Why I Hate Taking My Baby to Restaurants
Having a baby so many years apart from my first sometimes makes me feel like I’m in a time warp. I realized this last week when I tipped a waiter 25 percent after taking my fourteen-month old son out for dinner with the rest of the family
I remember taking Rowan, my nine-year-old, out when she was a baby, and it generally a horrible experience. Once she threw a spoon across the restaurant almost hitting another customer in the head.
I know there is the constant debate at certain restaurants whether or not babies should be allowed in (Even I, on date night with my fiancé at a restaurant, refuse to sit at a table anywhere near a baby.) But we had our three girls with us, who at age 9, 12 and 15 can manage to eat like most cultured humans, unlike my baby son.
My baby son isn’t so interested in going out to a restaurant to actually eat. What happens is that we’ll give him anything and everything on the table to keep him busy. This included the container of sugar packages, the saltshaker, the chopsticks (we were at a sushi restaurant) along with the other things we had brought to keep him occupied, like Cheerios and toy trucks. The baby, at least, didn’t throw any kind of temper tantrum, thank God, but he had to be constantly occupied.
He threw all the sugar packages on his tray onto the floor, after shaking them for a whole 11 seconds. Same with the Cheerios we brought. Same with the straws that came with our adult drinks. Even I couldn’t keep up with all the crap he kept throwing around, every second bending down to pick up something else, to the point I was getting dizzy. Once, while on vacation, I saw a baby at a table start sucking on a saltshaker (I would NEVER and HAVEN’T since, after seeing that, used salt or pepper shakers at restaurants.)
This is generally why I try not to take my baby out for dinner. Also, just by bringing him, the meal ends up costing a lot more, even if we don’t order anything for him. That’s because I feel so awful about the mess he has made that I’m like, “If I ever want to come back to this restaurant again and not get vicious looks from the staff, then I need to up the tip big time.” When we had all finished the meal and were preparing to go, I couldn’t believe the mess under my son’s chair and table. Picture a box of cheerios on the floor along with 18 packages of sugar and four straws. The mess, I swear, was two inches deep. I felt awful, but was exhausted and didn’t really feel like climbing under the table to pick up all the crap he threw on the ground.
I will admit that three waiters did have to clean up after all of us (I am horribly embarrassed about this) and what can you do, aside from tipping hugely and apologizing profusely (I think the waiters prefer the cash) to make up for your animal of a child at a restaurant.
So, for a few years there, after my daughter finally learned not to make a mess at a restaurant, I was tipping the average 15 to 18 percent. For the near future, if I decide to take the baby out for dinner again – sometimes a necessary evil – I am back to tipping 25 percent. Why is it fun to take a baby out in public for a meal again? Right, it’s just not.
Rebecca Eckler is one of Canada's most well-known journalists. She has been a columnist with the National Post, Canada's national newspaper, for five years, including a stint as a New York-based columnist and feature writer. She is the best-selling author of Knocked Up, Wiped!, Toddlers Gone Wild, How to Raise a Boyfriend and The Lucky Sperm Club. Rebecca lives in Toronto with her fiancé and family.