flailing around like a wild animal. But the best part was his mother. As calmly as a serial killer (and just as creepy) she would sing-song to her son, "Now Johnny, I think you need a time out to calm down. Let's go outside for a moment until you can act appropriately." For a solid HOUR, in and out the door they went while I dodged salt shakers, forks, and a bottle of ketchup. The woman never had time to eat, I had a disaster to clean up and the feral child never stopped! LOL!!
And I saved my personal favorite for last, from Terri P.:
My son is 20 years old now . . . but when he was about 3 or 4 he stuck a gummy bear up his nose that was on his ice cream sundae when we went out to eat at Friendly's. We were laughing so hard trying to get it out I think they were ready to ask us to please leave.
And finally, Richard Z. poses a question I think we can all relate to:
If your child decides to mix the sugar, the pepper, the ketchup, the water, the mustard and the salt together, and then pours it on the table, does the child grow up to be a chef on a Network Food Show??
Yes, Richard. Yes, she (or he) does.
Anna Sandler is a contributor to New Jersey Family. She also writes about life in New Jersey with three little kids at her personal blog Random Handprints.
Would love to hear your dining disaster story, too. Share it with us here!