How to Be a Dad

How to Be a Dad

The DON’Ts of Waiting on Tables of Families

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The Don'ts of Waiting on Family Tables

There is an art to waiting tables. It is a dying art. It’s certainly a really a hard job, but there are tricks to it. To make it not be so awful.

Everyone knows it must be a gruesome task to wait on tables that contain kids, but I’m a parent, so I’m not writing about the woes of food servers here. Servers can pretty gruesome, too. So, I’m writing this as a waiter’s or waitress’ guide to not being demonic togiving good service todealing withsurviving one of the toughest customers they’ll ever wait on: a family. These won’t apply to all kids but I’m sure you’ll see the obvious good sense of playing it safe.

DON’T forget all of the napkins…

Right away, as soon as everyone’s butts hit chair, thump down a massive stack of napkins and you’ll see parents’ faces light up like it was money. Don’t worry about waste, they will all be put to good use. Or horrific use depending on how you want to put it.

DON’T humiliate older kids…

A high chair or play mat and crayons will probably not be needed if a kid has their own smartphone or looks too heavy for a lumberjack to easily carry, so don’t ask. Dining out with kids is hard enough without adding awkward embarrassment into their moods.

DON’T take foooooreeever…

Get a friggin’ move on! This may seem unfair and preferential, but it’s honestly in the best interests of the restaurant and everyone in it, and the entire surrounding block. If you decide to take a break mid-service, you might also want fill out a will while you’re at it.

DON’T try to be a detective…

Of course you’re trying to be helpful, you’re just really really unlikely to actually be at all helpful. Unless asked, you probably just want to leave the Great Mystery of the Kid’s Illusive Appetite to the mom, dad and Scooby-Doo.

DON’T baby- or close-talk…

Jamming your schnoz into a child’s face or baby-talking to them may seem friendly, but yeah, not the best of ideas, really. Wait until you have one of your own to shower them in eskimo kisses while you blabber like one of the less intelligent Muppets.

DON’T touch the treasure…

Just don’t even dare to think about dreaming about touching it on your own. And even if a kid’s toy or possession is clearly offered to you (not just held aloft for all to behold), you should be hair-trigger ready to return it the millisecond your hand makes contact.

DON’T be a curious cat…

If the kid just jibber-jabbered at you, smile and don’t ask questions; you will not be tested on it later. If they have a scar, a bandage, a weird [anything], just shut your mouth hole. File those curiosities under the None of My Business folder and then light the folder on metaphorical fire. Curiosity can be as hazardous to your tip as it is for cats.

DON’T make gender gambles…

It’s sometimes hard to tell lad from lass these days. Not every parent follows the standard-issue haircut and color palette for their boy/girl, so avoid he/she pronouns until you hear one from the parent. Refer to them as the little one or cutie if needed. You can give it a guess though if you’re a bazillion percent certain, or two bazillion percent dumb.

DON’T get touchy feely…

Every kid loves getting cheek-pinched, petted, patted or otherwise mauled right? Wrong. Offering your hand to be sniffed is also a bad idea. Look. If you cannot control yourself, go get a friggin’ pet or become a masseuse, but hands off the customers’ kids.

DON’T have the patience of a ant…

You’re on the job, and it’s just for blink of time compared to what ma and pa have in store for them. Do NOT roll your eyes, and try not to smile if you’re gritting your teeth. Also, if you’re taking deep cleansing breaths in an attempt to absorb additional patience through your lungs, try not to flare your nostrils like a racehorse.

DON’T bring an order of freshly-cooked danger…

Glass cups, lit candles, knives and forks, plates or food that has been heated to the temperature of a steam engine? Yeah, they probably didn’t order a trip to the ER to go with the grilled cheese. Have you no soul or brain? Set that stuff AWAY from babies and kids or you may wind yourself up in the ER.

DON’T offer unwanted, dense advice…

Get the idea of trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Got it? Well, the same idea applies to offering tips or suggestions to a parent who’s trying to wrangle a fussy or freaked-out child. Few parents on this planet ever hang their desperate heads and hope for the rescuing help of a young, stranger dressed in black and carrying a pen and pad. Zip it.

