Chopstick Chaos

by admin on May 13, 2015

This event occurred years ago but has stuck out in my mind and I wondered if I should have done something.

Maybe 4 years ago (I was 17 or so), I had a tradition in that my friend Ann and I would go out for food once every two weeks, usually Vietnamese because it was so cheap.
Because we would go right after school, we would often be alone at our favorite restaurant because we would be eating in the lull before dinner.

The day that the event occurred, we had been waiting for our food when a mom and her two children came in. I am very terrible about guessing children’s ages but maybe 7 or so?Β  Anyways, they were really disruptive. It wasn’t so bad in terms of noise because we were the only other customers in the restaurant but they were running around, and just generally getting in the way of the staff who had received some sort of shipment. The worst though was that they began to throw things. Like most Vietnamese restaurants, there were containers of chopsticks on the table so you could just grab a pair. The two kids began grabbing handfuls and playing with them. They also began to throw handfuls of chopsticks on the floor, including the ones they had been splashing their soup with (their food had arrived and they had been given forks and spoons),Β  with the mom doing nothing while watching them.

One of the ladies who works at the restaurant came over, picked up all the chopsticks and began to clean the floor. Another one quietly removed the box of chopsticks from the table.Β  When the kids asked why the mom was angry (she had become huffy at the removal of the chopsticks), the mom replied the the restaurant was discriminating against her because she had kids and that she wouldn’t be coming back.

My friend and I looked at each other astonished. We didn’t say anything at the time as we were seventeen, but we did specifically thank our server (the same woman) loudly, complimenting her, and left a big tip.Β  Should we have said something? 0415-15

{ 104 comments… read them below or add one }

Sarah May 13, 2015 at 7:21 am

I am not sure that you can say anything – it is not really your place. On the other hand it could be that what you did do is what I would have done! I would probably also have said quietly to my friend “I bet they are very grateful that she will never come back – that will cut their expenses on chopsticks!” After all those chopsticks probably had to be thrown away – or at least I innocently believe they would not let future clients use them!

Reply

Elizabeth May 13, 2015 at 10:09 am

It is anyone’s place to object to bad behavior, however it is unlikely that this adult would listen to a teenager providing negative feedback on her children’s bad behavior.

Reply

Skaramouche May 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm

Hehe, if they were disposable, I should hope they wouldn’t be used for future customers. However, in most Vietnamese restaurants (at least the ones I’ve seen), the chopticks are plastic and are reusable. Still irritating to have to wash them again because of some out of control brats but at least they’re not throwaways.

Reply

Daniel May 13, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Chopsticks in most Vietnamese restaurants are typically made from plastic, so they would just need to be rewashed.

Reply

Aletheia May 13, 2015 at 5:54 pm

Eh, regarding the chopsticks: The Vietnamese restaurants I’ve been to have always had containers of plastic ones on the table, though I’m not sure if that’s a regional thing or not. If the OP’s restaurant was like the ones I know, all they would’ve had to do is run the chopsticks through the dishwasher along with the other utensils before letting future clients use them again. πŸ™‚

That doesn’t excuse the horrid behaviour of the mother OR the children, though.

Reply

Carolyn May 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

I honestly think you were best staying out of it – the things you did say and do (complimenting the server and leaving a good tip) were perfect. The only thing that restaurant needed less than that “mom” and her hellions was an angry shouting match between that woman and 2 teenagers! Not your circus, not your monkeys – it is their business and best to leave it up to them how they want to handle situations. It seems from her huffiness and comment about discrimination that she has no self-awareness whatsoever and reason would not have reached her – like screaming into the wind!

But I am sure the compliments, the nice tip and the regular business did a lot to take the sting out of that woman’s nastiness – sometimes the best antidote to an awful customer is a great one!

Reply

Skaramouche May 13, 2015 at 12:21 pm

100% agreed! The exact reason I’d say that OP didn’t need to do anything is that there would likely have been absolutely no positive effect on this inept mother and the intervention probably wouldn’t have helped the employees either. If anything it might have made their lives harder as now, one customer would be pitted against another.

Good riddance to this family, I say!

Reply

Ames May 13, 2015 at 7:48 am

A couple weeks ago I was in a video game store. They had a table set up with some kind of elaborate, seemingly time consuming set up, for some kind of game play.
There was a mom, aunt, and several kid in that day. The kids ran wild, no supervision, throwing game cases, knocking over displays, knocking over games.
All the mom and aunt did was tell to them to come back to them. YELL, very loudly.
Then the kids saw the table in the back and started messing with it. Store employee practically begged kids half a dozen times to please not touch. I’m assuming he didn’t want to risk losing a customer, so he didn’t deal with mom, she was on other side of store anyway.
I was standing around, near the game table and one of them knocked over a tower, something…
I said, probably more firm than I should have, STOP touching this table.
The kids went to the mom, and stayed.
I was probably in the wrong, but oh we’ll, they stopped annoying the whole store.

Reply

Moralia May 13, 2015 at 10:47 am

I’ve used a combination of The Voice and The Face to firmly tell children not to do something before. Yep, I’ve gotten the stink-eye from the parents, but the children obey.

Reply

DanaJ May 13, 2015 at 10:53 am

If they were knocking over displays and throwing stuff β€” that’s all hazardous, so I’d say the “safety exemption” puts you in the clear for rudeness.

