Crimes of tantrum at Applebee’s

September 24, 2013

We were trying to enjoy our green bean crispers with spicy dip at the Falls Church Applebee’s, but the dude was distracting.

Shouts. Guffaws. Obscenities. He’d switch from cursing at the football game on the big screen to sucking down his beer. And then he made a really loud phone call that everyone in the restaurant heard.

Would someone call the cops on him? My kids are trying to read and play Lego quietly while waiting on our main course! Why can’t he just go do this in his livingroom? I swear. These adults sometimes. Isn’t there anyone around to control him?

Our sweet waitress agreed that the bar area is usually the loudest part of the restaurant. “It can get a little rowdy,” she said. But she’s never called the police for backup at Applebee’s. And she couldn’t believe that her colleagues in Katy, Texas did that on Sunday night, when the sheriff was called to remove a family with two rowdy toddlers.

“Once there was a family with two little kids and they were throwing food at each other. And a piece of hamburger landed on someone else’s table,” she cringed. “The manager came and asked the couple to calm their children down. But I can’t imagine calling the police for that.”

Ah yes, kids in restaurants. The topic always gets people’s blood boiling. Last week, it was a letter than went viral written by a talk radio host in Lexington, KY, Matt Walsh, that addressed someone dissing a mom whose kid was throwing a tantrum in a grocery store.  “Dear parents, you need to control your kids, Sincerely, Non-parents”, struck a nerve.

This week, it’s the weekend Applebee’s arrest, which divided the nation into folks who fist-pumped the swift action to get rid of the brats who were bumming on their mozzarella stick bliss and the parents who were horrified that anyone would do such a thing to little angels.

Here’s the thing. People are annoying. If the loud dude at the bar, the chatty chickie in the both next to you or the kid arguing with his mom over mac and cheese are clouding the personal Valhalla you believe you’re entitled to in a vinyl-booth restaurant, then please stay home. If you don’t have kids, I’m sorry, but you once were a kid and I’m sure you weren’t perfect. And if your kids are grown, congratulations. Please don’t think you did it any better than us. You forget. You have to in order to go on.

And parents, we should be embarrassed and moving into Defcon-1 when our children reach that horrid level of screaming, tantruming and kvetching in a restaurant. Apologize profusely to those around you and take your kid outside. When sitting for two hours while the grandparents slurp mimosas because they are “taking us out to brunch” wasn’t my toddlers’ idea of fun, I wolfed down a bite or two and we went outside to chase bugs in the dirt or walk up and down the sidewalk. We did this at scores of restaurants in dozens of cities. I hated it then.

Forcing your screaming children on a restaurant gives all of us a bad name and trust me, your kids are screaming because they are miserable. Give in. If they’re old enough, give them the iPad, let them play Cut the Rope on your phone for a few minutes. It won’t kill them and it saves all of us. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. I know you just. Want. A minute. To. Eat. ONE MINUTE!

But it goes by fast, and soon, you’ll be asking them to get their nose out of the Percy Jackson book and engage with the waiter. And you’ll have to explain to them that no, you can’t do anything about the loud dude at the bar who is distracting them.

 

 

 

 

 

Petula is a columnist for The Washington Post's local team who writes about homeless shelters, gun control, high heels, high school choirs, the politics of parenting, jails, abortion clinics, mayors, modern families, strip clubs and gas prices, among other things.
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Tom Jackman · September 24, 2013