Adventures in Getting a Table at a Restaurant


Recently I had the experience of taking both of my wee ones (Four and three respectively) to dinner by myself. And I lived.

We actually had fun. There was no debris field. No super embarrassing moments. No yelling. No screaming. No wanting to look around and say “Do these children have a mother? Where did she go?” while backing away and hoping nobody remembered they came in with me. I was proud.

Then at a weekly dinner with friends my kids actually behaved likes humans

That got me thinking about all of the times in the past four years (every other time actually) they didn’t. I mean really didn’t. Times when things went horribly sideways. And it especially made me think of the times when it simply wasn’t my kid’s fault.

I’m talking to you restaurant hosts and hostesses. Yeah you. What about two children that require highchairs makes you loose all sense? Why does your brain turn off when you see someone with two kids under three? Because it does. It does every time.

The minute we had the second kid, things started getting interesting every time we would try to go out to eat. To the point my husband and I started making bets on what kind of ridiculous seating arrangement we were going to find ourselves in.

It was most infuriating when the restaurants weren’t busy. Crowded and “Hey Lady if you want to eat tonight this IS your option” is one thing. And we get that. Even without kids you can end up in less than ideal seating arrangements. But half a restaurant with empty tables and some of the crap they tried…Just no.

First, let me show you an ideal seating arrangement for parents with two infants attempting to pay for and consume a meal in a commercial establishment.

Please excuse my lack of artistic talent and that both my baby bottles and baby rattles looks strangely like penises.

YES!

The Ideal

The perfect family with two small children eating arrangement.

The Ideal

This involves four people regardless of chairs or highchairs and a 4 top table.

Notice how Mom and Dad both have room and both children have a spot at the table. The children are separated (otherwise known as a DMZ). Both parents have access to both children.

Not guaranteed to ensure a perfect meal (there are tiny humans involved) but it does increase your chance of success significantly.

The Acceptable Arrangement

Not perfect. Mom still gets the short end of the stick. But we can work with this.

Workable

Another acceptable arrangement, less ideal but very manageable, is shown to the left.

It involves a 4 top booth, four people and one high chair.

Notice how everyone still has a place to sit. Mom is a little cramped and now solely responsible for one of the children. But the DMZ is still in place and for the most part this works.

 

See. 1+1+1+1 = 4. Four people at a four top. Seems simple.

NO!NO!NOOOOOO!

Now for a few of the most common ways the host/hostess failed us entirely.

This is what happens when you shove four people regardless of size into a two person booth.

4 people in a 2 person booth

Yep. Happened more than once. Now normally that math doesn’t work right. But apparently in restaurant host math 1 + 1+ 1+ 1 = 2.

Notice how Mom and Dad are cramped. There isn’t enough space on the table for everyone’s plates. And most importantly the toddler is now cramped.

THIS IS NOT GOOD.

Unhappy toddlers are never good. Why host person would you inflict this upon someone? The baby is fine, but the little human without a concept of social norms or appropriate behavior who can throw things and use its little lungs as weapons is not happy. Now no one within a hundred yards of this kid is happy.

 

NO DMZ!

For freaking real people. You expect them not to touch each other?

2 highchairs at any booth

It gets better when neither child is in a carrier. The lack of DMZ becomes an issue here. Usually things get thrown, children beat the hell out of each other. Screaming and shouting sometimes happen. Cursing even. Pretending they aren’t your kids and walking away might occur. (Just kidding. Maybe).

It doesn’t matter how big the booth is either. If it is a four person booth, at least Mom and Dad have room to retreat and cower. But still. Why?

Save your booth. We will wait for a table. Please don’t ignore us when we say that.

If you wouldn’t ask an adult to sit like that, don’t ask my kids to.

And don’t say put one in the booth with you. The restraint system in the highchair is necessary for the safety of everyone in the restaurant if two children under three are sitting at the same table. Period. Regardless of the number of adults.