Reply

Anne May 13, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Sounds like something I would do and if my kids were with me, they would have half expected me to do so. They know I don’t put up with that kind of disrespect of property, even if it isn’t mine.

Reply

Skaramouche May 13, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Good for you, Ames! You didn’t harm the children in any way but issued a strongly worded warning and benefited the whole store πŸ˜€

Your tale brought back memories of my experience as a public library employee. During the summer, parents (generally mothers) would often treat the children’s area in the library as a free babysitting service. There were lots of picture and board books in the area along with colourful child sized seating. These parents would leave their (sometimes badly behaved) children there and disappear for a couple of hours at a time. The rowdier ones of the bunch would upset the furniture, pull out shelves of books that we had painstakingly shelved and engage in other general mischief. I believe at some point the branch manager actually banned a few of them because after repeated warnings, they were still left there unsupervised.

One day, someone “lost” a kid. By “lost”, I mean that the kid wasn’t where the parent left it in the library. The details are fuzzy now but I believe it was a 3 year old left with a slightly older sibling. The kid was eventually found wandering in a different part of the library. The parent raged at us, of course. Why would we expect anything less? :P. I sincerely hope a lesson was learned that day but who knows!

Reply

mark2 May 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

this is why in our library there is a big sign that says no children allowed in the children’s department without an adult haha

Reply

Lady Anne May 13, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Sometimes, getting fussed at – or yelled at – by a stranger does more good than Mom or Dad saying the same thing. Kids need to understand that “the rules” are “the rules” all over town. No, Mom is not an unreasonable meanie; you friends parents, your boss, your teacher, your fill-in-the-blank, all live by the same rules and you’d better learn to do so, too.

Reply

Ergala May 14, 2015 at 9:53 am

When I was a kid I was more scared that someone else would correct me….if my mom told me to stop I knew that she wouldn’t actually smack me in public. Now someone whom wasn’t my mother….I wasn’t too sure about that. I also remember playing in the neighborhood and you were afraid of ALL the parents. They had no problem at all grabbing a hold of you and marching you home and telling your parents what had happened. Guess what happened…your parents yelled at YOU and then had a glass of ice tea with the other parents while you sat in your room.

Reply

Antonia Siemaszko May 14, 2015 at 5:43 pm

OH heck yes, and you got in extra trouble if you got hauled in by another kid’s parent or the neighbours. “How dare you embarrass me” was way worse punishment than mom or dad saying “Don’t do that.”

Reply

Livvy17 May 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

I know it’s not considered polite to curb anyone else’s impolite behavior, but sometimes I think of that quote about “all that is required for evil to win is for good people to do nothing.” Sometimes, I think that applies to little hellions who are behaving badly. Yes, it’s their parents job to teach them manners, but if the parents abdicate their responsibility, then I don’t think it’s all that unreasonable let them know they’re doing wrong. I’d draw the line at shouting or touching, but a firm “Stop. That.” seems sensible to me.

Reply

Bellyjean May 14, 2015 at 9:49 am

Agreed. And isn’t there the phrase, “It takes a village…”

Reply

MamaToreen May 18, 2015 at 7:54 am

“It takes their child to raze a village”?

Reply

NostalgicGal May 19, 2015 at 7:05 pm

You owe me for cleaning my monitor and keyboard with that spittake spray. I have to remember that one, GOOD ONE!

JWH May 13, 2015 at 4:49 pm

I think you have to make an exception for something like this. The kids’ horseplay risked actually damaging the store, not to mention interfering with your ability to use and enjoy the same. So, yeah. Doing something.

I recall a few years ago, a friend and I went out to dinner. She couldn’t find a sitter or something, so she brought her 6-year-old along. He got really fidgety during dinner, and started getting rambunctious. My friend didn’t seem able to get him to calm down. Finally … I caught his eye and glared at him. Kid spent the rest of dinner hiding underneath his hooded shirt.

Reply

Daniel May 13, 2015 at 5:26 pm

I have no qualms with telling children to behave. I haven’t yet encountered the “My Child Is Perfect” parent, whom I’ve heard takes great offense at other people admonishing their children. That said, I’m sure all of the other patrons were happy for that child tornado to pass.

Reply

just4kicks May 14, 2015 at 2:20 am

When I worked at Target, I would only say something to a misbehaving kid if I thought what they were doing would hurt them, playing around glass or something.
Then it would be, “Oh, Honey!! I don’t think your mom would like to spend the day in the ER, please stop that!”

Reply

Lila May 15, 2015 at 9:34 am

When I worked at Target I was constantly encountering kids standing in carts which can be dangerous. I’ve seen many tip over. The trick was to always tell the child to sit down. It gave the parent the opportunity to say to their child, “See, I told you you needed to sit in the cart.” They never got upset with me. Before I learned this trick I had asked parents to ask their child to sit and was always greeted with a moue of irritation and/or defensive declaration. Parents don’t mind if you help but they don’t want their parenting called into question.

Reply

EllenS May 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm

I have been known to give a hearty dose of stink-eye while telling a kid, “Did you hear what your mother said to you?” For some reason, that works.