DON’T offer free dessert or candy, you cruel idiot…

Unless you plan on going home with the family to deal with the human sugar-rocket you are about to launch, do not offer it. Even if the parents decline your gracious offer, the family forecast will very likely be: whiny with a chance of begging. If you’re addicted to making kids’ eyes light up, go learn how to craft tinfoil into animal shapes or something, for God’s sakes!

You see?

Families and food service staff can peacefully coexist. It just takes a little care and some mutual understanding. And occasionally some really heavy tipping when the place is left looking like the set of a Godzilla movie at the end of shooting. The one where he fights a monster made of breadsticks.

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85 Responses to “The DON’Ts of Waiting on Tables of Families”

  1. Nick says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with this. Dining out is a nightmare, most times, with my daughter, so when we get a server that makes any of the mistakes you mentioned, it makes the experience that much worse. I’ve worked as a server, too, and a table with kids is right up at the top of the list for “tables I do not want tonight/today”.

  2. charlie says:

    I like that you picked demon Paula Abdul for the header!

  3. Russ says:

    This is fantastic! I can’t tell you how many times we have had to sit and stare at the macaroni and cheese because they heated it up in the seventh level of hell and brought it immediately out! What are they thinking?!

    One additional if I may: Dont make me wait 10 minutes, after we are done, to bring the check out. Bring it when you bring the food out. When we are done eating, we are done and want to get the hell out of there. Waiting 10 minutes to get a waiters attention, at a time when my kids cant be contained any longer, suuuucks.

  4. Sabrina says:

    I always loved when I was holding the baby in the car carrier and the host would ask us if we wanted to sit at a high top… in the bar. I also got asked if my newborn wanted crayons and paper?!?! On more than one occasion too.

  5. Mandy K says:

    i happily double my tip to any waitstaff who is kind enough to bring my children’s orders as SOON as they are ready, even if my food isn’t ready yet! And thank you in advance for double checking with me that the chocolate milk my son just ordered for himself is OK. 🙂

    • Emily S. says:

      Next server to offer chocolate milk to my dairy-allergic-and-pissed-off-about-it preschooler is going to get punched. We’ll have water, thank. you. very. much. I like to tip well, and the servers that manage to make my life easier instead of harder will certainly know how much I appreciate them!

    • Andy says:

      When I get good service I’m on cloud nine. When my family is served well, it’s cloud 11.

  6. Christina says:

    Me and the bf went out last week. We ordered the baby some mac n cheese from the children’s menu.
    The server put the piping hot bowl (food and bowl) in front of the baby. He was a young guy, prolly had no children of his own. But geez, you’d think anyone would know better than to hand a baby that isn’t even a year old, a bubbling plate of food.

  7. Drea says:

    Is touching a toddler/baby’s head normal behavior where you all are from? My kid seems to have a giant sign over his head that says “Please pet me!”, wait staff can’t seem to keep their hands off. It doesn’t bother me as much as I find it amusing, but I just wonder, is this normal?

    • Andy says:

      Honestly? I live in LA and there’s a “no one touch anyone” unspoken rule, which I think is a bad sign for a civilized culture. But when someone with the social or nurturing skills of a turtle comes up and uses my young kid like a stress-relieving squeeze toy… I’m in the “no thanks” camp.

  8. Shane says:

    Dude, I HATE it when they move a hot plate DIRECTLY OVER your kid lol. Also…bring me bread/crackers/chips and water as soon as you see me walk through the door with my walking apocalypse circus…as a matter of fact, run ahead of me, open the crackers and have crayons and paper ready the second I can strap my little zombie into the booster seat!!!! Trust me…Its better for all of us, rules & etiquette be darned! One more thing….extra napkins the second drinks arrive or you are cleaning up the spill yourself 🙂

  9. Julie says:

    See that huge empty spot in front of the baby, and mom and dad’s side looks a little crowded? Yeah, don’t put anything hot, sharp, breakable in that spot, thanks… Offer to take some of the empty plates instead. Thanks!

