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?
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.