Temerity Jane
15. 07. 2011

Ok, I know this is one of the most tired topics in the entire world, but my kid is new, so you basically have to hear all of it all over again.

Another restaurant, this one in Pennsylvania, has banned children. Well, not all children, but children under six. I don’t see why this is still making news, because it’s happened before and isn’t exactly a novel idea anymore, but there you have it.

I was discussing it on Twitter with some people yesterday, and everyone I was talking to was totally in favor of the idea, because they are sane individuals, like myself, at least where restaurants and children are concerned.

However, I did see someone this morning saying that they thought that banning children from a restaurant was “disgusting.” Because… I don’t know why. Because children should be welcome everywhere? Because your children should be welcome everywhere? Because sometimes you want to go places that aren’t child appropriate but have no one to watch your kids while you go, so you have to take them with you, and if they were banned, you wouldn’t get to go where you want to go?

As far as I can tell, it comes down to that last reason, combined with the fact that some people really believe that their children are a delight, universally loved by everyone and no. No, they’re not. Really. REALLY.

Even though we have a kid, and have for two months now, basically making us experts, Phil and I are still firmly of the belief that there are places where children do not belong. Example – we’re both huge Harry Potter fans, but we didn’t go to see a midnight showing of the movie for two reasons. One, Penny doesn’t belong in a midnight movie. Two, we had already been asleep for three and a half hours.

I don’t doubt, though, that there were a bunch of babies and small children at different midnight showings around the country, and I think it’s probably because the parents just couldn’t wrap their minds around denying themselves something because of the baby. No, it’s definitely best to take the small kid along and possibly ruin the experience for everyone, because it definitely wouldn’t be fair if you had to miss it just because you have a kid.

Phil and I are also agreed upon the fact that we are definitely Leavers. You know, if you’re in a store or restaurant and your kid starts being a total shit, you leave. Leavers. Well, in a restaurant, first you can try taking them outside and walking them around a little bit before you leave, but assholery of the kind that will not be rewarded with a dinner out in public ends in Leaving. To go boxes or cancelled orders or whatever. Full cart in the store? Fine.

And don’t give me that “just wait til you’re actually IN the situation” shit like with the shopping cart thing. We still put our shopping carts away, and we would absolutely leave a restaurant or store if Penny was acting up in a way that was making everyone else in the whole place miserable, or, when she’s older, acting in a way that isn’t in line with the behavior we expect from her, whether or not she is disturbing everyone.

Something I heard ALL THE TIME as a waitress: A kid is just throwing this huge fit at the table, or throwing food, or knocking shit over, and the parent says to me, “Just ignore him. He’s only doing it for attention.”


I totally get that it would ruin a nice night out for Phil and I as well. And I totally get that leaving a full cart is embarrassing and having to come back later would be a total pain in the ass. And I AM bummed that we haven’t seen Harry Potter yet, and won’t get to experience it with all the rabid super fans (we’re going to the drive in to see it). But the difference between us and the people who don’t remove their poorly behaved children, or who show up to places and events that are clearly not for children is that we’re completely aware that “fairness” doesn’t come into play at all anymore.

Honestly, I just can’t think of why some parents are insistent on bringing their children to events where they clearly don’t belong or are actually totally unwelcome, other than the fact that they themselves don’t want to miss out, and can’t wrap their minds around the idea of having to pass on some of the more awesome events because they can’t leave their kids. Which, in my mind, comes down to “It’s not FAIR that YOU get to go and I DON’T, just because I have a kid, so I’m bringing him. Then it’s FAIR.” And that’s my generous assumption. The other assumption would be that someone is so self-absorbed and so self-important that they truly do not give a shit about the experience of others and are perfectly fine ruining it as long as they get to go where and do what they want, when they want.

Anyway, I’m annoyed just talking about it. Phil and I are Leavers and we will see Harry Potter at the drive in with the windows closed and Penny in the back, and don’t give me that “just wait until it’s you in the situation” crap because I am TELLING YOU – we’d leave.

Whatever. Here’s my kid.

Got a hot lead on a job as a mannequin at Penney’s.

I don’t know if you know this, Internet, but I don’t drink. At all. And you know, it’s kind of super awkward, and weirdly, it was only more awkward when I was pregnant and now breastfeeding.

When you’re with a bunch of people who are drinking, most of the time it is not even a thing if you order a diet soda instead of alcohol, but there are always those situations where there are one or two people who don’t seem to have progressed much past college age, who want everyone to drink because drinking is how you have a good time.

Those people will generally encourage you to come on! Just have one drink with us! And I say, I am having a drink and my drink is diet soda. But no, no, that’s not enough, it has to be alcohol to be a drink, and I say, well, I don’t drink.

With pregnancy and breastfeeding, there is always someone who wants to jump in and tell you, “You can have a drink you know. It’s okay to go ahead and have one.” Or to tell you about pumping and dumping, or what have you. And I reply, well, I don’t drink, soooo… “BUT YOU CAN HAVE ONE. IT’S FIIIIINE.”

Yeah, I don’t drink. So, no.

But you have to be careful when you say, “I don’t drink,” because that sentence leads to assumptions.

Assumption 1: I’m anti-alcohol and I’m sitting here, drinking my diet soda, and JUDGING YOU as you have a margarita or two.

Not true! I do not give half a crap if you choose to drink. Please, go ahead. Drink! I just don’t. I’m not anti-alcohol. I’m anti-me-having alcohol. As in, I won’t have any. You go ahead. I don’t care. You will not convince me to drink with you, but you go on with your bad self. Get a little crazy. Wear a leopard cowboy hat and “Woooo!” a little. I’ll watch.

Assumption 2: I am a recovering alcoholic.

Also not true! I’ve never had a problem with alcohol, other than the problems I have with people who continually try to cajole me into drinking alcohol after I’ve politely said, “No, thank you.”