Reply

Michelle May 13, 2015 at 8:38 am

I think you did fine. Unless they are in imminent danger or become a danger to others, it’s best not to say anything. A parent who would let their children run wild and make a mess like that is probably not going to be rationale if you say anything as evidenced by her comment when the items they were destroying were removed.

I would *love* for the mom to explain how removing the chopsticks was discrimination.

Reply

Library Diva May 13, 2015 at 9:09 am

I think that speaking up is just sort of a personality thing: some people will, and some people won’t. Some people don’t feel comfortable confronting someone with such an obvious sense of entitlement, others hate to see them get away with their behavior and don’t mind stepping in to stop it. I’m just glad that the employees stopped it in this situation, and it cracks me up that the woman said she was being discriminated against because she had children. Uh, no, you’re being discriminated against because you’re not doing your job as a parent, and even places like Chuck E. Cheese that are founded on kid-friendliness don’t welcome families who let their kids run amok.

Reply

Dominic May 13, 2015 at 9:19 am

There was a time when adults in a community could correct the behavior of misbehaving children who were not their own. There was also a time (to some extent) when adults in a community behaved in a way that did not require other adults to ask whether they should correct another adult’s bad behavior in public.

Reply

Marozia May 13, 2015 at 11:37 pm

It’s a shame that those days are gone.

Reply

Ange May 13, 2015 at 11:46 pm

Yes, and the parents who might take umbrage to people correcting their children’s behaviour are the often the first to proclaim ‘it takes a village!’ when they want something from you (usually free labour or money) for their children.

Reply

Bellyjean May 14, 2015 at 9:50 am

So true!!!

Reply

Tracy W May 14, 2015 at 10:42 am

Out of curiousity, when was that? I read a lot of history, and I’ve never heard of such a time.

Reply

Callalilly May 15, 2015 at 8:38 am

On the block I grew up on, it was expected that if your mom/dad missed out on seeing you misbehave, any of the other parents who witnessed you misdeeds were within their rights to administer the appropriate discipline. Nobody went overboard because they all had kids, and knew everyone else was also watching out for them.

Reply

vjcole May 15, 2015 at 10:45 am

Yes, and then when the other parent told YOUR parents, you’d be disciplined again. It’s amazing how well that worked as a deterrent to really bad behavior!

Reply

NostalgicGal May 15, 2015 at 2:31 pm

And once it got back to the appropriate parents, the kid got another round of discipline. More along the line of ‘you have better manners than to make someone else have to make you mind, since you didn’t now you face the court of Mom and Dad as well’. Aka do it and you got it twice.

Reply

klb4n6 May 18, 2015 at 6:26 am

I don’t remember many of the neighbors actually disciplining us when we were children, but they most definitely ratted us out to our parents. My older brother thought my mom had ESP or something, because whenever she’d come home from work she *always* knew what he’d been up to in the neighborhood. He couldn’t figure it out – didn’t realize for years it was the neighbors calling her at work and letting her know what he was up to, LOL.

Reply

Christina May 13, 2015 at 9:21 am

The servers or you standing up to the mom would have undoubtedly led to big altercation. She obviously thinks everyone else is wrong and her kids can do whatever they want. So confronting her would have only made the situation worse. It’s hard, though, because they leave thinking they were in the right and don’t learn from the atrocious behavior. I’ve done the exact same thing as you…

My DF and I were out to dinner one night and a family of five or six came in and were seated next to us. Immediately, all the mother did was complain about how it better be better than last time, and berate the waitress about the last three times they were there and what went wrong, in detail. All I could think is then “why in the world do you keep coming back if it’s so awful?” If I had to guess, with the way the woman was talking,it is that they know having a ‘problem’ usually means something is comped.

I didn’t say anything to them, it wasn’t my place and I’m sure would lead to a nasty argument. But she was awful to our waitress for no reason. I left a note on the receipt apologizing for having such customers and left a rather large tip. I couldn’t stop her other customers from being awful, but hopefully the extra money and note gave her a smile and eased the pain.

Reply

Ellex May 13, 2015 at 6:39 pm

When I was waiting tables I actually appreciated these tables. It was like a big, beautiful red flag that said “I tip like poo! No need to spend much time on me!”. They would get the perfunctory, professional, and fastest service so I could get them out and tend to the tables that might actually profit me. Three bites into the entree you’ve sent back twice? Let me present the dessert tray! No I’m not going to offer coffee – here’s the bill, here’s the manager you requested, buh-bye now!

Reply

just4kicks May 13, 2015 at 9:48 am

I am a huge stickler for manners with my own kids, and it drives me bonkers when I see kids like the ones mentioned….especially when the parents aren’t doing a damn thing to reign them in.
At our two oldest son’s baseball game last week at their home field, my two youngest kids took a break from the playground and asked if they could have money for the snack stand.
When they came back, they said the ladies at the snack table asked them to please tell their Mom to come over when I had a chance.
I asked if they had enough money, they handed me my change and said yes, I don’t know why they want to talk to you.
I walked over and there were three or four ladies behind the table, and seeing as I didn’t know why they wanted to talk to me, dragged my two kids with me.
When I got there, they said “You are their Mom?” to which I replied “that depends….what did they do?”
One of the ladies who usually works the snacks said, “Since this is the last home game, we all wanted to tell you what wonderful and polite children you have!!! Every time they come over, they say “please, May I, thank you and yes ma’am. They are great kids and a pleasure to be around! A few times, they have even offered to help us carry things in and out of the kitchen area. We wanted to let you know how much their manners and offers of help have been appreciated by all of us.”
I thanked them and got a little choked up as we walked away.
My daughter said “are you CRYING, Mom?!?”
I said “yes, a little bit….people complimenting on your manners means Daddy and I are doing our job as parents right!”
Now….don’t get me wrong….they are kids, and have bad days like anyone else where their behavior is less than stellar, but 99% of the time make me so proud to be their mom.

