The other night my husband and I were out to dinner without the children (yes, it was wonderful...thanks to my great in-laws!). We were at a restaurant/bar at the beach and almost all of the tables were filled with adults only...except one table in the corner (maybe they strategically put that family in the corner because they had a child). It looked like a couple with their little boy that was about a year and a half old and a set of grandparents. The dinner started out peacefully enough. I was just enjoying my time away from the kids and hardly paying any attention to the table in the corner.
Then I saw the little boy out of the corner of my eye as I was setting down my 2nd pint of beer. He had clearly lost interest in his little bowl of snacks. Obviously, he's getting to the age where sitting endlessly eating excessive amounts of puffs or cheerios is just not an option. So as he began to go into a tantrum, I caught the eye of the mother. She was lifting him out of the highchair as he was arching his back and screaming. We made brief eye contact and in that couple of seconds, I tried to convey to her that I understood her pain. I wanted to go over and say, "It's okay, I have 3 kids and I understand." I wanted her to know that we were not some fancy free couple out for a night of partying like it was our normal nightly routine. We were usually in the same predicament as her...except times 3 (even though we try to avoid this situation by forgoing restaurants altogether these days). I really did feel bad for her.
Then I am assuming her mother (the child's grandmother) asked the mom if she liked the wine that they ordered. I heard the mom snap back, "I haven't even had a chance to try it yet." She was getting very frustrated. Still, I felt bad for her...but another part of me was thinking, why did you even take him out of the highchair? Now you will never be able to put him back in without an even bigger tantrum. I was also thinking, if you are this frustrated with the one, PLEASE do not have more.
So as the crying continued at that table, we promptly finished our drinks and paid they bill. I was not annoyed by the crying, but I was in no mood to listen to that when I hear it on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis at home. I am all for taking kids to restaurants...and to be honest with you, I love being out without my kids and seeing suckers at other tables trying to keep their little ones happy and quiet. But sometimes I have to think, why do parents even bother? Is going out to eat so imperative that you must bring your child who clearly has no interest in sitting in a restaurant unless there is a clown making balloon animals or doing tricks for them personally throughout the meal?
After paying our bill that evening, we checked in with my in-laws and got the report that they kids were fine. So...we moved to the bar area and had a few more drinks while the happy hour prices were still in effect (I have never been one to turn down a good deal when I see one).
Have you ever been out to dinner without your children and seen someone else with kids? Did you feel bad for them or just think "thank god we got out alone!"?