  10. Ashley says:

    Also, children make messes – if it’s not a spilled drink or something, don’t come over and disrupt our meal so you can vacuum or sweep up all the cheerios my son just threw all over the ground. It’s annoying and makes me want to tip less…. even though I won’t because I’m nice.

    • Lisa says:

      Why aren’t you cleaning up the mess your kid made? Yes, kids make a mess but that doesn’t mean you don’t make an effort to contain it.

      Stepped on Cheerios dust is harder to clean up than whole Cheerios. I am surprised this upsets you.

      • Robin says:

        Maybe they want to wait until, I don’t know, their kid is DONE making a mess? I used to pick up each Cheerio as it hit the floor – My meal came home with me, congealed and untouched.

    • Johnny says:

      Seriously–pick the cheerios up yourself.

  11. Alli says:

    As a former server & restaurant manager, I encountered each of these and more in my years of service. Now I am a tough critic as a mom/guest.
    Any server who passes a hot (or any, really) plate over any person’s head is insane. We used to write people up for that kind of thing. Just too dangerous.
    My personal favorite is when the table is full of plates (improper pre bussing or just a tiny table) and we have cleared the area in front of the child for damage-control, and the server looks for somewhere to set that one last plate/glass/breakable object/hot thing/Tabasco (lol) right in front of the child. My remark is always, “you must not have kids…” (To be kind, usually it is under my breath, lol)
    Usually when they do that, I let my kids commit one of the Seven Deadly Restaurant Dining Sins: play with the beautifully arranged sugar packets, here’s the salt-shaker-aka-maraca, have some Cheerios and let’s grind them into the floor!, yes you may have as much milk as you can possibly drink as fast as you can drink it,…(you get the picture). Hey, I can do that; I always tip over 20% so my standards get to be high. And having done the job I know what the minimum expectation is.

    And amen to the free dessert thing! I always whispered the option to the parents and let them decide. Usually won me some bonus points with Mom and Dad…:)

  12. Michelle says:

    We’ve gotten some great service at restaurants, but unless we make a big deal out of it, there’s always a big wait time for the check, which I don’t get. Seriously, don’t you want the little hurricanes out of there as fast a possible before something else gets spilled? If I’m not ready to go, I won’t slap my credit card down. It’s that simple.

    • mikes says:

      I’m amazed that this happens even with an ‘adult’ table. Who wants to be stuck there? And what waiter/waitress shouldn’t want to clear the table and get another tip… I mean customer… seated?

  13. Emily Wells says:

    Ooooh, servers who take FOREVER are the worst. If the restaurant is obviously slammed, then it’s not their fault of course. But if the place isn’t busy, servers are standing around idly and gossiping, bring my kids their freaking grilled cheese and fries!!

  14. mammatroll says:

    Yes, yes, and yes. That said, we’ve been eating out with our little one a lot, and had any of those issues only a handful of times. I also always make sure I have a back-up snack with us, in case there is a wait or he doesn’t like the food. He only gets to drink from his sippy cup or through a straw as long as one of us is holding the glass. And I always carry wet wipes with me and clean up after us as much as possible.

    Yes, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect common sense from the waiters, but it also helps to come prepared. A restaurant is a new environment, and kids are fickle. I’m not going to leave it up to the staff to save the day if my child didn’t take an instant shine to the place/food/people. I dragged him out of the comfort of his own home, so it’s my job to make the transition as easy as possible.

  15. Bizzaromom says:

    Too true. All of it. Especially the napkins and the close talking, and the hot foods. One summer we went out for brunch and the waiter brought out some hot syrup for Little G’s french toast. Well, one thing led to another, a hand went flailing in his direction, and you guessed it. Syrup all over my two year old. Piping hot, scalding, burning trip to the Emergency Room syrup. There were father’s being held back, mother’s pouring ice water on babies, owners getting all up in our business as if we needed anymore help from their staff. It was a nightmare.