Reply

FizzyChip May 13, 2015 at 7:53 pm

I got a little choked up reading this. Thanks

Reply

just4kicks May 17, 2015 at 6:01 pm

@Fuzzy Chip: Thank you. πŸ™‚

Reply

Devin May 14, 2015 at 9:48 am

As a former waitress, I would always go out of my way to compliment parents who had well behaved children. Not only did I appreciate them not making my job harder, but I also wanted to encourage those families to come back again and again.

Reply

mechtilde May 14, 2015 at 1:09 pm

…and trust me, we do come back.

Reply

just4kicks May 17, 2015 at 6:02 pm

@Devin: I always complimented well behaved kids when I waitressed, and maybe snuck a little more whipped cream on their ice cream. πŸ™‚

Reply

Ashley May 14, 2015 at 12:44 pm

My parents got compliments like that too. We knew the rules and we knew what the punishments were for breaking them.

Reply

just4kicks May 17, 2015 at 6:09 pm

@Ashley: Exactly this.
My sister and I both got “you’re dressed like ladies, ACT like ladies” every time we left the house.
My mom had “the look” which was enough to stop us dead in our tracks…..we KNEW what was waiting for us at home.
One time though, my dad got in more trouble than us.
I don’t remember WHAT we did, but my mom used to make us kneel on uncooked rice on hardwood floors.
One night, we doing just that, when my left to go a neighbor’s house for crafting.
As soon as the door was shut, my dad said “okay girls….you may get up and come watch television.”
Of course, my mom came back five minutes later because she forgot something and flipped out when she saw us sitting on the couch….eating fudge-cicles!!!
I tell my kids, you think being grounded is the end of the world???
Try kneeling on rice or getting the “wooden spoon”…..I would’ve taken a grounding ANY day over those punishments!

Reply

Lisa May 13, 2015 at 9:59 am

Just stay out of it. I’m sure the staff appreciated your kindness.

People like this parent were the bane of my existence when I worked in a restaurant. What the parents never seem to realize when they let their kids run around like hellions is that the kids are in a dangerous situation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve almost dropped a tray of bar drinks on a small kid (potential for broken glass and you go home with a toddler who reeks of vodka) or a tray of hot food. I’ve even seen a kid try to SWING from the tray stand on which the hot food was sitting.

Oh, and there was one time I had to inform my customers that their small child was in the process of walking out the front door. I got stiffed.

Reply

Rebecca May 14, 2015 at 1:55 am

Oh yes, I nearly tripped over the little darlings who were oh-so-cutely running around the restaurant, while I was carrying a tray full of hot coffee. The parents saw what nearly happened and gave me a “sheesh” as if it were MY fault.

Reply

just4kicks May 14, 2015 at 2:24 am

@Lisa: I also have tons of stories about kids almost wearing a tray full of hot coffee or ice cream from when I waitressed.
“But…but they are just kids!”
Yeah…..kids who are going to get second degree burns if you don’t make them sit down!

Reply

MamaToreen May 14, 2015 at 7:24 am

I have been known to tell my own son, when watching badly parented children,” Do you see how annoying/dangerous/rude that is? That’s why we don’t let you do that.” loudly enough for the parents to hear. Old school? Yes. Effective? On occasion

Reply

JO May 14, 2015 at 12:39 pm

Love it πŸ™‚

Reply

Lisa May 15, 2015 at 8:23 am

Oh that’s a good one. I’ll have to remember that πŸ™‚

Reply

MamaToreen May 15, 2015 at 1:03 pm

Now he’s 13, and still gets complimented on his manners

Elizabeth May 13, 2015 at 10:07 am

At age 17 you were likely unable to make an impression on this ‘adult’ so I’m really unsure of what you could have said that would have made a difference. The learning for you is that if you choose to become a parent, please don’t be that person.

Reply

mark May 13, 2015 at 10:11 am

I wouldn’t intervene, the restaurant crew had it under control. I personally would stay out of it until my safety or someone else’s safety is at risk. Even then I would recommend the minimal intervention possible. I doubt the staff at the restaurant would have appreciated you getting involved.

Reply

lakey May 13, 2015 at 10:33 am

You handled it very well. I would only say something if the children were misbehaving in a way that affected my eating my meal, such as throwing the chopsticks in my area. It is the responsibility of the restaurant employees to deal with the kids. If you had said anything to the mom, she probably would have become defensive and argued with her. I’m pretty sure that her response would have been, “They’re just kids.” Parents like this are oblivious to the fact that, yes, kids misbehave, but it is the job of a parent to correct, and teach them. She thought she was punishing them by refusing to come back? LOL.