What I need is an easy, polite way to convey that I don’t drink, without having people jump to either of those conclusions.

In most situations, it’s not necessary. Someone asks what I’m drinking, I say diet soda, and we all move on. But you know the people I’m talking about. The ones who kind of push for everyone to join in on the alcohol consumption, because they’ve associated alcohol with having a good time? Those people always push me to the point that I find myself needing a polite and firm way of saying, “I don’t drink.”

“I don’t drinkon it’s own should be enough, but it’s not always, because of the assumptions above. I don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable drinking AROUND me – I really am perfectly happy with diet soda and have zero investment in what anyone else drinks.

And look, I get that there’s nothing to be ashamed of about being an alcoholic in recovery, and I’m sorry if I offend anyone, but I’d really rather people not assume that I am or was an alcoholic. Because I’m not. And never was. So while I have nothing against alcoholics (which is a stupid thing to say, because, come on – I’m just being polite here), I don’t think it’s fair that I should allow myself to be thought of as an alcoholic or recovering alcoholic just because it’s easier than trying to get a VERY SIMPLE CONCEPT through to some people.

“But you used to drink! You drank that time, remember?” I do remember. I did used to drink. I also used to poop in my pants, but I gradually stopped doing that, too.

I don’t drink because I don’t like it. There is absolutely no alcoholic beverage that I prefer over the taste of diet soda. Diet soda is less expensive. I don’t feel like shit the next morning after drinking a little too much diet soda. And I hate – HATE – the feeling of being drunk. I hate it. Even slightly tipsy. I can’t stand it. I don’t even drink the alcoholic beverages in WoW – a VIDEO GAME – because the drunk effect is too realistic for me.

So I don’t want to lie (I’m allergic to alcohol, I have to get up early, I’m donating my liver tomorrow, etc), and I don’t want people to assume things. There’s got to be a way to say “I don’t drink” that doesn’t make anyone uncomfortable, doesn’t make anyone think I have a problem with alcohol, and shuts down the nagging to “just have one!”

I don’t know that there really is a way, though. Internet, you should know – some people just don’t drink. Even if they used to. No, not just one. None. Zero drinks. No judging, just no alcohol. Really. None at all. I can, I’m just not going to.

Be a peach and really get in my neck rolls, would you?

148 responses to “Leavers and non-drinkers.”

  1. Phancy says:

    Dear Abby just recently answered the question of how to tell people you aren’t drinking an alcoholic drink without it being a big fuuferahh. Sadly, her answers were not much better than what you came up with.
    And why is it so different from people who won’t drink drinks with sugar in them? No one flips when I ask for iced tea with no sugar. (Although I’ve never been the person who was not drinking alcohol, unless I was pregnant. So perhaps I cannot fully empathize.)
    We are leavers too, and are SO overly paranoid about it. In our old town, there was apparently one restaurant that was not welcoming to children, but had NO indication of that–it just seemed like a normal place. So there were apparently all these families that went there and were then told, after being seated WITH children, that they had no kids menu. I always figured they would have told the family at the door or something. Long story longer, we have even called up restaurants to ask if kids are welcome. We get some confused responses, but we feel better.

  2. Mugician13 says:

    Two things:

    “It’s not FAIR that YOU get to go and I DON’T, just because I have a kid, so I’m bringing him. Then it’s FAIR.” Nope… it switches the burden of “unfair” from you to EVERYONE ELSE AROUND YOU.

    And second, I think “Sorry, I’m donating my liver tomorrow,” would be the perfect way to end that conversation. Since no intelligent person would take you seriously, and view it as an attempt at humor, it’s not necessarily a lie. And if someone does take you seriously, well, that just opens up the whole evening [or at least the next 10 minutes] to severely mess with their head, which is always great fun.

  3. Rayne of terror says:

    If I’m going to something I know is a drinking event, like say a float trip on a river, and I plan on drinking my diet coke only I will brIng along a can cozy to disguise my beverage. No one questions what I’m drinking.

  4. Okay, okay, I have a few things to say here, but I’ve had a few drinks (hey!), but what I would like to know RIGHT NOW is: What’s with the Ken doll in the window sill?

  5. Nic says:

    I’m with Sarah, what’s up with Ken on the windowsill??!

    Also, I don’t really drink either (maybe one or two every couple of months at this point) and it’s really interesting to see how many questions I get about it. It’s not because I’m anti-alcohol, super religious or in recovery, I just don’t like the way it makes me feel, especially the day after (one can really mess up my sleep). I’m not opposed to other people drinking, I just don’t like it for me. Not to mention, I’ve been on and off of WW a good bit over the years and, to be very honest, I would much rather eat my calories (in chocolate or cheese form) than drink them. I’ve found that the best response is, “water is great for me tonight, thanks.” Adding the ‘tonight’ in seems to answer questions and it’s not an untruth, water is great for me tonight.

    For me it’s much harder to explain that I don’t drink anything with caffeine. For folks who rely on coffee to exist in the morning, me being chipper in the airport at 6 am is just plain confusing.

  6. Nancy says:

    Amen for leavers. We are leavers. We used to ALWAYS go out in public together with our son. He starts pitching a fit in the grocery store? Dad takes him to wait in the car while Mommy finishes. Restaurant? Again, Dad takes him out while Mom cancels/pays/gets to-go boxes/whatever. Everyone else deserves to have a fun time without our poorly acting child. We went to see the Dawn of the Dead remake in theaters very pre-baby days. There were toddlers and young children screaming in fear and the parents just told them to hush and so they could watch he movie. We actually have a theater here who stops playing kids movies at a certain time and any showing after 9 or 10 is for people a certain age and up only. I think this is amazingly awesome. Leavers end up with better behaved children, I think.

  7. Kelly says:

    You could say “I’m not having alcohol tonight, thanks!” or “Not right now,” or something of the sort. Thank you for being a leaver! I always feel so bad for those kids who are bawling away and the parent is either being super mean or ignoring them. I hope you enjoy the movie! I did =) I cried so much!

