The other day I took myself out to lunch; something I really enjoy. I always bring a book, and read while enjoying my meal. Of course I like going out to lunch with friends or with the Crankee Yankee, but sometimes I just like to dine on my own.
So there I was, reading happily, eating my favorite salad and a lemonade. The restaurant was fairly empty, so it was peaceful with a low murmur of conversations from some of the tables. Perfect—until The Kid showed up.
The Kid was brought in by his parents, along with what appeared to be his older brother and sister, and what looked to be the grandparents. There were plenty of empty tables and booths, but of course, they were seated in a booth a few feet away from me.
Now I don’t hate kids, really I don’t. But what I do not like is when parents bring the little ones into a restaurant that is not a McDoo’s or Burger Boy or Schmendy’s; you get the picture. Those places are perfect for families, especially one with little kids. When you go there, you expect that it will be noisy.
But when you are in a fairly nice restaurant that is usually for adults, you expect a bit of peace and quiet. I’m sure that the adults who brought in The Kid were looking forward to a more adult atmosphere than the usual kid places. I thought, ‘oh, well, the adults will keep the kids quiet.’ Still, I braced myself for what I was pretty sure what was going to happen, and sure enough, it did.
The Kid, who appeared to be about two years old, *shrieked, screamed and hooted like a howler monkey non-stop. The father tried to keep him calm by saying, “no, no, buddy—no screaming,” and “no, no, buddy—no shrieking,” to absolutely no avail. No one else at the table seemed to notice or care. For the few seconds that The Kid was not shrieking, screaming or hooting, he was rolling around on the floor, in the way of the waitress and a few customers.
The waitress nearly stepped on him a few times, because evidently no one thought to pick The Kid up and get him off the dang floor. I was about five feet away from all this, and was trying to ignore The Kid and his ear-shattering screams, and not shoot his family dirty looks.
Look, I waitressed my way through college, so I know what it’s like to put up with all kinds of people and still be pleasant and courteous. The poor girl waiting on this little shop of horrors had to have been counting the minutes when they would leave, but to her credit she kept her composure.
I knew that there would be no more peace for me, so I finished up what was once a nice lunch in a hurry so that I could give my ears a rest. I understand that restaurants want to make their customers happy, and they also want to fill the restaurant. More people = more money; I get it. But as one who really enjoys eating alone, I would love it if there could be a “quiet corner” or just a “no kid” section in restaurants. But I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.
What I really I don’t get is why, when little kids are acting up, parents don’t just flag down their server and ask for their meals to be boxed to go, and then GO. I understand that parents of young children need to get out of the house now and then, but seriously, if your kid is going to yell and scream all through the meal and you are ignoring it, the rest of us can’t.
*Those who have experienced “kid shriek” will understand how penetrating it is; sort of like having hot lava poured into your ears without the hope that the lava will eventually cool off.