Reply

lakey May 13, 2015 at 1:02 pm

“punishing them by refusing to come back” = “punishing the restaurant by refusing to come back”

Reply

PJ May 13, 2015 at 10:43 am

That woman obviously didn’t understand her fault in the situation. If you said something you would have only made things worse. Being extra-nice to the staff was a great reaction and I’m sure they appreciated it.

Funny how she assumes she’s a victim of discrimination for something she can’t help rather than just experiencing the consequences of her own actions (or inactions). It’s easier to be a victim than be responsible, isn’t it?

Reply

riversong May 13, 2015 at 11:06 am

I think you handled it perfectly. In correcting others rude behavior, you would be behaving rudely yourself. It’s better to let the restaurant handle their customers.

On a side note, I have stopped being friends with a few people who let their children behave this way. I have young children, and I’m all for giving other parents the benefit of the doubt, but there came a time when I was so embarrassed to go anywhere with them that I just claimed other plans. One of the mothers would pretend not to see her son misbehave until an employee would step in, when as her friend, I knew she saw. Once her son used the restroom in the play place of a fast food chain and she just grabbed him and left, never informing any of the employees. I refuse to spend time with lazy parents.

Reply

Jocelyn May 13, 2015 at 11:10 am

I work in a store part-time. The other day someone got high-handed with the owner, and declared that she’d lost a customer forever. The owner replied, ‘If you’ve never bought anything, you’re not a customer to begin with.’

And yes, some customers aren’t worth the hassle of the profit you’d make from them.

Reply

mark May 13, 2015 at 6:13 pm

This is so true, I think businesses would actually do better if they were to “fire” their “worst” customers.

Reply

Shannan May 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

You did the only thing you could do. You steered your server’s mind over to a more positive mood and sent a loud and clear message that she was doing a good job. Well done OP!

Reply

Justine May 13, 2015 at 11:52 am

Lucky restaurant – that mom is refusing to come back.

Reply

lnelson1218 May 13, 2015 at 12:50 pm

I have mixed feelings about the situation. On one hand, these are other people’s kids and it is not my job to discipline or bring them under control, as I am not the paid babysitter.

On the other hand, I would not want my dining experience ruined by kids viciously behaving badly. And we hear enough stories about parents not parenting. Bad behavior can effect others, especially kids running around in a crowded place.

Reply

RC May 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I’m travelling at the moment, and have seen all kinds of examples of obnoxious behaviour from people with children, like today, the American family who let their two young boys run riot around Barcelona’s Cathedral, and had a squalling baby to boot. Rather than approach them and suggest that they leave as Cathedrals are a place of silence and reflection, I left it alone; not my monkey, there were staff who could make that decision. Even when they started taking photos in the chapel reserved for prayer (and clearly sign posted No Photos), I didn’t approach them.

You did well OP, and acted graciously to the staff. I’m sure they really appreciated it. And I bet they’re glad that lady didn’t plan to return!

Reply

iwadasn May 13, 2015 at 7:32 pm

Letting their kids run around like that is certainly an etiquette no-no, but do you really think it’s rude to have a crying baby? All babies cry at some point or another, and unless you never leave the house until the kid is a few years old, the baby crying in public is pretty much inevitable.

Reply

Firecat May 14, 2015 at 8:37 am

Having a crying baby isn’t rude. Having a crying baby in a place that is meant for quiet, reverent contemplation and not removing him/her as quickly as possible – that’s rude.

Reply

Aletheia May 14, 2015 at 8:56 am

I would guess it depends on how the parents are dealing with it? If they’re obviously aware of how their baby’s crying is affecting others and/or are actively trying to help the baby stop crying (holding him or her, preparing food, offering a toy or pacifier, etc), then no, it’s not rude at all. But if the parents are actively ignoring the infant in favour of acting the tourist, ooohing and aaahing over everything, taking pictures, etc, then… yeah, that is rude on the parents’ part. :/

Reply

RC May 14, 2015 at 9:06 am

Oh, I agree, babies do cry, these things happen. A crying baby in itself isn’t rude at all. But if they start crying in an area of quiet, like a library, or a church, or an enclosed space, it is polite to calm them or remove the poor thing if it won’t stop. This family had ample opportunity to do that, but continued on their merry way disturbing everyone around them. This went on for a good 15-20 minutes before I left.

Reply

Devin May 14, 2015 at 9:53 am

This is the reason many churches or cathedrals have crying rooms. A quiet place to take a crying baby as to not disrupt those in meditation or prayer. One parent could have easily stepped out with the child till it was calmed. I’m sure they wanted to visit this place as a family (if they were religiously inclined) but their desires do not trump others expectation of quiet and reverence in such a place.

Reply

Shannan May 14, 2015 at 10:05 am

Of course children are going to cry. My issue with crying babies is that you try and calm them down. If they are still crying, you leave. I hate when people let their babies cry and cry while you’re trying to enjoy something and then my experience is ruined.

Reply

Ashley May 13, 2015 at 1:08 pm

I would have said something because it would have been disrupting my experience. I’ve been hit in the head before by stuff being flung around by kids with parents who just don’t care, so if it even starts up near me I do what I can to politely but firmly shut it down before I get hit by who knows what.