  8. Leah says:

    I can relate so closely with this topic that I came out of lurking to comment on it.

    Just tonight, I was out at a bar with some friends. I don’t drink, but I enjoy the company and these people already know I don’t drink and don’t pester me about it, so whatever. This bar has virgin drinks (of course), and me and the designated driver had already DISCUSSED the virgin drinks. So when the time came to order, I just said, “I’ll have what he’s having.” I figured he’d get something VIRGIN, right?

    The Designated Driver then ordered an actual, booze drink. A STRONG one. Knowing he had to drive later, knowing I don’t touch the stuff, and again, HE HAD TO DRIVE LATER. VERY SHORTLY LATER.


  9. LemonFresh says:

    YES on the “leaver” issue. Not an identical situation, but I waitress at a pretty fancy restaurant and one of my co-workers has two young kids (3 and 5, I think). Any time she says her husband is bringing them in for a bit is time for me to get my Patience Gear on. Yes, I understand you work here but your kids are NOT IN ANY WAY WELL-BEHAVED and this is NOT an appropriate restaurant for kids. She ignored her 5-year-old going behind the bar to “make a juice” for his sister, which involved him sticking his hand in the maraschino cherries and spilling ginger ale. He wasn’t supposed to be there but there were no consequences when he was, besides a few half-hearted scoldings. Just… what even… I HAVE NO WORDS ARGH.

    On a somewhat related note, apparently years ago the owner of the place (Greek, volatile temper) took the high chairs out into the parking lot and SMASHED them in front of a family who was leaving after their young kids had terrorized the restaurant for the whole meal. Kinda makes me laugh, a little.

    I have no awesome advice about the drinking thing. I don’t drink either, but I am lucky in that I rarely run in to anybody who is dumb about it. Maybe my kooky beverage choice of hot water puts them off? They must just think I’m weird.

    If pressed, I will sometimes say that my dad was an alcoholic, which is true, but I really don’t like talking about it and it makes me sound very… reactionary. I dunno, maybe you could stress that you prefer your soda?

  10. Allison says:

    I also don’t drink and run into the same problems but more than the saying I can have just ONE DRINK, assuming ill be the one to drive is what really pisses me off. Don’t get me wrong id love to make sure all of my drunk and disorderly friends get home OK, but back when I DID drink we took turns driving remember, let’s do that and have someone else at least PRETEND they are being responsible, you aren’t giving me gas money, just a headache… get a cab. Ok im done.

  11. squandra says:

    Maybe “I don’t like to drink” instead of “I don’t drink”? It’s pretty clear and concise. It’s true. But, we’re talking about the “Come ON! Have ONE!” people … I guess even that may be to subtle for them.

  12. Ron says:

    Considering how many responses you’ve had, and I haven’t bothered to try reading more than a couple. You may not ever actually see this, but if you do, I for the most part agree with your assessment of the children in public places argument, and your beliefs on why some people ignore some of these social graces. However, let me play devil’s advocate here and discuss a couple reasons you’ve left out. (Also, your daughter is completely adorable, if you ever get tired of her feel free to email us :) But really, here’s the thing, and over the next few months/years you MIGHT understand better, you might not, some children are just amazingly well behaved in public. Where was I? Oh yes, the thing, the thing is, not all children are the same. No child is born knowing how to behave, good behavior is taught. Not all children pick up on these lessons as easily as others, not all parents are as good at teaching them.

    Scene one: Your child is say, 4, you and Phil have been busy all week long, it’s Friday or Saturday and the absolute last thing either of you feels like doing is cooking, you’ve barely had time for a snack all day, you’re sick to death of fast food, so you pack up the kid and head to your favorite (kid friendly) restaurant. The problem is, tonight your kid doesn’t want to eat out. They are bored and restless in the restaurant. She wants to be anywhere but here. She’s acting out, and the problem is, if you leave early, you’re rewarding her acting out by giving her exactly what she wants, which is to leave. She’s a bit young now but you’ll discover soon enough that any time you reward bad behavior by giving in, the next time it will be 10x worse.

    In this case, it would be best for one of you to take the child to the car and sit until she settles down, but odds are you may end up eating in shifts, which sucks, especially when you don’t get a lot of time together as it is. And what happens if Phil isn’t there, if you’re a single mother/father, or what if Phil had some sort of work or family obligation or for whatever reason you were alone and dealing with this.

    You would be amazed at how quickly a 4yo acting out and pitching fits in a restaurant turns into a 12/14/16yo acting out and pitching fits. You HAVE to teach them to behave in public, or they’ll never learn. And sometimes that means sitting there and being embarrassed and possibly making the situation less comfortable for someone else. This is one of those cases where the whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing applies.

    Children have to learn to behave in public, and taking them out of public when they are misbehaving can make this lesson difficult, or impossible to learn.

    TJ Reply:

    I totally get what you’re saying, but I absolutely 100% disagree. No matter how old she is or WHY she is misbehaving, pitching a fit in public and ruining the experience of others in “the village” earns a trip home. Period. I won’t tell other diners, “Sorry you have to listen to this tantrum and can’t enjoy your meal, but I can’t take her home because that would be giving her what she wants, and you understand – our parenting trumps your pleasant evening.” Nope. No way. If she wants to go home and we give in, sure, we’re giving her what she wants, but I bet she wouldn’t want to spend the rest of the night sitting her in room when we got there, but that’s what would happen.

    Really, I do understand that you’re trying to come up with some situation where I’d stay in a restaurant when my kid was being awful, but I’m telling you – there isn’t one. Not a chance. Our need to “teach her a lesson” doesn’t trump the comfort of everyone else in the world, and she can easily be taught the same lesson at home. “The village” didn’t ask to be a part of raising my child, you know? And I won’t put it on them.

