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Things Our Parents Say

June 26, 2008

Last night, while trying to enjoy my weekly dinner at a chain restaurant with my parents, we were seated across the aisle from a woman dining alone with four young children.  One of the children screamed loudly and purposely and the woman was doing everything in her power to keep the child in check, until finally, exasperated, she exclaimed, “I’m never taking you out to eat again!”  I hope she follows through with that.  Children who do not know how to behave in a restaurant should not be taken out to eat–the place where we were eating has carry out and everyone would have been better served if she’d taken advantage of the carry out option and eaten with the children at home.

The noise that emanated from that child came in piercing, high-pitched, loud screams.  It was not normal crying and the child was not upset, but just wanted to be loud.  It was physically painful to hear and we actually had to yell over the screeching so that our waitress could hear our order.

All of this caterwauling elicited a statement from my mother,  “You were never like that and we took you out to eat all of the time when you were little.  Of course, you liked to eat.”  It was the, “Of course, you liked to eat,” line that bothered me.  Well, yeah, I liked to eat because you were starving me at home so I was desperate for calories.  Going out to eat meant I actually got to eat something more than a bland, non-seasoned, baked piece of white meat chicken and a tiny, pathetic, dressing-free iceberg lettuce and carrot salad (if I was lucky there might be a few slivers of radish or celery).

My “liking to eat” had nothing to do with the fact that I was a well-behaved child who knew how to occupy myself quietly and who became endlessly fascinated with the multitude of creative ways that you can fold a napkin.  Liking to eat really had nothing to do with how well behaved I was in restaurants.  Some children are content to quietly occupy themselves and behave appropriately in restaurants and some scream nonstop.

I hate that my mother attributed my good behavior in restaurants as a child to my “liking to eat” instead of to the fact that I was a quiet, well-mannered child, which would have been more accurate.


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