  16. Kevin says:

    Most servers we’ve encountered have been pretty good. They show us the childrens menu first and understand perfectly when we say, start working on his order while we decide what we want. And we always ask for the bill when we order, or at latest when the food arrives. Then we have it and can leave when we want.
    We tip better when we get out of there faster. I wish there was a way to express that nicely without looking like a douche

  17. Jeff C says:

    Also, as a side note, do not offer free “desserts”. The other kind are very sandy and probably won’t be accepted anyways. Unless they like to sand dune surf.

  18. Emma says:

    And when you see that the items on the table have magically migrated to one side of the table… the side far away from the baby… please, for the love of god, DON’T put a huge plate of food down in the clear zone. Can’t you see it’s been cleared for a reason (as the baby already has his fingers in the side dish)? You can always tell a server who isn’t used to kids when they do this. Ugh! That food will be on the floor faster than I can move the plate!

    But please DO enjoy your generous tip, regardless of quality of service, after you clean up the small warzone of food bits surrounding our table. Yeah… sorry about that…

  19. I’m wiping tears from my face again this was so funny.

  20. Jill says:

    Finally! A story that isn’t just about how awful it is to be a server.

  21. KW says:

    Obviously not written by someone with experience as a server… If your family has this list of demands when you go out to eat, maybe you are better off dining at home. 😉

    • Susie says:

      Obviously you don’t have kids… 😉

    • Andy says:

      Well, this an entertainment website. This isn’t a list I present to waiters and waitresses before dining. But I’m curious, is there anything here you (who likely has experience serving) that you think is a bad tip for serving families?

      • KW says:

        I get that this is for entertainment purposes and I’m sorry if you’ve encountered these things while dining out, but I can honestly say I’ve never done or witnessed half of these things. The others…
        1. Most servers don’t take their sweet time getting to a table. They’re usually busy, especially since most families like to dine out during the dinner rush.
        2. Same with the “patience” comment. If you come in on a Friday night at 6:30 and I get blank stares or a ton of questions I’m going to start tapping my toes because I probably have at least ten other things I need to do while I’m waiting on your kid to choose between the chicken fingers and the mac and cheese.
        3. In a lot of corporately-run restaurants, it is policy to offer dessert. If a manager walks by and sees you clear the table without mentioning any (usually two) selections, you can get written up. Same with drinks and appetizers.
        4. Ask your server to drop the check after you order your meal. They typically come back after “two bites or two minutes” to ask how everything is. That’s the perfect time to say, “Great, thank you. We’ll take the check as soon as you get a chance.” This also helps avoid those terrible dessert suggestions.

        As a former server, these “tips” and a lot of the above comments are exactly why I hated waiting on families. You (in general) expect to be served as if you are the only table in the restaurant, require the most attention, and regardless of tip, we still have to clean up the 13 opened packets of sugar and soggy food mashed into the floor. A lot can be said for patience and etiquette as a customer as well.

        • Beavis says:

          Lighten up, Francis.

        • Paul says:

          Thank you! I am a parent and I have worked in a restaurant.

          Look; you’re not the only table in the place. No, you shouldn’t have to wait 10 minutes after you’re seated to get a server, but you know what? Your waiter may be dealing with another table and it may be a few minutes. Deal with it cupcakes.

          Most of these are pretty good: 2-8 in particular. But some of them are a bit oblivious too.

        • Andy says:

          You didn’t answer my question: are there any tips here that you disagree with? in a way you did, yes. You shot your bolt. I got it. I’m glad for you and for families that you’re not in food service if it was this rough and frustrating for you. We can be pretty damned hard to wait on.

          • anonymous says:

            Yes, but you’re hard to wait on because you have an unreasonable attitude about how much service you’re entitled to. People are working in a situation that’s not set up to handle small children, particularly small children whose parents expect the outside world to deal with the child’s issues/demands (instead of the parents’ buffering the child from these). Examples were given above, though it’s clear you’re not listening. Don’t want your child to whine for dessert? Don’t put them in a situation where the corporation is going to offer dessert. Don’t want your child to whine for food? Don’t put them in a situation where they can’t be fed immediately and are going to have to sit and watch other people be fed first (aka, not a restaurant).