The worst situation was when a FORK came flying over the back of the booth. My husband saw it coming and told me to duck and I did but then it landed in my food. A waitress saw it happen and came to get my food and have it remade because she had also seen the kid who flung it slobbering all over it and touching it with dirty hands. The kid was old enough to know how to use a fork. The parents LAUGHED and said “oh, we’re sorry, don’t worry he’s not sick or anything though” and I said “So you’re perfectly okay with your child throwing sharp things and disrupting other people? I have to wait for my food to be remade now” and the woman acted like I was making too much of a fuss over it. A fork came flying at me and the only reason it didn’t hit me is because my husband saw it coming. How am I supposed to react?

Reply

Ashley May 13, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Also, in addition, while they were “apologizing” for their child throwing a fork in my direction, their child was still throwing other stuff and they were doing NOTHING to contain him. They at no point in time actually told their child to stop throwing anything.

Reply

Meegs May 13, 2015 at 2:09 pm

It would have been great if the server had said “No, we don’t let adults throw handfulls of chopsticks on the floor either.”

Reply

Ellex May 13, 2015 at 6:42 pm

Aha! So clearly the most polite course of action would be for the OP and her friend to start throwing chopsticks around too so the mom could see that the waitress was an equal-opportunity chopstick-take-awayer! πŸ˜€

Reply

GeenaG May 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

You have every right to speak up. That being said, with people of that mindset I don’t think it would be at all effective because they are blinded by their own selfish sense of entitlement to anyone else. It’s their world and the rest of us just occupy space in it. That really seems to be what they believe, at least judging from the behaviors on display.

Reply

AS May 13, 2015 at 3:17 pm

…and then the kids grow up to wonder why they do not have any friends. Of course, mother darling probably tells them that they are so sweet, and people of this world just don’t know to appreciate them. They resolve to save up cookie points to settle in Booron.

I was once with my mother in a store, which had glass counters in the centre of the store for cosmetics, where they had the testers. Mom and I were trying out some stuff (I think the lipsticks), when a lady came in with a 1-2 year old. This lady proceeds to make the little girl sit on glass counters! As if that wasn’t bad enough, she wanted to try out nail polishes and when the staff brought out the testers, the child started throwing the bottles on the ground! (Thank goodness for the really thick glass that nail polish companies use; yet, they can break on impact). The staff collected around and started catching the bottles before they fell on the ground. By this time, my mother was fuming with anger. We quietly left, but not before she gave a very stern look to the baby-mom – which she seemed to have noticed, as she was giving this embarrassed “I know my baby is behaving badly, but don’t know what to do about it” smile. The baby-mom left with the baby soon afterwards.

Of course, in my example, the baby-mom seemed to know that her child was behaving badly, which the mom in OP’s story totally missed.

Reply

JO May 13, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Special snowflake syndrome at it’s finest…

Reply

flora May 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Considering the mother’s reaction to having the chopsticks removed and the fact the waitstaff appeaered to say nothing, I’d say you did the right thing. The only thing I might have done (personally) is ask for the wasted floor chopsticks because I could use them for crafts.
I work in a craft store and we, the staff aren’t allowed to say anything to either the children or the parents other then “can I help you?” Sometimes, if I see a kid wandering I’ll ask him or her “where is your grownup?” or if they take something the parents don’t want them to have I’ll ask if I can have it and compliment them on being good helpers (that last one works best in the 1-3 range)

Reply

Vrinda May 14, 2015 at 8:48 am

What do you when the children are misbehaving, of you can’t speak to children or parents other than to ask if they need help?

Reply

Vrinda May 14, 2015 at 11:03 am

Type-O: I meant “What do you do when …”

Reply

wren May 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm

Two preteen kids in front of me in church were left alone when their mom left the worship area for about ten minutes. We were standing and singing. The kids started shoving, poking, elbowing and kicking each other and giggling. Glares from nearby worshipers were ignored. I finally had enough and leaned forward and hissed “You are making it impossible for me to worship!” and they settled down quite a bit. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I hope it helped them on their journey to understanding what rude behavior is and that good behavior isn’t something to do just when Mom is watching.

Reply

K May 13, 2015 at 5:01 pm

I think you did just fine! Pointing out rudeness is rude and, worse, usually not very productiveβ€”it sounds like this woman was rude out of entitlement, not obliviousness, which leads me to believe she would have been unreceptive at best to any attempt at an etiquette lesson. I think the most we can do in situations like this is model the behavior that we think best (as you did!), and hope that others follow our example.

Reply

iwadasn May 13, 2015 at 7:26 pm

It’s amazing what parents will let their children do in public. One summer, I worked at an amusement park in one of the stores. It was a kids’ store that mostly sold stuffed animals, and kids would just grab armfuls of things from the shelves and throw them on the floor while their parents watched and did nothing. I’ve never understood why parents would want to teach their kids that it’s okay to act that way. The parents certainly wouldn’t want their children doing things like that in their own home or in the home of a friend of family member, so why would they lead them to believe it’s okay to do it in a store? One of the most important etiquette lessons to teach kids is that the world is divided into Things That Are Yours and Things That Are Not Yours, and Things That Are Not Yours should be treated with respect regardless of whether they belong to another person, a store, a church, or a museum.

Reply

MyWorld May 13, 2015 at 9:03 pm

It drives me nuts when parents do not parent!

