Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Open letter to the sorry-ass parents behind me at dinner tonight...

Dear Sir and Madam:

First, before I go into any of this, I want you to know that I am a parent also. My children are all teenagers now, but I DO remember what it was like when they were little.

As my family and I entered the Italian eatery this evening, I took into account how surprisingly busy they were for a Tuesday evening. I took into account that there was only ONE booth left open in the entire restaurant, and I took into account how much my husband prefers to sit at booths. But more importantly, I took into account how that open booth backed up to yours. You with your young preschool-aged child and baby.

As I mentioned before, I recall what it was like to take my very young children out to eat. It's difficult, I know. You feel like you can't go anywhere, because someone is always screaming or whining or jumping up and down on the booths... I know. I KNOW.

However, here's what I know that you apparently do not: No matter how many times you threaten a 4-year-old (and subsequently do not follow through on those threats), said 4-year-old is not going to sit down and finish his dinner. Let's take a look at a few of your "gems" from this evening, shall we?

Your threats:

Joshua Bryan Hart (name changed to protect the not so innocent)! If you don't sit down right now, you're going into time out when we get home!

Joshua Bryan Hart! If you don't eat your dinner right now, you're not going to get a special treat!

Joshua Bryan Hart! That's it! No more going out to dinner with mommy and daddy. No more Applebee's! No more Outback! No more Taco Bell! I mean it!

Are we seeing a pattern here? Idle threats. None of the consequences/promised rewards are immediate enough for the child to actually do what you want him to do. Beyond that, those were only three of the threats you used this evening. For the sake of brevity, I just couldn't add anymore. After 10 or so of these threats, Joshua Bryan Hart figured out that you weren't going to do JACK SHIT to him, and he continued to do whatever the hell he wanted to do. Which, by the way, included poking me in the back, smacking me in the back of the head, and generally pissing me off. The Farm Boy was careful, lucky for me (or probably luckier for YOU), to do a pizza sauce check on the back of my cream-colored blouse. Because that would have meant WAR.

I don't care how cute your child is... if he is annoying the people in the next booth, you make him stop. If he doesn't stop, you take his little ass out of the booth and/or out of the restaurant until he can sit down and finish his dinner. If he can't (which many children his age can't, considering the average attention span of a 4-year-old), then you cut short your dinner, take what's left home in a take-out box, and you leave the restaurant. Yes, I know. That's inconVENient for you. I know. Do you know how I know? Because that's what I DID when my children were unable to behave.

And guess what? THEY LEARNED HOW TO BEHAVE. Amazing, isn't it? Now, they're not the bestest little girls in the whole wide world, but they know what will happen when they disobey. They know, and they make choices. If they make the wrong choices, they have consquences. Immediate consequences. And if that means I'm inconvenienced still after all these years, then so be it. I'm still a parent. And I would NEVER be so inconsiderate as to allow my children to bother someone else in a restaurant. Crying, shouting children... I'll put up with that. Jumping up and down, screaming, poking-me-in-the-back, annoying children, annoying parents... no.

Oh, and when Joshua Bryan Hart is 13, and still doing whatever the hell he wants, it's going to be a lot worse than not eating his dinner or poking the head of the lady in the next booth. I'm just sayin'.

Grumpy K. Frump
aka The Lady in the booth behind you tonight who kept giving you that look that said, "Really? You're really going to continue threatening your child and not do ANYTHING? Do you see him poking me? Do you see my face? Does this look like a HAPPY face?" Yeah, that lady.


Gabrielle said...

I just can't wait for the moment Joshua Bryan Hart decides to wreck the family car because hey, what are they going to do? That'll be a joyous time. (And let's hope that's the LEAST dangerous thing he ever does.)

goldennib said...

This is why we have such wonderful gems walking around in the world...parents who don't want to be inconvenienced.

If you aren't going to parent, don't have kids.

If you have kids, be a %%^^%%&&^$^# parent, damnit.

Here's an idea: If you must go out in public with your lovely offspring, try bringing things along to keep your sweetness entertained, duh. Like the rest of us, they don't find your conversation scintillating.

hannah said...

Wow, JBH is a little bastard isnt he?

I used to be so deathly afraid of my parents when I was younger. This is going to sound like child abuse, but oh well.

If we ever misbehaved (me and my 3 siblings), we got threatened with "the Stick." The Stick turned out to be one of those flimsy wooden paddleball paddles, but we got a swift smack on the butt with it. No, this wasnt child abuse, just an alternative to spanking. It really didnt hurt so much as get the message through, and sting for a couple minutes.

When we got older and our respective butts got bigger and stronger, The Stick was no match for our hides, and it broke everytime we got our "punishment" wth it. Thereby, my parents didnt feel like shelling out the $1 to keep buying new torture devices.

So, the solution. In place of the paddle, they placed a hefty plank of 2x4. NO. We never got hit with it. But it served as a reminder to NEVER misbehave.

