In The News
Keep Your Kid Away From My Date Night
As my husband and I get ready to celebrate our 15th anniversary, I'm really looking forward to spending a special date night away from home. Typically, when August 18 rolls around, my husband makes reservations at one of our favorite restaurants (last year it was One if By Land, Two if By Sea) and we get the chance to rekindle the spark we once had before kids, work and the daily grind got between us.
Unfortunately, these days, there seems to be a wrinkle to our date nights. While our kids are safe at home with a sitter, the couple sitting directly across from us have no qualms about bringing their tantrum-ing toddler to the restaurant too. Though I'm sure those new parents have no clue about how rude that move is, let me share a little blast from my past.
About 13 years ago, my hubby and I had a favorite Italian restaurant that we'd frequent nearly every week during my nine month pregnancy. The moment we'd arrive, we'd be welcomed with open arms and at times, the waiter knew exactly what I wanted to order before I even flagged him down. When Rebecca was born, we still returned to the restaurant and luckily, she would sleep soundly in her car seat while we dined on foccacia bread and penne with vodka sauce. But the moment she was able to fit into a high chair, all bets were off.
The moment we'd arrive at the restaurant, my daughter whined, or wailed or threw things to get her way. And let me tell you, while the owner originally wanted to adopt my husband and I, by the third and final time we brought our two year old to the restaurant, we were suddenly met with the cold shoulder. So much so that on one occasion, they purposely told us there would be a long wait just so that they didn't have to suffer through a crying or whining jag.
I remember those days well when I'd say to my husband how rude I thought other people were for not letting our child dine at the restaurant along with us. But let's be real - at two years old, your child is not dining with you, she's throwing cheerios at you or eating crayons or squirming out of her chair so that she can make a break for it.
After that last go round at the Italian restaurant, I vowed never to put my daughter through that experience again. And I didn't. Instead, my daughter grew up on plenty of family-dining locales until she reached an age where she could join us for a special dinner. My son also got in on the action and these days, when they are with us at an upscale restaurant, they're the ones who complain when someone brings their baby there too. I mean, we pay good money to dine out - why have our parade rained on by a sea of babies?
Another beef that I've got is with the people who bring their two year old to a movie theater and expect them to stay quiet during the film. Last week, my mom and I had the opportunity to catch an advanced screening of "The Help" - which incidentally, is fabulous. As we sat through the movie, a tiny voice erupted a few rows ahead of us. A mother had decided to bring her baby to the movies and as people started giving the mom a hard time because her child would not shut up, she decided to continue to keep her in theaters, disrupting scores of patrons in her wake.
Honestly, I feel that movie theaters should not allow parents to bring children under the age of three years old into a film even if it's rated G. Movies cost a boat load of money and when you bring your little one into a theater and they spontaneously combust, you've just ruined the experience not only for yourself, but everyone else. In fact, we were tempted to hunt that woman with the baby down and ask her to give us our money back. By the time the film had ended, she was nowhere to be found.
As for restaurants my advice is simple -- stay away from romantic restaurants until your child is at an age where they won't throw their food or scream every time you attempt to have a conversation with your spouse. Better yet, find a sitter and go out without them. They'll be happy because they're not confined to a high chair and you'll be psyched because you'll actually have some time to yourselves.
If you can't find someone to watch your child, then head to a kid friendly restaurant with decent food (our personal fave is California Pizza Kitchen), give them crayons and a placemat and have them go to town. Trust me, the movie and restaurant experience gets better as your kids get older. The only thing that gets worse is having to decide whether a film is appropriate for your child - but that's a can of worms we'll tackle another day.