As I mentioned above we have a standing weekly dinner with a large group of friends. Have since before we had our munchkins. (God Bless them all). The group can range from 6 to 11 people. So if restaurant host math can’t handle 1 + 1+1+1, you can only imagine what happens when you add that many people to the mix. This math is doomed. And so is everyone at the table.

Invariably this happens. You tell them 2 children and 8 adults. They give you a table for 8. Sometimes you will get lucky and get a table for 9 but usually just 8. We even tried just saying 10 people with two high chairs. Nope. Still get a table for 8.

Dear restaurant Host/Hostess, Do my children not count as people? Because let me show you what happens when you seat people this way.

Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

Where is Patrick Swayze when I need him?

Nobody puts baby in a corner

Notice how Mom is ANGRY. This is usually not a good thing.

She is wedged between two children who are going to be needy. They are going to reach into her plate and eat, throw, or smear her food. She is not going to get to eat. Believe me, she gave up on having adult conversation whenever her children are present no matter the configuration a long time ago. But she does occasionally get to eat. But not like this she won’t. She may end up screaming and crying more than the kids.  Not only is she not getting to eat or have an adult conversation while she is being attacked from both sides,she has to watch as other people do get to eat and have a conversation. IT JUST AIN’T FAIR PEOPLE!

Notice the poor sucker that got the seat across from Dad. These aren’t his kids. But his dinner is ruined anyway because there will be little baby hands in his food and kid crud smeared down his sleeve regardless.

Dad isn’t happy because Mom isn’t happy. (Although he will never volunteer to take the seat between kids. Oh Hell No!) He knows whats coming when they get to the car. And he has a kid clawing through his dinner and using his sleeve as a napkin too.

The illustration assumes happy babies. If they turn on you…well I can’t. I just can’t. It is too awful for words.

Everyone else at the table is wondering why they keep inviting the people with kids.All they talk about is their kids now anyway.  They aren’t even interesting anymore. But for some reason someone keeps inviting them hoping they will have some sense and decline the invite. For God’s sake, couldn’t they just stay at home.

When you have a large group, you take for granted that the service will be terrible and slow. Orders will probably be wrong. Nobody will have anything to drink 15 minutes into the 2 hour ordeal. But being wedged between two infants pawing at you like starved zombies just makes you want to hurt people. Adults closest to you or delivering your food are usually in the most danger. Nobody wants to be any of these people. And nobody wants to be near this table. And it all comes back to the host or hostess.

Incredibly there were occasions where we were placed at a table where even the adults were going to have to sit at the corners. This meant there was literally nowhere to put the kids. We usually asked to be moved to a bigger table.

On one of these occasions when the place was completely empty and it happened anyway,  I may or may not have asked the host if he could count to freaking 10. I might have madly waved my baby in his carrier at the man and asked him “Where the hell do you propose I put this?” I might have lifted my toddler by an arm and said “What about this?”

I might have asked “Do they count as people?” Followed by a “What in the hell is wrong with you.” I might have really embarrassed my husband which is pretty hard to do.  But I shouldn’t have to ask. This is math. Basic freaking addition. Taught everywhere. All countries and languages. HOW HARD IS THIS?

10 people will not fit into a 6 top. 10 people and 2 toddlers certainly won’t. Come on people.

Let’s put the kids in the middle of the table like a Thanksgiving Turkey and watch the show.

Just remember when you feel a little inkling of faith in humanity that somewhere on this planet someone thinks this is OK.

Again. WTF?

WTF?

Yep. We will just put the kids in the middle of the table next to the chips and salsa. What could go wrong?

So hosts and hostesses everywhere, from a frazzled Mom of two small children who just wants to eat a dinner I didn’t cook without having little hands encroaching from both sides and leaving with both sleeves smeared in food I paid for and didn’t get to eat, don’t do these things.Please. For the love of God or whatever you find holy.

Kids are people. They unfortunately require space. Adults wouldn’t react well to these situations. Why do you expect people who can’t yet poop in a toilet to react well?

So stop with your strange and twisted psychology experiment (I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt here). Help parents out.

Use real math.

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