          • Paul says:

            1: Don’t take foreeeever. Which I agree with, but then you state in the description that they should be there immediately…which just isn’t possible.
            2: Don’t bring freshly baked danger. I sympathize, but usually, the kitchen wants those dishes out ASAP and you’ll get your ass chewed if you don’t get them out as soon as you possibly can.
            3: Don’t offer free dessert. I’ve never seen a waiter offer a free one, but they’re almost always required to mention that they’re available and push at least one option. It helps upsells and profit margins.

  22. Mary says:

    These are some great “rules” we recently were at a restaurant and the waitress put her tray of drinks (which included two cups of hot coffee) down directly in front of my 20 month old. He of course grabbed for the cups immediately and ended up with burned fingers. if I had not been busy dealing with a screaming toddler I would prabaly have hurt the waitress :-)…

  23. Shane says:

    I’ll tell you a scary place to eat with kids…a Brazilian Steakhouse…they carry around meat on swords and have huge knives to serve it…lol…I was waiting for my kids to get skewered the entire time 😛

  24. Jenny says:

    Yes, some servers are lousy with kids. But guess what? Some kids should just not be taken to restaurants. If your kid can’t sit still or display a basic knowledge of table manners, then junior isn’t ready for a restaurant. Some kids are great in restaurants. Some are hell for the other customers. Sorry, parents!

  25. Heather B says:

    Totally agree with “DON’T bring an order of freshly-cooked danger…”. That perimeter we just cleared in front of our toddler was not so you could put my hot soup down in front. I also hate it when they pass hot stuff over their head or pour coffee anywhere near them. You wouldn’t do that stuff around the Tasmanian Devil, don’t overestimate a toddler’s ability to sit still. Seriously.

  26. Louise says:

    most bistros where I live offer a free soft drink AND dessert with their kids meals. No thanks, my 12 month old will be quite fine with her water, she doesn’t need Coke, and I know I sound like a mean mummy for not letting her have ice cream for another 6 months. Can’t they take 10% off for babies who are too little for that stuff? And why is the spaghetti Bolognese the temperature of nuclear fusion? waiting ten minutes for their food to cool down is not baby’s strong suit.

    • Andy says:

      You don’t sound like a mean mummy. And if someone thought you did sound like one, then I think the increasingly obese America needs more “mean” mommies and daddies. 😉

  27. Laurie says:

    My goodness, you would think that so many of these would just be good old common sense for wait staff! Like seriously don’t touch peoples kids! Have you had all of these happen to you while dining out with your fam? This seems like an excellent list of things to NOT do!

  28. Nathan says:

    I’m sure every person, in every profession, has said at some point, “I wish people could spend a bit doing what I do so they would understand why things are the way they are.” I feel that way every day. I’ve worked in every aspect of food service, and I find that 75% of the “issues” guests have is unrealistic expectations, as well as being ignorant of corporate policies that their servers HAVE to follow. You’d be amazed how much easier & pleasant your meal would be if you took the time to explain any needs/wants to your sever in a NON demeaning/condescending tone the majority of people take with them. Half the reason servers will slack on service, is the way they are talked to/treated by you, the guest.
    Remember the old saying your parents drummed into you, do unto others as you would have them do unto you? And before anyone asks, my kids are 17, 10, and 4. I understand what it takes to have them out to eat.

    • Donna Newsom says:

      Very well put. Thank you.

    • Andy says:

      Bad service is bad service. This post doesn’t say that customers can’t be just as bad or worse. I happen to be a great customer, so I sit in the unique vantage point of patient observation.

      If I get horrible service, it doesn’t really make it any better if I think about all of the other terrible patrons that made my server inconsiderate, rude, thoughtless… nope. It can offer empathy, sure. But I’d rather imagine that the server just broke up, or got a ticket or something, than think that they’re being bad at their job because of the people they’ve experienced in it.

  29. Amorita says:

    I have many friends in the hospitality industry and have served myself. I am also a parent, and my husband and I love to eat out. Our ‘rules’ for ensuring great service? We bring our own little high chair (Phil & Ted’s Lobster is fantastic), we place a receiving blanket under the baby to avoid ground up Cheerios, and we remove our girl from the restaurant if she’s hollering. When servers see us making the extra effort, they do too!