Wait, maybe this is child abuse. I'm calling the auhorities.

Jaek said...

Ironically, I just had to dicipline my son while I was reading this post. He wouldn't finish the glass of chocolate milk that he wanted. So I told him to either drink it, or give me a dollar and dump the rest down the drain. The logic being that milk costs money and he is not going to waste milk. To show I was serious, I made him give me his wallet and I removed one dollar. He quickly drank down the milk and now has his dollar back.

For those who don't know, my son is 6. almost.

Paisley said...

Oh, DCMM, there so way too many of these families out there right now.

Idle, idle, idle threats.

It is so annoying and frustrating.

Have no fear. I will not be one of those parents.

P.S. Jaek - that $1 thing is awesome.


-R- said...

This is why I avoid going out to dinner with my sister-in-law and her sons if at all possible. Except my sister-in-law and her husband don't even threaten. Their kids just run wild. It is so embarassing.

othur-me said...

I just got a telegram from Joshua Bryan Hart....its for you. It reads:

shut it, lady stop I got a good thing goin here stop and by the way, not everything I put my poking finger in is as easy to see as pizza sauce stop

wire said...

if i ever become a parent (or childcare worker) it'll be tazers galore. Tazers and a cage full of sewer rats in the corner, just in case we get past tazin' phase.

Stinkypaw said...

Too many parents forgot the meaning of the word no and even worst they forgot what respect meant! Kids figure out real soon, that idle treats are just that. I feel sorry for that kid... what a great person he will become with this lack of discipline! And what gets to me is those same parents, when JBH will turn "bad" will wonder "where did we go wrong?"

don't call me MA'AM said...

gabrielle: exACTly!

goldennib: I'm not entirely sure what these people were thinking, but I have a feeling they didn't know parenting would be so HARD! *stomping foot*

hannah: yikes! let me know how that turns out for you. ;-)

jaek: great idea! that's why you're the KING.

paisley: I KNOW you won't be like that. :-)

-r-: Ack! I wouldn't be able to keep my mouth shut if my siblings' kids were like that. I ALMOST said something to those people last night, and they were complete strangers.

othur-me: I KNOW! I was trying really hard to keep the OCD part of me quiet (germs, germs, they're everywhere!), and I succeeded just fine until you had to go and remind me. Gah.

wire: AHAHAHAHAAHAHA! That is so funny! Hmmm... maybe I'll just start carrying one around in my purse (a tazer, not a sewer rat) and then use it on the PARENTS who can't figure it out! Thanks for the great idea!

don't call me MA'AM said...

stinkypaw: yep. When I was a teacher, I heard that same thing over and over again from parents at conferences. Scary.

MiMaw said...

When I see kids misbehaving like that, I want to slap the parents, not the kids. So far Jaek has been lucky. (keep up the good work). I only had to give him the "look"...it usually worked because he knew what the alternative would be.

goldennib said...

Did you hear about the elderly lady (I forget where from) sued her neighbor because the neighbor's 14 year old son meowed at the elderly lady everytime she went out her door? She sued for harrassment and won (Good for her!) I so think parents should pay for what their children do.

goldennib said...

Did you hear about the elderly lady (I forget where from) sued her neighbor because the neighbor's 14 year old son meowed at the elderly lady everytime she went out her door? She sued for harrassment and won (Good for her!) I so think parents should pay for what their children do.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how many restaurants we deserted - there were times we'd just received our meals, and we had to ask for to go boxes. But I brought crayons and small electronic games and silly putty. We tried not to go to crowded places, so the kids wouldn't get too bored. And my kids learned the meaning of my tone of voice saying the words, "Do you need a trip to the bathroom?" They knew what I meant. I only had to say it to silence them.

Parents who are afraid to parent aren't doing anyone any favors - least of all that ill-behaved kid.

Oh and Jaek - dude, you are brilliant. Brilliant.

Margaret Ann said...

We use riddles, puzzles, I spy, crayons anything to get 'em still and then get the hell out of the restaurant. To some new-fangled parents "because I said so" is a dirty phrase, but it better be kept in your arsenal and still be lethal or your kids will walk all over you.

gunnlino said...

I know I'm late posting this, but,
Once I had it in a similar circumstance, went to the manager and told him I would pay for their meal and a very good tip for the staff if he would ask them and their dirtyneck brats to leave, he asked, they refused and Daddy gets in a snit and wants to fight me. So we, party of 6 adults left w/o dining.

3carnations said...

-R- sent me over here to read this post after reading my post about going out to eat with my two year old son's friend and the friend's parents. The friend was a lot like the child you describe, but no warnings were given. They just let him do what he wanted. The only person who even remotely suggested that he sit back down was my two year old son.

I know what you mean about leaving when behavior is out of hand and idle threats. Even with our two year old, we follow through. He is learning that. He may complain about it for the next couple of hours, but he is learning that we don't back down once a decision has been made.