    John Reply:

    Precisely. The needs of One NEVER outweighs the needs of Many.

    Our kids are 6 & 11. When we go out, IF we take them with us, we’ll go to a child-friendly restaurant, and I assure you that I have embarrassed my wife by disciplining our kids in the restaurant if they dared to carry on.

    I cannot stand kids who scream in restaurants while their parents ignore them because “she’s just doing that go get attention”. No. Absolutely not. You’re there as a family, enjoying a meal together, and your child wants attention but you’re not giving it to her because that’s what she wants??? What kind of Failogic is that???

    Your child is disturbing the other patrons. You can either shut her up any way you can, and if you have to leave the restaurant to do so then do it, or, be an ignorant jerk.

    If the wife and I want to go out to a nice, not-child friendly restaurant, we’ll make plans with the in-laws to take the kids for the evening. And if the in-laws cannot take the kids then WE won’t go to that restaurant. It’s that simple. Of course we’re also not ignorant jerks who think it’s acceptable to take our children to inappropriate locations then ignore them while they disturb other people.

    Jess Reply:

    The moment anyone says ‘let me play Devils Advocate’ I think ‘oh great here comes another person who thinks it’s fun to wind other people up’.

    TJ is right…I have two of the little buggers and you know what? We leave. We either silence the situation entirely or we get up and walk out.

    And -I am- a single parent. You don’t get good manners and principles by coming up with alternate situations. You get them by applying the good manners consistently across the board.

    I promise you..the 4 year old who doesn’t want to be at dinner that one night -will- want to be out somewhere at some point and if they continue with the bad manners they will learn from consistency.

    Ron Reply:

    Not sure about the ‘fun to wind other people up’ but what’s the point in having a conversation if you don’t give a damn about the subject? If you want to talk about the weather, say hi to someone on a train/bus/subway, or in an elevator.

    Jess Reply:

    So why else would you do Devils Advocate..because inherently that means you don’t agree with the position you’re taking. You’re playing the ‘Devil’ after all.

    So in essence, what you’re doing is saying ‘oh I see you have a position you feel strongly about. I am going to take an opposite position, that I don’t actually support, counter your position and see your reaction to it’

    You might -feel- like Socrates, it is after all his nature to question the belief system of others and find out the root and cause of their thoughts..but in reality it is ‘fun to wind other people up’. Especially when it goes from ‘I’m playing Devil’s advocate’ to ‘You’ve gone too far’ because someone -disagrees- with you and stands with their belief system.

    Socrates did not tell people they did not understand his ‘why’ or even his ‘Devil’s Advocate’ position..he continued to ask why.

    Personally, I don’t think you were playing Devil’s Advocate. I think you were trying to argue your position and were using a method to seem innocuous, which is sadly the most common default in someone’s reasoning behind saying that phrase and hence my reaction to it.

    It’s absolutely fine to have a conversation about something you care about. It’s absolutely -not- fine to present it as an exercise in abstract examination, and then to become condescending when your argument fails to persuade.

    I give a damn about a lot of things, and in fact I give a damn about this thing in particular. But I don’t preface it with ‘I really don’t support this position’ because that is disingenuous.

    Ron Reply:

    In common parlance, a devil’s advocate is someone who, given a certain argument, takes a position he or she does not necessarily agree with, just for the sake of argument.

    In taking such position, the individual taking on the devil’s advocate role seeks to engage others in an argumentative discussion process. The purpose of such process is typically to test the quality of the original argument and identify weaknesses in its structure, and to use such information to either improve or abandon the original, opposing position.

    I was never condescending, except perhaps in my response to being called condescending, which was also what I was referring to when I implied she had gone to far. ***NOT*** to her defending her position.

    If I wanted to defend my own side to an argument, believe me, I would have no problem coming out and saying so. I’m MORE than capable of defending myself in an argument. And I have no qualms about expressing my own personal view when I feel it’s necessary or appropriate. I just wanted to have an interesting discussion on an interesting topic, which I did, and which I enjoyed, even if it did use up a fair amount of my spare time that day.

    When you find me in a public place letting my kid scream and carry on, feel free to call me a liar. Until then stfu, I was already done with this conversation.

    Ron Reply:

    Btw, the devil’s advocate definition was from wikipedia, (wouldn’t want to be accused of plagiarism on top of being condescending) not always the best source, but accurate enough for general use.

    Jess Reply:

    which…proves my point.

    Devil’s advocate is not taking the position of a passionate response. It’s dispassionate and intended to examine for weakness.

    Which you clearly were not in since you have strong feelings about the issue, which is clearly disingenuous.

    Jess Reply:

    also she didn’t tell call you condescending till after the ‘you’ve gone too far’ comment. So you -were- being condescending to her defending her position.

    Beyond that, it’s amazing to me that you seem to think that coming in here to ‘have an interesting discussion’ without knowing the party or their inclination for this sort of discussion..turning that discussion into personal insult and get all huffy when people call you out for being boorish is a viable use of your time.

    No one accused you of being a plagiarist, or even a liar.

    I am saying that you misused the term Devil’s Advocate, and that you behaved in a socially awkward manner in someone elses ‘living room’.

    However, since it is not -my- living room either, I’ll back myself out from further conversation as well and apologize to the host if my discussion offends her in any way.

    Enjoy your day.

    Ron Reply:

    The only “You’ve gone too far” comment I made was the one where I said “Now you’ve done it” which was a bit much I agree. However, it’s the first line, and easy to see that it’s a response to the prior comment which does in fact say that I was being condescending for claiming that she couldn’t know how she would react. It may have gotten a bit confusing based on the conversation splitting in a few places due to us responding to stuff at the same time, so my response my appear out of place. but I promise you it was a response to being called condescending.

    As for proving your point, you seem to be reading words that aren’t there. I see nothing that says a single word about being passionate or dispassionate or anything else that you mentioned. Also, this is not, and has not been, a black and white issue. I started out stating, and continue to stand by the fact, that I agree in almost all cases. Which means, YES in some cases I disagree. So I’m not 100% against my own position by taking the opposing. Devil’s advocate doesn’t REQUIRE or expect the person taking the position to be against it, it just ALLOWS them to.

    I didn’t say anyone accused me of being a plagiarist, I said I was attempting to prevent it from happening. Which was mostly a sarcastic way of carrying on with my being offended at being called condescending, but since you’ve insisted on carrying on that train, let’s put it to rest now:

    1. Acting in a way that betrays a feeling of patronizing superiority.
    2. (of an action) Demonstrating such an attitude. More »
    Dictionary.com – Answers.com – Merriam-Webster – The Free Dictionary

    At NO TIME WHATSOEVER have I implied that I’m better, or superior to anyone. If anything I’m protesting against the condescending nature of people who claim that non-leavers are horrible people. So please stop applying the term incorrectly.

    I am not, and have not been “huffy” with TJ, and this is NOT her living room, this is an internet blog, the only reason for having an internet blog is to make posts and see how people respond, nobody is required, or entitled to have an internet blog, I did not barge into her living room, or any other part of her home, this is a public place. She has been free to ask me to stop, or to simply not respond. She’s free to require people to register, or not allow comments at all if she doesn’t care what people think. If anything is ‘socially awkward’ it’s this personalization of a public space. And in retrospect, since you feel that way about it (however misplaced those feelings are), you are WAY out of line by calling me out at all. If you walked into MY living room, and called out one of MY guests I’d be pretty upset about it. Thanks for playing though.

    TJ Reply:

    You’re absolutely being rude and condescending at this point. You’ve said several times now that you’re finished with this discussion, but continue to validate my suspicion that you just! can’t! let go! if someone thinks you’re wrong. I feel like this is going to be an unending cycle for you, so for your own good, let’s just cut this off now. I feel embarrassed for you, and that’s uncomfortable for me.

    Thanks for playing.

    Jess Reply:

    It’s a last word thing for you Ron isn’t it?

    I bet it is.

  13. Ron says:

    Actually, you don’t quite seem to understand, I’m not necessarily trying to come up with such a situation, unless you have it happen to you, you can never REALLY know what you would do. It’s like saying, “you have two children in a burning building, there’s only time to save one, which one do you choose?” there’s no way to answer that. No way to know what you or anyone else would do unless it actually happened, and I would never want to find out.

    Now, as I said at the beginning, I agree for the most part and was playing devil’s advocate. My real point was, there’s more than one side, often more than two sides even, to every story. I guarantee that any time you’re out in public and you see a child that’s WAY to old to be having tantrums, having one, it’s a parent who gave in every time to avoid embarrassment or inconveniencing someone else. That said, I do agree with most of what you said, and would generally do the same things under the same circumstances. I’m not saying that it’s ok to sit there and do nothing while your kid has a screaming at the top of their lungs fit for 30 minutes in a restaurant. Our children are fairly well behaved in restaurants and theaters, our youngest is 7, we DID go see HP7p2 on opening night, in 3d. We did get our geeky official Harry Potter 3d glasses, which we did NOT recycle :) (we usually do of course) We had a good time. My point is, every child is different, and while it’s often the parent’s fault, it’s not always. Most of us are just doing the best we can with what we have, and not all of us have it as good as some. As for “the village”? you choose to be a part of raising children by living in society. We do not live in a vacuum, or a bubble, children are part of the world, and they do not always behave. You can choose to be a major part, and have your own, or volunteer for this or that. You can choose to have a minor part by putting up with some minor inconveniences from time to time in public places. You can choose to be offended and spoiled and obnoxious and look down on people who aren’t as lucky as you. There are lots of choices, and nobody’s situation is exactly the same as yours, or mine, so I try to be as tolerant and understanding as I can.

    TJ Reply:

    I did understand what you were saying the first time. I just did, and still do, disagree. Taking a child home when they’re misbehaving in public is only “giving in” if there are no consequences for the behavior. Believe me, if Penny is so misbehaved that we need to leave a public situation, going home is not the only consequence she’ll face.

    As for not knowing what I’ll do until I’m in the situation, that’s not true. I am telling you – my husband and I absolutely would not tolerate rude and disruptive behavior from our kid in a restaurant, store, etc. We wouldn’t. It’s a hard line with us. Telling us that we don’t actually know what we’d do is condescending. Before I had the baby, someone tried to tell me that I wouldn’t put my shopping cart away every time once I had the kid. Of course I will, and do, because it’s common courtesy, and children are not an excuse to throw manners out the window.

    I know children don’t always behave. My child’s poor behavior is my problem to deal with, not the rest of the world’s. A “minor inconvenience” is one thing. Embarrassing, disruptive and rude behavior is another, and simply won’t be tolerated.

    And of course there is more to one side of every story and there may be a reason I don’t know why someone ELSE’S kid is misbehaving, but I’m not talking about someone else’s kid. I’m talking about mine. And just like my parents with me, I would leave. They did it, and my brother, sister and I are exceedingly polite individuals who knew better than to behave poorly in public. I intend to do the same with my kid and have no reason not to expect the same results.

    Allowing your child to misbehave in public to the disruption of others, barring extremely special circumstances such as a special needs child, smacks of entitlement and selfishness. The world is your teaching environment for your kid only up to the point that it ruins things for others. Then the kid needs to be taught whatever lesson at home.

    Ron Reply:

    Ok, now you’ve done it:

    Once again you’re still missing the point, you seem to be arguing with me when I wasn’t arguing with you in the first place. First of all, your post talks about other people’s behavior in a certain situation, and how you would NEVER behave that way. I’m not the one being condescending, you are, and I’m not sure you understand the meaning of the word. Please do not insult me with a word you do not know how to use. The only way my saying “You can not know what you would do under X, Y, or Z circumstances” is condescending would be if I implied that *I* know what I would do, and therefore am somehow better than you. To be condescending, you have to imply superiority, I’m saying that NO ONE knows what they would do under another person’s circumstances, because the only way you would be in another person’s exact circumstances is if you made the exact same choices leading up to that time and event, in which case you would almost definitely continue to make the exact same choices because each and every choice we make is a culmination of every choice we’ve made so far… and that’s where we run into the problem. You claim to be talking about what YOU would do under a certain circumstance which you have never experienced and can not possibly understand. All I’m saying is that everyone’s circumstances are unique, and people should try to be considerate, and give people the benefit of the doubt when possible. In no way at any time have I tried to imply that it’s ok to let children behave in an extremely disruptive manner. There are many extremes of bad behavior, and a lot of middle ground, I’m saying that there are times when leaving is not the best way to deal with a situation, and that not all situations require leaving in order to be dealt with effectively.

    TJ Reply:

    Hahaha, now I’ve done it? Seriously?

    I’m not arguing with you, I’m disagreeing with you, and I continue to.

    I absolutely can tell you how I will raise my daughter. I absolutely can tell you how I will react if she makes a disruption in public. We left a restaurant just last night, actually, for the first time, because she was crying and we didn’t want to subject other diners to it. We took our food home.

    As for what you said and what you didn’t say:

    “And sometimes that means sitting there and being embarrassed and possibly making the situation less comfortable for someone else. This is one of those cases where the whole “it takes a village to raise a child” thing applies.”

    That, to me, implies that it’s all right – IMPORTANT, even – to let a child act disruptive in public so that you can avoid “giving in” by taking the child home, because giving in will only lead to the same behavior in the future. And the “it takes a village” reference meaning that other people will just have to deal with it, because we’re all in this together, right?

    No, for me, it NEVER means that. Never. It is never acceptable, in my mind, to ruin the experience of other diners (using the restaurant scenario in this case) because my kid is acting out and it “sucks” to eat in shifts or it’s inconvenient to take her home because I didn’t feel like cooking. Kids are inconvenient. Yes, there are special circumstances, as I said – special needs children being the main one – where it can’t be helped. However, your point in an earlier comment about some kids not being as well behaved as others? Yeah, those kids, the ones who can’t handle behaving in restaurants? They shouldn’t be in restaurants. You can absolutely teach your child to be a respectful, polite human being at home. He doesn’t need to be IN a restaurant to know how to eat, stay in his seat until he’s finished, and not throw things or scream. It’s a parent’s responsibility to teach that AT HOME before going out.

    TELL ME a circumstance where a screaming, disruptive, rude child in a restaurant shouldn’t be taken home or at least outside until they calm down, even if it means eating in shifts, or alone. Seriously. Name one.

    And again, don’t tell me I don’t know what I’ll do in any given situation. In this one, I absolutely do. They’re called principles. I stick to mine. Even when it’s no fun.

    When a kid is being a little brat in a restaurant and ruining MY meal, I definitely am offended. Does that make me obnoxious? Maybe, but not nearly as obnoxious as parents who think it’s okay for their child to ruin my meal.

    As for me missing the point, I’m not. You keep changing your point. I’ve disagreed with all of them. You seem to have a problem with me refusing to accept your point of view.

    Ron Reply:

    My point hasn’t changed, I’ve changed my approach in order to try to get you to see what I’m trying to say, which you still don’t but that’s ok, because I’m tired of trying, but it’s been fun, we should do this again some time.

    One last recap before I call it a night:

    My responses have never been about you, using that example with you in my first post was a bad idea because it made it seem like I was talking about you.

    Yes, you can say, “If MY kid was screaming in a restaurant I would walk out, or whatever”. What you can not do, is look at someone else’s situation, and look down on them for what they do or do not do and say “well if I was them, I would do this differently” because if you were them, you would do exactly what they are doing, because the only reason you would be in that exact situation, would be because you made the same choices and had the same factors and influences affecting your choices.

    And yes, under some circumstances I do believe a certain (relatively small) amount of inconvenience can and should be tolerated. Even if you were to instantly rush your child outside there would be some small amount of inconvenience to people who weren’t tolerant, and I feel some attempt should be made to correct the child’s behavior quickly and efficiently before rushing them out the door, now if all that fails within a reasonable amount of time, removing the child from the situation is the appropriate response. I did not say I disagree with the whole: restaurants not allowing young children in. Or that children and their disruptions should be tolerated everywhere. Or that leaving was never the correct course of action. In fact I started out by saying that I agree with you, and would do and have done the same thing on more than one occasion. I did start out, and repeated in at least one additional response, saying that I was playing “devil’s advocate” perhaps you are not familiar with the term. It’s used in debating to describe someone taking on an opposing viewpoint whether they agree with it or not, in order to present another view of a situation and further understanding of both sides.

    The points I have brought up that I do agree with are:

    You shouldn’t judge other people’s behavior based solely on your own experience, you must look beyond yourself and realize that you can’t possibly know everything that’s going on, and try to be tolerant, not judgmental.

    And that not all cases of misbehavior warrant ‘leaving’

    My point has never been to make you say there might be a circumstance under which you might allow your child to behave in such a way. My goal was to present another point of view and express that just because someone’s child misbehaves and they don’t immediately flee the area, they shouldn’t necessarily be vilified publicly and cursed to spend eternity in hell.

    TJ Reply:

    And if I sound testy, I really don’t mean to, I’m just not sure to make MY point without using strong absolutes because… I feel extremely strongly on this subject – it’s no different than the way I was raised and I plan to stick to it as strictly as my parents did.

    Ron Reply:

    Which is part of my point, you had a good foundation to work with. Not everyone is so lucky, there are a lot of people with less than perfect parents, some with considerably horrible parents, they have to learn as they go and try to do better than they received. Kids don’t come with a handbook, and some people don’t have anything to go on. I try to assume that the vast majority of people are trying to do the best they can for and by their kids.

    Random Nerdfighter Reply:

    Eleventy gallons of E-coke for you, TJ, because mansplainers suck donkey’s balls.

    As you were.

  14. Holly says:

    If you figure out how to make the “I don’t drink, but not for any particular reason” declaration any less awkward, please let me know. I’m in the same boat. I don’t drink because I have a genetic condition which makes my body not process things like alcohol and caffeine and red meat well. I try to avoid these things as a result.

    I even had a friend say that they appreciated going out with me because they didn’t feel like it was appropriate to get totally wasted with non-drinkers, and whenever they went out with their “drinker” friends they just drank until they couldn’t see straight. Most awkward compliment/situation ever.

  15. Brook says:

    Your child’s head is tilty

    TJ Reply:

    Maybe your head is tilty, making her head APPEAR tilty. Did you think of that, tilty head?

    sister Reply:

    HA! tilty head. watch what you say about my niece! or i will permanently tilt your head!

    Ron Reply:

    She’s 2 months old! Her head is supposed to be tilty, children that young have not developed the skills and muscle strength to maintain an upright posture. She’s adorable. And I have to agree with TJ’s response, it’s probably just you. :)

  16. Superjules says:

    I didn’t drink in high school or, really, for the first couple years of college. People would give me weird looks and try and talk me into it but the fact was that I hated how all alcohol tasted. I thought it was gross. I do drink now, but I’m also perfectly happy ordering a Shirley Temple at a bar. That’s my go-to designated driver drink.

    I like how you stand your ground even when people try to argue with you (basically using variations of the JUST WAIT argument).

    Staciepo Reply:

    My fiance is the same- he will drink juice-like wines, but after some time I realized he doesn’t like that alcohol bite/tang that most alcoholic drinks have. He just drinks soda like its his job!

    And I agree on the holding the ground thing- fabulous sticking your guns!

  17. jonniker says:

    Adam doesn’t drink at all, and he deals with the same thing. We’re ADULTS with CHILDREN and people still get self-conscious around him because he doesn’t drink. HE DOESN’T LIKE IT. SO WHAT? I’m not a big drinker by any means (two glasses of wine, and I’ve got a hangover), but I DO drink, and HE DOES NOT CARE. I PROMISE.

    We’re leavers, too, unless we’re there with family and are stuck, which has happened twice. So what we end up doing is wandering around outside with her until we CAN leave. Believe me, that blows, because I think that does teach her that she can just not sit down for an entire meal and get to walk outside instead, which she loves. But not enough to force her to scream her way through dinner, my God.

    As for that restaurant, my only beef is that the age limit is six. I think four is probably more reasonable, as I know many, many four-year-olds who are more than capable of sitting through a meal. Five, too, is pretty mature, dinner-table-wise. But I get that he had to make the cutoff somewhere.

    The only thing I found funny about it is that it’s, um, not really a fine dining establishment. It’s a GOLF TAVERN, am I getting this right? I don’t know why that strikes me as hilarious, like he’s trying to turn his burger joint into Maison Robert.

    jonniker Reply:

    And by “beef” I mean, well, he could have probably pissed fewer people off by going with four, but it’s not like I personally care. Honestly, we avoid going out with Sam at this age to ANYWHERE that is not super kid friendly, and by that I mean, Friendly’s. Food courts. Cracker Barrels. She’s TWO. Going to a restaurant with her — a full sit down one — is NOT FUN, if you are a parent who DOES care about the comfort of other patrons. You spend the whole time on Behavior Alert and preparing to Leave, if necessary.

    To the dude above who wants to teach their kid how to sit and behave in restaurants, DO IT IN A FRIENDLY’S OR A CRACKER BARREL. Or a food court. Seriously. These are excellent places to reinforce good behavior without risking other people’s meal enjoyment. WITHIN REASON, of course. Don’t think I haven’t left a Friendly’s, because I totally have.

  18. Okay, I’m back (and still curious about the Ken doll.)

    I wrote a post about this recently, the to leave or not to leave debate, and while I certainly believe I’m a Leaver, I do have an internal checklist I’d go through first. (Unless she was SCREAMING, in which case, duh, Leave.)

    Also, we’ve been really taking advantage of the newborn stage and taking her places that probably aren’t kid-friendly. No late night (or anytime) movies, but day trips to Napa, nice lunches, etc. Last night (early evening) we took her on a speakeasy tour. We just know that we might be leaving at any moment and are okay with that.

    I guess I have the “my money’s still green” mentality and figure if our kid isn’t bothering anyone (and by this I mean, she is sleeping nearly the entire time), then there’s no reason a baby shouldn’t be able to sit in her seat next to the table while I have a glass of champagne.

    The other day we went to lunch and an older couple walked in and had their choice of sitting by us or by a couple with two young kids. You could see them debating: Baby or kids, baby or kids? They really didn’t want to sit by EITHER of us, but ultimately sat by us and by the end of the meal, were quite charmed by LG’s good behavior.

    I just don’t like people assuming that because there’s a baby seat, that automatically means a loud and disruptive meal, you know? Yes, I’ll take my baby to a restaurant, but I’m not an asshole who’ll let her sit there and scream.

    I also still return my shopping cart.

    TJ Reply:

    We are the SAME WAY with taking advantage of the newborn thing. We take Penny EVERYWHERE. She sleeps through everything or just looks around. She got fussy at dinner the other night and we decided to leave, both because personally, I find the crying of newborns who are not my own to be quite piercing, and also because she was hungry. But yeah, I agree with you. I don’t need to get the hairy eyeball from people BEFORE my kid starts being a pain. I don’t even think twice about sitting near children and babies until they start to act up.