  30. Donna Newsom says:

    I don’t mind cleaning up after your children, just please pay me for the effort! We don’t have bussers so can you throw a girl 20 percent for wading through ranch and cereal encrusted crayon chunks? I have a child and I tip 5 percent MORE just for him being there and he isn’t even that messy. I serve families with children very well (I do exactly what I would want as a mother and the author of this article would be proud of me) and it only bothers me when I have practically need a hazmat suit to go in and get a ten percenter. This pretty much goes for anyone who is messy, children or not.

  31. April says:

    Hi. I worked in the food service industry for over 7 years and was a service/corporate trainer for 3. I agree with what you said. I think some of those rules are for general politeness. I mean who would go up to a complete stranger on the street and start touching their kid? No one…well no one who values their fingers. Anyhow, I’d like to add in a few tips that will make the dining experience easier for families:

    1. If your child is younger, bring crackers for them to munch on while waiting for their food. Or ask the server if they have any saltines or bread sticks. Most restaurants have this and it’ll keep your little one’s hand and mouth busy for awhile. And don’t worry about the mess. There are people there to clean that up–it’s their job. If crackers wont help, don’t depend on the restaurant for entertainment. Bring a coloring book and crayons.

    2. If you are ordering an appetizer, order the kid’s food at the same time. Kids are notorious for taking forever to eat. By the time your meal arrives, they’ll still be nibbling.

    3. When your food is delivered ask for the check right away in case you have to make a quick run for the door with a wailing child. Also ask for to-go boxes if you know that there will be left over food.

    4. Be proactive in your kid’s safety. Most servers are teenagers and don’t think like we do. Yes they know the food is hot but they don’t put hot food and the possibility that a child may want to bath in it together.

    On a side note: when training servers, we tell them to offer desert to everyone. Yes it’s evil when kids are at the table–but it’s a business (I have 2 children and I always whispered it to the parents so that I did indeed ask, but didn’t cause an uproar).

  32. Joel Brens says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with these suggestions. I am server, have been for years. I love my job, and I love families with kids. I abide by these rules, as I have a son myself and almost all of these things would make me unhappy as well. Perhaps we can flip the coin a bit, no?

    Rules for parents taking their kids out to eat:
    1. If they are screaming bloody murder from the outset, remove them from the area until they have calmed down.
    2. If it is crazy busy in the restaurant, don’t have me sit there for ten minutes waiting for Bobby to tell me what he wants for dinner. Just tell me what he’s eating so I can do my job.
    3. I want the kids to have a good time because chances are if the kids are happy the parents are happy. Interaction is appropriate as long as it is done tactfully.
    4. For the love of holy, keep an eye on your kids and reprimand them for running around a fast paced, potentially dangerous workspace. You don’t want to tend to your kids while having adult conversation, hire a babysitter.


    • Lavina says:

      Amen Joel!
      When my kids were younger, taking them out was a pain as they would “try” to use the restaurant as their own personal playground. After sternly reprimanding my evil spawn my beloved cherubs, turn my back and they were doing it again!
      So, in my frustration, I grabbed them by their arms and sat them on their butts. Where they were. In the middle of the restaurant. For everyone to see. Doing this only twice made them so embarrassed (even at a young age) that they turned into the best ever children to take to places!

    • Lavina says:

      Amen Joel!
      When my kids were younger, taking them out was a pain as they would “try” to use the restaurant as their own personal playground. After sternly reprimanding my evil spawn my beloved cherubs, turn my back and they were doing it again!
      So, in my frustration, I grabbed them by their arms and sat them on their butts. Where they were. In the middle of the restaurant. For everyone to see. Doing this only twice made them so embarrassed (even at a young age) that they turned into the best ever children to take to places!