I don’t know that I could have kept my mouth shut in that situation!

We have been foster parents for over 20 years. Standard rules were when you were in a store, unless you have money in your pocket and are planning to make a purchase; you don’t touch!

If we went out to eat, it means using good table manners, inside voices and staying in your seat or its time to leave and you don’t get to eat out again until you can assure me that you will follow those simple rules.

My favorite memory was taking 6 kids out to breakfast and as we were finishing up, an older woman came over and complemented the kids on how well behaved they were, saying that she had cringed when we were seated near her, but instead she had been really impressed with their manners. Those kids glowed with pride for the rest of the day!

Reply

MamaToreen May 14, 2015 at 7:32 am

Ladies and Gentlemen, THAT is how it’s done!

Reply

Tracy W May 14, 2015 at 10:46 am

Awesomely done, especially as I presume you often would only have a brief time with these children.

Reply

just4kicks May 17, 2015 at 6:14 pm

@My World: Congratulations, that’s wonderful!
The world needs more folks like you!
What a beautiful story.

Reply

Cat May 13, 2015 at 9:04 pm

I would not have said anything. I may have been tempted to stand and cheer when she promised not to come back.

Reply

KC May 13, 2015 at 9:31 pm

I was once eating in a local restaurant when two kids (maybe 8 -10 years old) at the next table began fighting. The parents continued to eat and talk and completely ignored the kids as it escalted to a food fight. The older boy flung a spoonful of mashed potatoes at his brother, and the brother flung a spoonfull of his own mashed potatos back – only the older boy had better reflexes and ducked! A huge wad of potatoes flew over his head and hit the gentleman behind him in the back of the head. The parents never stopped eating and talking. The man wiped his head off, calmly stood up, grabbed his glass of water, walked over to the table and poured the glass over the head of the kid. The kid began screaming, the rest of the patrons began applauding! The manager hurried over and asked “Is there a problem here?” to which the man calmly replied “Yes, I need another glass of water, please” as he sat back down. (At this point the manager packed the food “to go” and ushered the family out of the restaurant – while the parents kept asking Why?)

Reply

Vrinda May 14, 2015 at 8:52 am

I want to shake that man’s hand!

Reply

Lady Anne May 14, 2015 at 9:41 am

“I need another glass of water” – oh, I love it! I just love it!

Wren, we used to have a family at our church who had an absolute monster of a child (which I didn’t really consider to be his fault, as his parents were totally oblivious to his existence) who would rampage up and down the aisles during service. They always sat in the front pew, in order to bother more people, I do believe.

One Sunday this child was running along the side aisle, holding a toy gun (of all the toys to allow a child to take to church!) and rattling it along the pews. On his third trip, I grabbed him by the arm and plopped him FIRMLY on the seat beside me. “I came here to talk to God, not to watch you act as if you are on the play ground. Now, see if you can sit still for five minutes.” He goggled at me for a moment, and then did actually sit back and listen for a few minutes. He then returned – quietly – to his parents, and nothing more happened during that service.

The next week he managed to stick his fingers far enough through the guard on the standing fan in the back of the church to nick his index finger, and you’d have thought he’d been stabbed through the heart. The parents blamed the ushers for not being more careful.

Yeesh.

Reply

bloo May 14, 2015 at 9:45 am

I. Love. This.

Wouldn’t have done it myself, mind you, but I would probably applaud.

It depends on the situation, if I keep silent or use my words to telegraph displeasure over someone else’s misbehavior.

Reply

Jared Bascomb May 14, 2015 at 9:16 pm

I was seriously tempted to do this to the little brat who was seated directly in front of me on my transatlantic flight. His fiddling with his reclining seat-back caused my complimentary G&T to actually spill off my tray table and into my lap.

I wanted to pour the residue over the brat’s head, but I refrained: His father was a psycho.

Daddy had gone ballistic on a woman who had jostled his seat while she was seating herself next to me, before take-off and to an extent that the flight attendant had to interfere and seat the woman elsewhere.

No way was I going to discipline his son, despite continual bouncings of the seat for eleven hours that affected other tray-table activities like eating.

Reply

just4kicks May 17, 2015 at 6:15 pm

KC: awesome…..truly awesome. πŸ™‚

Reply

Green123 May 14, 2015 at 3:33 am

I personally would have said something to the mother (or directly to the children) way before the waitress had to intervene. However I can totally understand why the OP and her friend did not feel comfortable intervening.

Reply

Jess May 14, 2015 at 9:12 am

Children misbehaving and running rampant in restaurants really gets on my nerves. Your child is putting themselves and other people in danger and you can’t look up from your phone?
I used to work in a pub bistro that had dishes served on “sizzling” plates (cast iron plates that would sit in the oven/on the burner until serving, where it would be placed on a wooden holder and the dish would be poured onto it; lots of steam and crackling and general fanfare – I hated them). So essentially I was carrying around a potential branding iron filled with food lava.

