Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Have a High Chair

I take the kids out to restaurants all of the time - probably more than the average person.  The reason is threefold:

1) I enjoy eating out and refuse to allow motherhood to take away this joy from my life.
2) It is an excuse to get out of the house and kills at least two hours.
3) It means that I don't have to cook for the kids at home, watch them not eat the food I cook for them at home, battle them when they continually refuse, and ultimately clean up all of their uneaten (and thrown) food.

I try not to take the kids to fine dining establishments, but I also don't only take them to kidcentric restaurants either.  My rule of thumb is if I show up at a restaurant before 6pm, it's all fair game.  If people want to ensure that they do not encounter screaming children while dining out, show up after 7:30pm.  These are the unwritten rules that I have decided to live by, and I am at peace with them.

My kids are generally well behaved at restaurants.  I come equipped with Ipads and LeapPads and arsenals of matchbox cars and cheerios and goldfish crackers.  I have perfected the art of bribery with ice cream and the staggering of juicy beverages.  I am a pro at this.  I have even had random strangers come up to me and tell me how well behaved my children are.  I smile with pride and graciously accept the compliment.

It isn't always so smooth, however.  There are missteps and low points.  There are thrown objects. Spilled drinks.  Breakdowns and tantrums and shrilling screams.  I have carried a perpendicular kicking child out of a restaurant more times than I'd care to share.  But it all comes with the territory.  If you're going to brave a restaurant with two kids under five, you're going to have your war stories.  I usually take it in stride.

But a restaurant rocked me yesterday.

My dad was in town from North Carolina, and he is an Indian food aficionado.  He has been wanting to go to Rasika, one of the top rated restaurants in DC (which happens to serve Indian food), for ages, but it is always impossible to get a reservation.  In fact, each time I have called for a weekend reservation and planned on getting a sitter, the receptionist scoffs at me as if to say, "Um, are you serious?  You're only calling two weeks in advance? For a Saturday?   Hahahahahahhahahahah.  I don't think so." 

I've tried multiple times.

This time around, I figured screw it - lets just go for lunch.  I booked a reservation for Monday at noon, for three people.  Three being myself, my dad, and a two year old.

I didn't want to bring Casey with us.  Rasika is a nice restaurant, and I knew it would be full of business people eating business lunches talking about really important business.  But because of preschool drop offs and return flight plans and traffic and blah blah blah, if I had gotten a babysitter, I would have been gone for six hours, and I really didn't want to pay $90.  Remembering my 6pm rule, I figured I would go for it and hope for the best.

The restaurant called around 10am that morning to confirm my reservation.  I confirmed, and asked that they set aside a high chair, as we would have a toddler with us.

"We don't have high chairs,"  she said in a polite voice.


I panicked.

It wasn't that I needed a high chair per se.  Sometimes Casey doesn't even use one.  It's just the implication of what that meant.  It meant KEEP YOUR DAMN KIDS AWAY FROM OUR BUSINESS PEOPLE RESTAURANT.  

Usually the pinnacle of confidence and calm about dining with my children, I started to cower. Would they give us dirty looks when we walked in the door?  (Yes.).  Would the waiter groan when he saw his patrons? (Yes.).  Would my fellow diners look down on me in disgust?  (Yes.).  I felt a feeling I hadn't felt in a long time - hard core intimidation.

I called my husband in frenzy - Could I please drop Casey off at your office so just my dad and I could go to lunch?  Just for an hour?  Please!  

No.  (I may or may not have hung up on him.)

I already had my usual resources, but I decided I needed reinforcements.  We stopped by a toy store on the way to the restaurant, and I bought a book.  A car.  Some weird magnetic drawing pad.  I began hyping up the fact that a high chair would not be available.  Casey, isn't it cool that you'll be in a big boy chair today?  

He furrowed his brown at me in response.  "No!  High chair!"

Oh dear God.  

We showed up at the restaurant ten minutes early.  My anxiety was escalating.  I again asked for a high chair (not sure why), and was denied once again.  I considered asking for the kid's menu just to be funny, but I resisted.

As we sat down in our booth, I silently pleaded with Casey.  Please don't freak out.  Please don't freak out.  

He didn't.

They came and took our order right away, and we ordered immediately.  Our food was brought out in record time.  And aside from Casey spitting out some chewed up food onto the floor (which a waiter immediately came and removed with a cloth napkin), he was GREAT.  A model toddler patron.  The anxiety was all unfounded, and was all mine.

I left the restaurant with a kind of smirk on my face.  See, bitches?  You may not want my two year old here, but I am going to bring him anyway.  And he will show you.  

It wasn't until later that day that I really thought about it and got kind of annoyed.  Really?  You don't provide high chairs?  The restaurant doesn't have an official policy banning children from dining, but they might as well.  They are making it perfectly clear.