  33. Rachel says:

    A million times YES on the freshly-cooked danger rule. I remember one time when my son was about a year old and we were at a Mexican restaurant. He was in a high chair at the end of the table. We had moved EVERYTHING out of this reach: chips, salsa, drinks, silverware, salt, pepper, etc. There was a giant semi-circle of safe emptiness around the highchair.

    The waiter walks up with a tray of sizzling fajitas. “Hmm, where am I going to put this sizzling plate? Oh hey, look! There’s empty space right there by the baby. That’s a good spot. I’ll put it there.”

    Everyone at the table jumped and grabbed at the fajitas. Miraculously, that spot was conveniently clear every single time he brought something to the table. So he put whatever it was he was carrying in that empty spot Every. Single. Time. You know, despite everyone immediately grabbing it and moving it away and commenting about how my son would grab it and spill it/hurt himself.

  34. Unrealisticmom says:

    Try dining with a 6-y-o with autism: never a dull moment! And yeah, we could just stay in our house for the next 12 years until they’re an adult, never exposing them to anything new or that will ever challenge them and teach them to cope (hard for kids at the best of times, and kids on the spectrum find it harder still). I’m sure some people would be happier if no child with a disability was ever seen in public, but to them I say: grow up, don’t be mindlessly cruel, and please have some damn humanity.

    We didn’t actually choose to have a child on the spectrum, and our job as parents is to support our kid to grow up to be the best they can be. You know, just like parents of “normal” children. That includes teaching them how to behave in public, and we appreciate it when waiting staff support us by serving us as quickly as they reasonably can, checking with us before offering our kid dessert and acting on our (very reasonable) requests for minor and cost-free modifications to the kid’s food and for their food to arrive first if it’s ready… In return, we will turn up at quieter times whenever we can, bring books, quiet toys and small snacks to keep the kid occupied, order promptly, pay very promptly, tip, be polite and friendly and if our kid kicks off, one of us will walk around outside with them while the other one eats, then we’ll swap. Oh yes, and actually talk to our kid rather than ignoring them other than shouting and screaming at them when they allow their boredom to bubble to the surface.

    I don’t think we’re being unreasonable…

    • Andy says:

      Not unreasonable at all. You sound like rockstars.

    • Christina says:

      My oldest is on the spectrum, sometimes he can be more difficult to deal with than the baby. Now that he is getting older (9 next week) he isn’t so bad.
      When he was a baby me and his dad used to go to this Chinese place to eat. I loved going out there. I was ebf him when he was a baby, and they’d seat us in a booth and bring us a privacy screen so people couldn’t stare. When he was being fussy from having to sit in the car seat on the high chair the waitress would come and unstrap him and carry him around with her as she took orders (which it was a buffet place, so that is mainly what people got). When we went to eat there, I think we always paid the waitress more for her tip than we did on two adult buffets.

  35. Bill Burk says:

    I think I will write and article “10 things all Parents should NOT do when dragging their kids to a Restaurant.”

    Waiting tables is an art. But you state that is can be aweful. Only when parents don’t take responsibility for their children.

    You say that servers who offer dessert are “cruel Idiots”???
    Listen, if you don’t want us to offer what we have on the menu, don’t bring your kids in. They are not stupid. They can see shakes and desserts all around them on other tables. Who’s really the cruel idiot?

    Some thoughts immedialely come to mind.

    Bring your own stack of napkins if your kid is such a slob

    Take their phones away and talk to your children, thats why you brought them, right?

    Teach them patience and respect. They can survive the few minute wait until their food arrives if you teach them how. If you cannot, take them outside until they can.

    Pick up after your kids. Do you really let them throw half their meal on the floor at home? It always amazes me that when you are in line, waiting for a table, you are so frustrated that it takes so long for waitstaff to clean and prepare dirty tables, then when its your turn, you leave a torrent of distruction in you wake.

    I could go on.

    • Andy says:

      Really? ONLY when parents don’t do their job? I think you might be exaggerating. You’re right, parents/kids can be hideous at restaurants, but the extreme reaction to what I wrote in a aggravated way for the sake of humor and entertainment (on the Internet, not in some servers face like a jerk) makes me think you’re very right, parents and kids should not be waited on by you perhaps.