During a fairly busy dinner service there were three boys aged about 9 or 10 running around the dining hall throwing a football around. (it was the rugby grand final, the bar was packed) Knowing I had a large order of “sizzling” dishes to come out on my next trip from the kitchen, I asked the boys to stop playing in the dining room; “you’re not our mum” was the answer I got. So I went over to who was supposed to be responsible for them; “u-huh” and didn’t even look up from her phone.
Well I had to get those dishes out so I gingerly made my way around the perimeter of the walkway… lo and behold one the boys came careening towards me, running backwards to catch a wayward pass. Now I may only be 5’2″ and weigh 120 pounds with my hair wet but I used to play a bit of rugby in my time. If they wanted to play rugby in my dining hall, so be it. Holding dishes high, braced for impact, hip turned at juuuust the right angle, and the little hellion bounced right off me. Thankfully the impact didn’t upset any of the dishes and I was able to deliver them to their table before hellion got his wind back to go whinge to his mum – who didn’t even look up from her phone when he did.

With all this going on there was only one person who said anything, a boy about the same age who was standing quietly observing who then turned to his dad and said “you’re not supposed to run around in a restaurant”. Safe to say he got a free scoop of ice cream πŸ˜‰

Reply

Ashley May 14, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I thought of a more recent incident than my last example. My husband and I went to see the new Avengers movie. We LOVE all the superhero movies and were excited to go see it. We deliberately picked a movie that occurred during the lunch hour with the goal of trying to avoid as many people as possible due to previous bad incidents involving kids during these movies.

When we got to the theater we were asked to actually pick our seats, which surprised us, and we then found out they had upgraded to the fancy electronically controlled recliners that many theaters are switching over to. We settled in and were thrilled because the theater was mostly empty and we were only about 5 minutes to showtime…It filled up a bit more during the previews. Then, during the last little “It’s time to settle back and enjoy the show” montage, a mother and four girls who were all no older than 4 come in and get into the row right in front of us. Mom was on her phone most of the time, and the little girls spent more time playing with the buttons on the chair than they did doing anything else. They got up and left the theater at least five times during the movie, mom didn’t even go with them. At one point they were actually watching some cartoon on their mothers phone, and mom basically ignored them except for at one point when I got annoyed enough to say “Some of us came to watch the movie, not your kids”. They sat still for about five minutes, then were back to whatever they were doing. Why pay that much to bring your kids to a movie when NONE of you are watching it?? Why let them disrupt other patrons like that? Thankfully the theater had a nice sound system so I didn’t HEAR them or anything, and the rows are positioned in such a way that they didn’t actually block the screen at any point, but it was still annoying to catch four little heads just bobbing around in the bottom of my field of vision. And also, thank goodness the rows are spaced so that even if the chairs are fully reclined there’s still about a foot and a half of space between you and the next row, because otherwise I’m SURE they would have been kicking chairs if they were in normal theater seats.

Reply

Emmy May 15, 2015 at 7:09 am

Wow this mom threatened not to come back, like that was a bad thing. I am a parent of 2 small kids and I cannot stand when other people don’t parent. I wish people had to pass some kind of test before they were allowed to have kids.

Reply

Aria May 15, 2015 at 8:14 pm

You absolutely did the right thing in not saying anything. Anyone who would say she’s being ‘discriminated’ against in such a situation has no grasp of reality. If you did try to speak up I wouldn’t be the least surprised if she became abusive. Do not engage the crazy.

Reply

Nicole May 17, 2015 at 8:49 am

It may not be your place to say anything to the offending mother directly, but you can still help out the staff. Especially at corporate places, one complaint can determine the continued employment of a server or manager. If you see bad behavior from a “guest” and the staff was not to blame or did a great job in keeping composed and handling the situation, send in a email or feedback about what you saw.

Reply

Enna May 19, 2015 at 5:32 am

@ Nicole I was going to suggest something similar. If you witness something you can leave your details behind, either with the staff member who has suffered or speak to the manager explaining what you saw and that any complaint the misbehaving customer files is groundless/false.

Personally I think the wait staff or the manager could have said something about health and safety – someone could slide across the floor on a chop stick and hurt themselves. Also a manager could point out that she is responsible for her children and if they injury themselves through her lack of attention (aka neglect) the restaurant is not liable. Unnecessary cleaning/washing up is a waste of time and a waste of money so restaurants don’t want people who will cause extra unnecessary work. So I bet they are glad to see the back of her.

Reply

Angel May 24, 2015 at 9:14 pm

I wouldn’t have said anything–but if it’s a situation where we just sat down and haven’t ordered yet, I would be tempted to just walk out. I actually have just walked out on one occasion. No way am I going to sit there and have my meal ruined by a couple of bratty kids. I have two kids myself and they are not always perfectly behaved but–they know enough not to mess with the restaurant visit. They know that if they make a huge mess/get up from their chair/etc., they will be punished when they get home. No question about it. At this point I don’t even have to say a word, I just give them a very stern look and put my hand on their arm. At 7 and 9 they get the message loud and clear. I also don’t hesitate to point out the behavior of other kids–both good and bad. And I ask them questions about what they are doing right or what they are doing wrong. Believe me, they know. So in my opinion parents who just let their kids do whatever they want are really doing them no favors. Eventually NO ONE wants to be around kids like that and they will have a hell of a time out in the real world. And they may not even know how to behave properly simply because the parents never intervened. And that to me is a terrible shame.

Reply

rachel June 8, 2015 at 9:57 am

Nothing needed to be said, the staff handled it.

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: