An Open Letter From The Parents Of A Toddler To Everyone Else In The Restaurant

Ad failed to load

Dear Fellow Restaurant Patrons,

We are here and we brought our kids. I know. No, stop crying. Yes, I'm talking to you, not my children. Look, I think this can work out and we can all get out of this dining experience with our sanities intact and our bellies properly filled, but I think we need to discuss a few things first.

As our vivacious brood enters the restaurant, my two boys deeply engrossed in their pretend sword fight, just know that your whispers and eye rolls do not go unnoticed. When the hostess seats us a few tables away from you, and the toddler squeals with excitement and delight, your dramatic sigh is so loud it's almost tangible. When my preschooler preoccupies the waitress we share, with his entree indecisiveness and a slew of knock knock jokes he's been practicing, I see you shake your head in absolute disgust. 

Ad failed to load

Somewhere along the line, everyone seems to have lost their patience and compassion for parents with young children. On a daily basis, I deal with people who are annoyed at our very existence, but never is it so pronounced as when my family goes out to a restaurant (which is pretty frequently because I'm no Barefoot Contessa and otherwise we'd all starve).

Maybe you think, "Well, they had kids, and kids are loud and disruptive, which is something they likely knew before they decided to have kids, so isn't the decision to have kids an implicit acceptance of the limitations that come with toting around loud, living disruptions, like maybe not going to places like restaurants where other people are trying to eat their entrees in peace?" Perhaps you think that when we procreated, we forfeited our right to eating out, at least for a handful of years.

Ad failed to load

I humbly — and with great respect for your desire to eat a meal without hearing a child repeatedly shout the Paw Patrol theme song, a desire I share — disagree. I think it's really, totally OK for me and my kids to be in a restaurant with you. I would go further to argue, even, that by opting to eat in a restaurant tonight, you implicitly consented to allow an uncurated assortment of humans — and whatever level and variety of noise those humans might create — to share your dining space with you. You didn't know what kind of company you might be walking into, but you did kinda sign up for the uncertainty. So yes, I knew my kids might be loud and annoying sometimes, and you knew they might be in this restaurant tonight. So let's just all try to get through this together.

Let me help you understand why we, the parents of a toddler in a restaurant, might seem a little more... impatient: For most people, having their food delayed by a backup happening in the kitchen would be a slight annoyance, but nothing catastrophic. For us, the extra twenty minutes has turned our happy, docile toddler into a raging, hangry hellbeast of a mini-human. As you sip your house wine and look on in horror, my husband and I take shifts bouncing him, walking him around, and doing our best to distract and quiet him. Our efforts must terminally disappoint you, because ultimately you make a big, loud show of moving to another table away, far away from the noise. 

Ad failed to load

Though I know I could lessen the angry onslaught, if I simply nursed the toddler, I know that too would probably offend your delicate sensibilities. So instead, in a last ditch effort, we offer our toddler an iPhone to watch educational videos. Now, dripping in sweat from the extensive placating measures we have taken, we hear your "hushed" commentary about how parents these days are so lazy, and how if we had any decency we would have just stayed home.

Despite your invaluable input, I personally don't believe that having children should result in years of house arrest. We clearly bring our children out to restaurants, not just for the heroic sense of accomplishment that comes with successfully pulling off a family outing, but also for teachable moments. If our children are never allowed to experience a restaurant, how will they ever learn appropriate restaurant etiquette? It's a process. And I can assure you that my husband and I didn't come out with the maniacal intent to ruin your meal. We really are doing everything in our power to remedy the situation.

Ad failed to load

And if you want our ill-mannered kids to turn into well-mannered adults, you're going to need to learn to tolerate us bringing them here, the "classroom" where that learning can happen. It's not like we can sit home and tell them tales of magical places called ~restaurants~ and try to describe the decorum with which they will be expected to conduct themselves once they reach adulthood and are finally granted entrance to such hallowed establishments. Nope. We pretty much have to just haul them out there, and correct their every godforsaken move, over and over, for years, until they finally get it.

As soon as the food arrives, my boys are back to their normal selves. Happily munching away, they are none the wiser to all the uproar they have caused. My husband and I breathe a collective sigh of relief and hurriedly devour our own meals before the kids are done and ready to go.

Ad failed to load

Maybe you've never had kids, or it's been a long time since you did, but I beg of you, have a little compassion and understanding when you see a family with small children struggling at a restaurant. Try and put yourselves in their shoes. And, if you find it completely impossible to muster any empathy, perhaps you should just stay home.

Best wishes for smooth digestion,

Parents of the Hangry Toddler

Ad failed to load

Images: Mike Liu/Flickr; Giphy(4)

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

15 Baby Names With Unique Nicknames, So Your Family Has Options

I love a good diminutive name, also known as a nickname. I believe I’m partial to them because of my own name, Abigale, but I go by Abi. And since they’re both uniquely spelled, everyone thinks my name is pronounced Ah-bee for some reason — but even …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills