Beyond swearing allegiance to the Taliban, the quickest way to make yourself a social pariah in America is to take a baby to a restaurant. Only on airplanes, and, perhaps, movie theatres are infants more loathed. I've seen servers argue with hostesses after getting a baby-centric family seated in their section. Once, for no apparent reason, I witnessed a waiter passive-aggressively kick the stroller that we had placed behind our table. Not that I can blame him...

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The Meltdown

Beyond swearing allegiance to the Taliban, the quickest way to make yourself a social pariah in America is to take a baby to a restaurant. Only on airplanes, and, perhaps, movie theatres are infants more loathed. I’ve seen servers argue with hostesses after getting a baby-centric family seated in their section. Once, for no apparent reason, I witnessed a waiter passive-aggressively kick the stroller that we had placed behind our table. Not that I can blame him…


Among various other infractions, here she is blatantly squeezing the Charmin.

Beyond swearing allegiance to the Taliban, the quickest way to make yourself a social pariah in America is to take a baby to a restaurant. Only on airplanes, and, perhaps, movie theatres are infants more loathed. I’ve seen servers argue with hostesses after getting a baby-centric family seated in their section. Once, for no apparent reason, I witnessed a waiter passive-aggressively kick the stroller that we had placed behind our table. Not that I can blame him. Ninety-nine percent of babies don’t belong in restaurants, and they deserve to be seated way in the back where they can do this all they want. That’s where we, as gun-shy parents, want to be anyway.

But Down Under, you bring a baby with you to a restaurant and you become the most popular people in the place. Everyone wants to see the kid, make her laugh, take her back to their table and feed her steak. It may be the easiest way to endear yourselves to Australian strangers, particularly when you’re Americans, who are not terribly endearing to non-Americans. Or other Americans, for that matter.

If you don’t have a baby of your own, I highly recommend borrowing one for this purpose.

We’ve got one of our own, and we’ve been taking advantage of her popularity a lot lately—but tonight we pushed it too far. We took Hannah to a funky Aboriginal restaurant on Lygon Street for dinner, despite all of the following warning signs beforehand that it would be a disaster.

  1. It was late.
  2. She hadn’t had a nap.
  3. She was hungry and there was nothing on the menu she would eat.
  4. The room was quiet and more dignified than, say, Applebee’s.
  5. Her only entertainment was a couple of books that a week ago she had stopped reading and started eating.

Yet, in our hubris, we still thought the evening would be a success, because our perfect child had always risen to the occasion, and besides: This is Australia! They love kids!

We are idiots.

Seems we picked the one restaurant on the block where babies are not welcome. No one told us to get out or anything, but, to steal a phrase from my father-in-law, we got stares colder than a witch’s teat in the Klondike. They gave us a table that was partially under a staircase.

Not helping matters was our sluggish waitress, who seemed to have dropped acid a half hour before coming to work. She was so whacked out that every time she passed our table and we asked for something, she stared at us like she had never seen us before. The very presence of a baby at our table seemed to increase her paranoia. About 20 minutes after we sat down, Hannah started wailing. The Space Cadet Waitress’s response was to hide in the kitchen.

It was a painful catch-22. The longer we waited, the louder Hannah wailed. The louder she wailed, the less likely it became that the waitress would return. We began to wonder if she’d just given up and gone home. Eventually, Hannah calmed down and a different server brought out a plate of sausages made of emu, kangaroo, and wallaby, all of which tasted more or less like wild boar. There was also something called a “carpetbag steak” with oysters in it, which I loved. But Hannah started freaking out again, and Sarah and I played rock-paper-scissors to see who had to take the delirious kid out of the restaurant. As always, I lost.

When I got outside, the area in front of the restaurant was packed with police cars and ambulances and looky-loos surrounding someone who had suffered a heart attack right there on the sidewalk. Hannah was screeching so loudly, most of them turned their attention to us instead of the guy on the ground. Her meltdown continued and intensified even as they loaded him into the ambulance. The guy looked dead, and for a moment, I wanted to be him. That ambulance looked really quiet.

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6 years ago
Posted by Roscoe434

Children in restaurants should be seen and NEVER heard. There IS nothing more annoying than to have a meal enjoyed in public ruined by a ranting child and parents how could care less. I guess THEY believe they have every right to be there as anyone else. Well this is NOT true. Keep your misbehaved children at home. If YOU want to go out to enjoy a meal, hire a sitter.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Wow Roscoe434, having a bad day?!

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Roscoe434, I'm going out to dinner tonight, will you babysit my kids?

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Can you imagine getting stuck next to Roscoe on an airplane if you were traveling with wee ones??? Yikes!

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

@roscoe434, thanks for the reminder. We, as parents, are aware of fellow diners. And, we also don't like it when selfish parents (or ones that can't get a sitter) bring their louder than normal children to a 'nicer' restaurant.

But, I am a little tired of your type who were probably abused as children and cannot have children yourselves because you are gay, and instead, have loud yapping dogs.

Don't take it out on us breeders, as our children will be paying for what little social security you may be getting.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Well, technically, parents with obnoxious kids do have just as much right as anyone else to be in a restaurant, but common courtesy does dictate that a screaming child should be taken outside.

Although my kids are too old to throw tantrums, rants like Roscoe's make me want to borrow a screaming baby so I can go sit in an eating establishment and smile menacingly at all the Roscoes. I myself am annoyed by drunk sports fans and old men talking 10 decibels too loudly about their political views in restaurants. I think I'll go find their blogs right now and give them a good spanking.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

roscoe434 seems to forget that children are little humans...not some alien creatures plaguing the planet. I am always amazed how those who have lived beyond childhood are so repulsed by it. Grow up, roscoe434. You're an adult and should be able to control your self a bit more than you did when you were, say, 2 years old.

6 years ago
Posted by Anonymous

Poor Roscoe434. Picked the wrong message boards to go on an anti-child rant.

While I don't share his anger, I can see his point. Before I had kids, I dreaded seeing them in restaurants, on planes, or anywhere else other than playgrounds. But, really, when I explored it, what was my objection? I suppose I got a sick thrill out of being pissed at someone for ruining my dinner. It gave me a temporary moment of feeling superior to the kids' parents, who I imagined were lazy and selfish and none of the things I would be when I was a parent.

Now I know better.

To the Roscoes out there: It's just a restaurant. It's not your office, nor a house of worship or your bedroom. A restaurant is a place for people to socialize and enjoy themselves. Kids, adults, teenagers, whatever - everyone is welcome. Maybe this is one of the things that makes Australia so fun; it's welcoming in a way that America, populated by Roscoes, isn't.

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