I get it - people don't want to deal with screaming kids, especially when they are dining at a nice restaurant.  But the fact is, kids aren't always screaming.  Lots of time they are quiet and harmless. And when they are not, then I will remove them from the table and restaurant and trust me, I will be the one who ultimately suffers.  That doesn't constitute an enjoyable meal for me.

If I, as a mother, want to bring my child to Rasika, or any other hoity toity business people frequenting establishments, I should be able to do that without enduring dirty looks or judgment. I'm going before 6pm, and I am paying just like everyone else.

And by the way, help me out a bit and give me a high chair.


  1. I actually disagree, and I have a child. While you and I may take our children out when they are midbehaving, not everyone does. And, when I do pay for a sitter and go out with my husband for a nice meal in a nice restaurant, I sure as HELL do not want to listen to a screaming child. And, because they cannot assure that everyone will be as responsible as you and I, they have to make the place child un-friendly to please their patrons. I get that. I also don't frequent the kid-centric places, because they drive me bonkers. I tend to take my daughter to middle-of-the-line places.

  2. I have taken my son (now 9 months) to rasika. He did fine. Napped on my lap. Momma even breastfed him (with cover, which she usually won't bother with). Nobody said a damn thing. Of course, I'm 6 foot 2 male and usually people don't pick fights with me :)

  3. I totally agree with you. There's a restaurant on the upper east side of Manhattan that does not have high chairs and actually has a sign out front that says "no strollers." While I used to love this restaurant, I won't even go there with my husband or friends anymore on principle!

  4. I totally get your perspective, but I have to agree with the above comment. Not all parents are as respectful as you. Also, it somewhat changes the dynamic when children are around. For example, if my husband and I are out at a restaurant and a child is at the table next to us, we are much more mindful of accidental swearing or our topics of conversation. Unfortunately, I am not sure that there is a great way to get around that...

  5. I think it's just business... they know their regular customer type, and based on that it's just not an efficient or necessary business expense to buy high chairs (and find a place to store them, etc.). I wouldn't take it as any sort of message.

  6. Perhaps not many people bring their children to an Indian restaurant? You mentioned there's no kid's menu that's probably why.

    As a server I don't mind waiting on customers with kids. One request; don't leave half chewed food on the table!! so gross. A plate, okay but on the table....BLAH!!

  7. I am a parent and I don't really expect restaurants to have high chairs. I always think it is a nice bonus when they do. I don't really expect other people to go out of their way for my kids in general. But then again, I rarely take my kids out to dinner with me. My job involves taking people out to lunch (gotta love a job like that) so the idea of paying to be stressed out about the behavior of my toddler at a restaurant in my Logan Circle 'hood is not that appealing. Plus my kids go to bed early, so I just head out nearby with a friend for a late dinner if I feel the need to check out a new place. But if I was out at one of my business lunches at Rasika and saw a two year old, honestly I'd do a disapproving double-take. it's just not that kind of restaurant. Especially at lunch during the week when people are typically entertaining for work. But I do give you props for having the guts to try it (and for having it work out).

  8. get a fisher price healthy care chair that straps on and is portable. problem solved.

  9. get a fisher price healthy care booster chair. portable and straps on to restaurant chairs. $25 on amazon. problem solved.

  10. This is such a North American problem. I say that because I'm Greek but living in Canada and whenever I travel back to Greece it always strikes me how everyone is always out together EVERYWHERE as a family at what us North Americans would consider ungodly hours for children. It's not unusual to see children under 5 out at restaurants with their parents at 10 or 11 o'clock at night. Different culture, I know, but much more child friendly. It's very unusual to rely on sitters as much as we do here. Kids are just part of everyday life and never really frowned upon when brought into public places. I am in Canada and have an 8 month old. Whenever we've gone out to a "nicer" restaurant, we always get stares of disapproval - like we're bringing in puppy as opposed to a little HUMAN. So far, she hasn't had a meltdown and has been very well behaved but I just can't be bothered with the stress of potentially disrupting those around us. It makes me mad that people make you feel that way. And then we wonder why women feel isolated here and prone to depression after having children...

  11. I also think you're reading too much into the high chair thing. I eat out a lot with my kids too, and so many where I live (hipsterville, admittedly) don't have them. They take up space, which is a big deal around here. I don't even bother to ask for them now, my kids are so used to being low or sitting on knees. If they treated you poorly, that's a totally other story - but that doesn't really seem to be the case.

  12. Children under 5 out at restaurant after 10 pm? Why is that a good idea in any country?

  13. I do believe that it does happen in many cultures and children just seem to adapt. My Indian parents did it when we were young, and we knew how to behave and they knew when to leave if we forgot. I feel that way about restaurants without change table trays somewhere. It doesn't stop me though. At least you can buy some pretty cool portable chair stuff, but I don't think its is far fetched for you to consider the lack of a high chair such a sentiment on the part of the restaurant.


Copyright ©2011 Small Bird Studios| All Rights Reserved |Free Blog Templates at Small Bird Studios