    • Karyn says:

      appropriate logical opinion.

    • Nickol says:

      We used up all of the napkins we had, that is why we are at the restaurant in the first place. Napkins are cheap, a cheap way to solidify a tip. You like tips, right? We don’t actually OWE you the gratuity, that’s why it’s called a gratuity, it’s gratitude for excellent service.

      If we take the phones that are keeping them from hanger (hunger-anger) meltdowns then you would be sorry, so sorry.

      We are teaching them patience and respect when we respond to the public (including yourself) without throttling them for being thoughtless or rude D-bags to our family. We are not moving all of these people outside so they can freak out IN FRONT of the restaurant and drive away all incoming customers for the duration of THAT incident. You and your management are welcome!

      Yes, our kids REALLY do throw that much food on the floor at home, and we let them because they are learning. We clean it up every day and are AWARE of it. I’m sure every family’s joy is to leave an embarrassing mess upon the carpet at your establishment.

      Right… It’s why we tip well if our server is an understanding person… You probably don’t see that because you up the douche factor as soon as we are aimed at your section.

  36. My favorite one was “DON’T offer free dessert or candy, you cruel idiot…” So hard to deal with, especially when they are wagging that lollipop the size of your fist that has neither flavor nor color ever found in nature right under their noses!

    And, my 2 year old never needs soda to drink…ever. Water, real fruit juice, maybe a glass of milk. But not soda.

  37. Monzie says:

    When a new Korean place opened near my husband’s office, we took our then 2 year old there for a quick dinner. I thought I was so smart, not ordering the bibimbap in the sizzling hot stone bowl but it didn’t matter because the server set my boiling hot cup of tea directly in front of my kid, who took a nanosecond to grab it and dump it all over his lap. “Would you like second degree burns with your bulgogi tonight, ma’am?” Ummmmm no. Needless to say, we have never taken the children back to that place.

    We usually favor small, local establishments because the service tends to be more competent and the menus more interesting. My kids like mac n cheese as much as the average preschoolers but it’s nice to have a few other options (besides hot dogs and chicken fingers). We also like any place that serves breakfast 24 hours a day….usually very kid-friendly and lightning quick. And I gotta give a shout out to Red Robin for always bringing a pile of napkins without being asked, happily bringing free steak fries to munch on while we wait for our entrees, and giving out balloons. Oh, and for always being so ridiculously loud and full of lunatic children that my kids’ happy shrieks go basically unnoticed….

  38. Melysa says:

    My biggest complaint about restaurants, is unless my kid is old enough to order off of the adult menu – do NOT give them an adult “roll up” of flatware. My 3 year old does not need a steak knife to be placed in front of her! Have a separate roll up for kids vs adults

  39. Wes says:

    Like Rachel said above, servers need to recognize the “Red Zone” that is the circumference of their reach. This does not just apply to hot things. I have to tell servers (especially college age kids) to respect the Red Zone all the freakin time.

  40. Nickol says:

    Please bring on the DAMN CRACKERS. We all know you have crackers of gold. Any baby that is able to grab a plate and fling it on the floor is also able to cram these crisp squares of quietness and delight into their cry-hole. This makes the entire section that you are serving much much much more content and ‘tippish’ with you.
    And yes, when you said stack of napkins, my eyes almost welled up with tears.

    Please—– make this an instructional diagram, and print it onto 6×10 double sided color card stock. I will buy two dozen and bring them to restaurants. (I know a really cheap printer) I will give them to servers as we sit down if they do not plunk down the napkins and crackers and offer me a cup of coffee.

  41. kp1234 says:

    I’m sorry, but this post is absolutely ridiculous. If going out is such a horrible nightmare, then STAY HOME! Servers don’t want to deal with you and your messy, loud, and obnoxious kids. Instead of enduring the horrors of dining out, why don’t you grow up, act like an adult, and cook dinner at home. I know you may work, and feel like you’re too busy to cook when you get home, but maybe you should have considered that before you decided to have kids. Act like a parent, provide for your family, and stop criticizing others for doing poorly at a job that you yourself should be doing.

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