An open letter to fellow diners from the parent of the “bad” kid

Dear Fellow Diners,

Yes, you. I can feel your eyes on my table. I only ask that you think before you glare. How do I know you’re glaring? The look in your face and in your eyes is one that is all too familiar to me, and I assume any other parent with normal-which means at times misbehaved- children.

When my family planned to go out to eat for this meal, it was certainly not in the plans to have a kid act unruly and loud. Just like everyone else, we’d hoped to have a pleasant unrulydining experience, just like you. Unfortunately, life isn’t perfect, and things don’t always go the way you planned. I’m sure you can relate to that on some level.

I truly do feel bad that my child absolutely LOST it right after your entree arrived. The last thing any parent ever wants is for their kid to have a meltdown in the middle of a restaurant; really the last thing any parent ever wants is for their kid to have a meltdown ANYWHERE that has witnesses, but life is funny like that, isn’t it? Kids would love the world to revolve around them and their attitudes, but if we allow that, what does that teach them in the end?

Yes, I feel bad; embarrassed; apologetic even, but what doesn’t help is the dirty looks you’re sending my way. I know they’re dirty because I’ve seen them SO many times before. They’re the look of disapproval; how dare my child act out in public! There are other people trying to eat! They’re the look of frustration, and anger- because to you, my child is ruining your meal by making a noise that is deemed annoying and disturbing. The look in your eyes says that you wish my kid would shut-up; you wish we’d leave so you could enjoy the peace and quiet; you wish I would at LEAST take my kid outside until they learned to be quiet.

Those looks? They don’t help. I realize it’s not your responsibility to ‘help’ my situation, but the last thing a parent needs when their child has gone hyper-sonic is dirty looks from strangers who think, like our children, that the world revolves around them.

I don’t mean to be rude, but like you, I am frustrated by this situation. Frustrated because not everything can be solved by stepping outside. Frustrated because I’m just trying to do the right thing and I have judgy eyes on me. Frustrated because I’m already frustrated and just knowing that the people around my family are whispering that my kids are bad and how they think I should be handling the situation frustrates me even more. Frustrated because it seems like all the prying eyes, deep sighs, and whispering come from people who have forgotten that they were once kids who occasionally threw fits in public, too. Frustrated because somewhere down the line, it became wrong for kids to act like kids. Frustrated because just like you, I want my kid to behave- but it’s a process.

When you are exhausted, frustrated, angry, irritable, bored, scared, confused- can you calm down in 20 seconds flat? If so, you should write a book on how; I’m sure every human on earth could benefit from your knowledge. My kids are still learning about their emotions and how to control them. They have good days and bad days. Both good and bad is a part of the process, and unfortunately, it seems as though you are a part of that process today.

Did you ever think maybe this is a part of YOUR process?

I’m not condoning “bad” behavior by children, and I will continue to do my best to teach mine how to handle themselves in public, but if you’re spending a meal huffing and puffing, pointing and groaning, complaining and getting angry about the outburst of a small child- maybe you could stand to learn a little from this situation, too.

Think about it, and if we ever meet again, hopefully everyone will be better behaved. If not, please just stop with the looks. They’re not helping anyone.


The parents with the crying “bad” kid

Posted on June 2, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 3 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • Thank you for writing this amazing blog. I too feel the judgemental looks if I bring my kids out to a restaurant or public function with adults. My son has a sensory condition and I do everything in my power to make him comfortable and keep an eye on his anxiety level. It results in me shoveling my food in my face, while encouraging his brother and my husband to do so. Sometimes I can get through unscathed with little or no backlash. Then other times it’s everything about the situation that sends my son into sensory overload!!! Thank you for being one of those awesome parents that gets it and for describing exactly how I feel when the huffy puffy people glare my way.

  • I’ve been on both sides of this.

    And, depending on the type of “bad” behavior Emry is having.. it’s either corrected at the table.. or we take a walk to the bathroom. If it’s super bad, we pack up and go home.

    But, it is a case by case basis.

    I’ve gotten the looks for him being bad, but, probably just like you, you’ve probably been also used as the example “See he/she is eating and being quiet, why can’t you?”

    (Sorry, this is long)

    But, I’ve caught the dirty looks.. and I stare at them. I stare directly back at those people, until they realize that they are being watched. I have spoken back, I have gotten confrontational… “I’m sure you’re a perfect parent” “If you can do better, please come join our table.”
    I’ve also been apologetic. For me, also, it is a case by case basis, of how I react.

    People are self entitled.
    People think the world revolves solely around them. (As you stated)

    But, I rather you (the huffer puffers in the booth next to me) actually say something TO ME, than to whisper and chide like pussies. If you are going to judge, at least have the balls to say it so I can hear you.

    Just my two cents.

  • LOL @ Kateri! Same here. Now that my dd is 15, I’ve realized I’m giving the huffers and moaners dirty looks, and so is she! We agreed we would rather hear a child cry than a parent who sounds like they sprung a leak.