Kids in the Restaurant: THAT was odd.

Last night my parents and I went to a nice Italian restaurant downtown. Not super-duper fancy, but nice (and purveyors of one badass artichoke & 3 cheese pizza).
I think I’ve made it clear in my short time on the SDMB that I am not a fan of kids. I am especially not fond of kids in restaurants. However, I make exceptions for kids that do what they should, which is be seen and not heard.
Imagine my chagrin as, just as my lasagna arrives, a young couple with two small children are seated directly next to us. I cast a few glances their way as I dig in to my pasta to gauge exactly how bad this will be.
Uh oh. Toddler girl…two-ish. Big watery eyes and she keeps trying to jam her pink little fist all the way in her mouth. I am disheartened. My eyes then fall upon the infant of indeterminate sex. Wide awake and very curious. I think maybe this one is not so bad. The infant is, in fact, rather…ahem…cute.

All this to say that the children behaved themselves quite well. No crying, no outbursts, no fussing. Halfway through my excellent lasagna I grudgingly admit that these kids are okay.
The odd thing is that Mom and Dad kept the kids in their laps the whole time. The infant wasn’t fussy at all, didn’t seem disturbed about its surroundings. But Mom ate with this rather large baby on her knee the whole time.
I think ‘Okay. New baby, maybe it’s a post-partum thing. Maybe she can’t stand to have the little bastard out of arm’s length. Odd, but not creepy.’
But then Dad makes the little get into his lap. Little Curly Sue there didn’t demand it or seem to care either way. Apparently both of these young, obviously well-off people (I sure couldn’t afford to go there on my own…nor could my parents at their age have afforded it either) feel it’s necessary to keep their children in their laps, even in public.
This struck me as a little eccentric and very, very needy. There is no way in hell that my parents would have held me in their lap while eating. And there’s no way that I’ll ever try to keep a two year old in mine while trying to eat piping hot pizza.

Of course, maybe I’m the clueless one and this isn’t all that odd or needy. Perhaps, as I wasn’t coddled much as a kid, it just seems needy to me. Perhaps it seems odd because I can remember that I would not want to be held at all in such a situation. I’d be squirming to get away into my own damn chair. I still think it’s weird.

On the parental oddness scale of 1-10, this is about a 3. They probably feel that it’s the best way to keep their child quiet and not offend/annoy the other diners.

Ahh…another person of the “they should be just like adults, but smaller” faction.

Are you implying something here? Am I not allowed to have my daughter in my lap? Hmmm? :dubious:

First part definitely. What, exactly, is wrong with a kid being “needy” (your term, not mine) and receiving positive attention to keep them comfortable? ‘Curly Sue’ sitting there without complaint was just that - her feeling comfortable and at peace. If she squirmed and kicked and fought and dad forced her to sit there, then there might be a problem, but only might - maybe he knew that she was about to go rampaging around the place and was trying to prevent it. But these two were just chillin’…it was a GOOD thing.

Gee, I wonder why…Maybe because their parents kept them comforted and occupied the whole time so as not to offend the other people in the restaurant with screaming kids?

Is there no pleasing you? You dislike kids being kids, and then when they are “seen, not heard” you somehow draw a conclusion that something ‘weird’ is going on.

Children need to be taught how to act in many ways. How do you expect a child to learn how to behave calmly in a nice restaurant? Magic dust sprinkled on their forehead? No, they need to be taken to restaurants and shown how to behave properly and be guided as to what is and isn’t allowed. The ‘problem’ kids are most likely children at restaurants with parents that are so happy to actually be out and social that they neglect their parenting duties a bit…which is understandable. But to have well-behaved children requires a lot of work and patience…and sometimes just a comfortable place to sit and relax.


I was with you until you said this; as long as kids are quiet I don’t care how it’s achieved, but you’re critiquing their methods when it strikes me that they are one of the few parents out there who are genuinely concerned that their spawn not ruin everyone else’s dining experience.

I don’t have children, by choice; parents who choose to take infants and small children out to nice restaurants and then let them sit there and scream drive me insane. If they’re not old enough to know better, leave them with a sitter or take them to McDonald’s.

It seems that the parents you were watching were doing everything possible to ensure a quiet peaceful meal for all involved, including you; it seems churlish to critique how they managed it.

I’d say it might be odd if they did this every single day in their own home. In a restaurant, it’s clearly a way to ensure the kids stay happy and quiet during the meal. Put a 2 year old in a high chair inside a crowded restaurant, and they could be spending the entire night trying (and failing) to keep her in line.


Small children need their parents, and they need them close by. And the parents of small children keep their children close to them because that’s what parents do. They do it for the safety, security, and love of their children.

If you are the parent of a small child, sometimes there is nothing better in the whole, wide world than the feeling you get when that youngster is sleeping on your shoulder. Sometimes there is nothing more lovely than the smell of your baby’s hair. While you were enjoying your pizza, those oddball parents were enjoying their children.

They sound like a nice family.

Sounds to me like they are parents who care. Had it been me observing this, I would have wanted to go hug and kiss both parents and thank them for ensuring everybody in the place had a pleasant dining experience. Hung Mung I’m not sure of your point here. If the kids had been hollering and screaming at the top of their lungs and running around the place, I’m guessing there’d be a pit thread. You could have had a really good thread about how positive these parents are and about how they went to the trouble to make sure their kids behaved. Instead you criticize the way the parents went about it? That’s just messed up.

BTW, this is from someone who cringes at the site of kids in nice restaurants, but is thankful for parents who make sure their kids behave as well as could be expected.

Oh, please. The one kid is 2 and the other is an infant and you’re criticising them for being held in laps? They’re babies, for Og’s sakes. And it doesn’t seem to me to be doing any damage since they were quiet and well-behaved.

Would that every kid in the world got that much loving attention at that age. :frowning:

From your comments, Hung, it’s clear what can happen to those who aren’t “coddled much as a kid.”

FWIW, HungMung I’m mostly with you on this one. The purpose of rearing children is, from day one, to teach your kids to become independent adults. If those kids can only be kept quiet by being held, then those parents are in for a world of hurt. Kids can be allowed to be kids yet still begin learning how to comfort and control themselves. This is what rearing children is all about. A kid can be as loud and as rambunctious as they want while they are on the playground, but when they are in a restaurant, church, etc. they need to be still and be quiet and they need to learn how to manage that themselves. And if they’re too young to be able to handle themselves (or at least be making steps toward learning how-this, again, is where the parent comes in) in the situation they’re in…well, that’s what sitters are for.

I would think that you were the ogre the other posters are trying to make you feel you are if it weren’t for the fact that these people were *in a restaurant *trying to eat with other human beings placed between themselves and their food.

But what makes it even creepier is the fact that these kids were placed in the laps despite the fact that they weren’t fussy and apparently had no immediate desire to even be in the lap.

Yes, I have to agree, those people were a little strange.

Father of five here. This isn’t really odd or needy. Daddy’s lap is a good place for a little girl who is probably the only kid in the place aside from her infant sibling. It raises her up and stabilizes her so she can eat from the big table if she’s eating. It’s more comfortable, secure, and reassuring than a booster seat or high chair. It says that her parents still care about her even though they’ve brought her to a wierd place where there are no other kids, no playground, no bright friendly colors or cartoon characters.


Meh . . . what works, works. The parents did what’s necessary to keep the kids quiet in an alien environment. Good for them, and everyone around them too.

When our kids were that age, they sat at their places during the meal. When they were done (almost always before the Mrs. and I were done), they would climb into our laps. This allowed us to have a nice leisurely meal, including wine and coffee afterward, while amusing the kids quietly in or laps. It’s amazing how long a little kid will play quietly with a spoon and a salad fork with just a little attention from a parent.

I remember when our kids were six and three. We took them to a “nicer” restaurant on New Year’s Eve - the type of place reserved for “date night”, but this was a special occasion. We ate at 6 pm, very early for New Year’s.

I still remember the look of disdain we got from the folks who came in after us and who were seated at the table next to us. They clearly expected our kids would ruin their New Year’s party, going so far as to ask for a different table (none were available). What happened? Our kids behaved exceptionally well, and had better table manners than the grownups next to us. We finished our meal, paid the bill and left. I tipped a wink and a smile to the most disdainful-looker on our way out.

As a parent I am amazed how my decision to have children and to have these children experience various social situations has inconvenienced so many.

If the restaurant has a children’s menu - expect kids.

If the children are well behaved and don’t disrupt your dinner be happy - not confused.

You don’t like kids and so I can’t say your “two-ish” judgement of age is accurate but I have a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old. The high chairs most restaurants provide don’t give enough support or height for really young children to sit up and eat at the table effectively. The booster seats provided do not strap to the chairs and tend to slide if the kids wiggle. My lap was often the easier and safer place for my kids to sit since most of my fellow diners didn’t really want me to bring a stroller or alternative chair into the restaurant. I’ve also experienced the high chair with broken straps or the no high chairs available at the moment issues.

At 4 my daughter can sit in an adult sized chair at an adult sized table and eat with her fork like a human. At 20 months my son cannot. I’m hardly coddling my children and work very hard to make them into independant, confident people. Giving them proper support so they can eat their dinner is hardly going to imede that progress. If these people had school age children I could understand the questions but they have an infant and a toddler.

What’s wrong with it is it’s spoiling them rotten. Sure, they were nice and quiet while they were on Mommy’s and Daddy’s laps. I suspect if Mommy and Daddy had refused, it would have been a very different scene. They are being taught that adults’ lives and activities, and the universe as a whole, are all about them. Grownups are not entitled to have so much as a meal without paying attention to them. When they’re too old for lap sitting, I predict it’s going to get really ugly.

You have GOT to be kidding. A TWO YEAR OLD AND AN INFANT?? I don’t even know how to respond to this. :rolleyes:

They’re babies! A two YO and an infant! When did we get this idea that affection and attention is such a bad thing?

Did the place have high chairs that would have worked for these two?

The very fist thing infants learn is how to get what they want by screaming and crying. Surely you don’t think they’re incapable of deliberately manipulating their parents by pitching a fit if they don’t get their way. Granted, the thought process isn’t sophisticated - but they know it works. Certainly by the age of two it’s not a huge mental feat.

They were doing what works for them. Obviously, you weren’t. I suggest you stick to places that aren’t “family” type restaurants, or eat later when children are less likely to be there.

They do this because they don’t have the language skills to say “excuse me, Mother, but I am starving to death and don’t have the cognitive ability to realize this isn’t really true but it sure feels like it in my belly.”

They actually will cry and fuss less if the parents are more responsive to their cries contrary to what most adults believe. When babies learn there is a loving caregiver out there who responds to their needs they are more confident that they will be taken care of and don’t cry and scream as much.

Eventually as they gain language skills they don’t scream and cry at all but babble and gesture and eventually speak their needs. The meltdowns you see are more often kids pushed past their breaking points by parents who ignored all the other cues the kids have been sending for the past half hour than kids who are manipulating their parents with their wicked ways.