  19. Danell says:

    I still can’t get behind comparing a restaurant to the grocery store. Two totally different scenarios. Yes, we are leavers. We RARELY attempt restaurants and would ALWAYS leave at the drop of a hat if needed. But the grocery store? Well, there was one horrifying, terrible time that I didn’t…COULDN’T…leave.

    My first child is the reason we wanted 3 kids. He was a perfect baby, and is still a good kid. My second child is the reason we won’t have 3- if I had another like her I probably wouldn’t survive. She isn’t special needs but she is “spirited.”. We are in a perpetual state of exhaustion raising her. And yes, I have always had standards about how I would raise kids, what I would allow and not allow, the types of punishments I would use, etc…and I absolutely try to stick with those. I have spent many, many nights sobbing because she makes me feel like a horrible parent. Even MY MOM, whom I was ALWAYS on the same page with regarding parenting, causes me frustration. I HAVE NOT SUDDENLY CHANGED MY PARENTING BELIEFS, THIS KID REALLY IS JUST THIS HARD.
    For example, there was an evening after work when I ended up at the grocery store, both kids in the cart, completely exhausted, husband out of town, cart also FULL of groceries when she decided to have a meltdown…and I just couldn’t take the thought of leaving: there were no groceries in the house, no one to watch the kids if I were to abandon the cart and come back later (like we normally would do), and I was just SO TIRED. So frankly, I didn’t really care at that point if I ruined the other shoppers checking out experience. I didn’t want to have to come back and start all over again. (Not to mention my very excellent son has to get drug out of stores as an innocent by-stander to his sisters behavior). So I just stood there sobbing, checking out with one hand while wrangling my beastly child with the other. It was, quite frankly, one of the worst evenings of my life. I really have leaned a little more towards Ron’s camp since then.

    TJ Reply:

    Well, again, special circumstances. I’m not saying you have a special needs child, but from the sound of it, wouldn’t you say she’s a pretty… uncommon child? And I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course. You know what I mean. You say she’s a challenge. She sounds pretty unique, as far as the average kid goes.

    There are assholes out there who think any noise, any tantrum from a kid is terrible and shouldn’t happen in public, and I do admit that screeching and crying and carrying on DOES get under my skin, but I’m a pretty average person so I have to assume most people are like me. Is it annoying? Yes, of course. In any situation. But as I said, there ARE special circumstances, and I think the average person – like myself – can look and assess reasonably fairly. A kid pitching a fit at a restaurant table while his parents have some drinks and ignored him? Now I’m annoyed AND pissed at the asshole parents. A mother doing her flat out damndest to wrestle a child through the checkout and out of the store under extremely trying circumstances? I’d like to think that most (not all, of course, but most) people are like me and, even if annoyed by the sound (because, come on, I can’t really turn THAT off), it’s tempered by some understanding.

    Of course this blog post was a generalization and can’t cover every circumstance ever, which is how bloggers always end up getting into arguments (I’m sorry, “discussions”) with people like Ron. It’s the nature of blogging, I can’t (and kind of don’t want to have to) account for every possible individual set of circumstances just to write a post. However, I do think something like that is covered under “special circumstances,” and I do think the average person (again, not all) is prepared to cut slack where slack-cutting is warranted, you know?

    Danell Reply:

    I know, I’m sorry…I wasn’t really trying to contribute to any arguments. I just feel a lot of angst now, having this kid. Because I really do have the same standards and beliefs you describe. She just makes it really hard. Karma kickin’ me in the ass, I guess. :)

    jonniker Reply:

    I honestly think the game changes completely when you have two kids. I do. And I tend to be more lenient in places like the grocery store, or even the mall, if a kid is throwing a fit. In that case, I don’t know that I would necessarily be a Leaver (I haven’t had to be in that spot, as my kid loves shopping, most of the time). I had one incident where Sam laid down and threw a fit while we were checking out at Target, but hell if I was going to be a Leaver when I was already leaving.

    Grocery stores, Target, etc., I tend to give parents the freedom to discipline their kids there, even if it means letting them throw a fit to the detriment of other shoppers. I feel like there is a difference there — at a restaurant, you’re paying for a peaceful experience. You are PAYING for the experience of eating out. If my grocery shopping experience is made slightly less pleasant by a kid throwing a fit in an aisle I am free to leave and move on to a different aisle. At a restaurant, OH HELL NO.

    At restaurants, here’s where I am a total hypocritical hairy-eyeball type. I will SPECIFICALLY ASK to be seated nowhere near children at a restaurant when I am out without my child. The reason being is that I am paying OUT THE ASS, not just for the restaurant, but for a babysitter so that I can have a child-free evening. I know I am a total doucheface here, but I don’t want to be seated next to a newborn. Or a toddler. Or even a five-year-old. I want to be in my own fantasy land where no children exist.

    I KNOW.

    Kate Reply:

    Even though I described myself as a leaver earlier, this makes me think of a time I didn’t leave the grocery store. I had my three year old and my infant, and the infant was getting hungry, so started crying (and he’s an incredibly loud baby), and the three year old was just…I don’t know, not being horrible, but not being good, either. She kept getting in people’s way, and whining about wanting ice cream, and not listening, and between that and the baby crying I was more or less a frazzled mess. I was still getting used to having two of them.

    I didn’t leave, though. My husband wasn’t around, and I needed to buy dinner and get home to feed the baby. So I did, we left, and order was restored.

    In a restaurant, though – there has never been extenuating circumstance. And I’ve left non-grocery stores before, too.

    Ron Reply:

    Unfortunately TJ you might be surprised how many ‘average’ people DON’T cut anyone some slack, and would have looked at her situation the same way you and most of the people agreeing with you sounded in your blog and their responses. Which is like anyone letting their child behave like that, and continuing to go about their business is a horrible person, a horrible parent, a horrible member of society, and I’m sure there were people in that grocery store giving her dirty looks and whispering horrible things about her the whole time… As if she wasn’t already embarrassed and feeling bad enough in general.

    Now, there are people who let their kids run wild and wreck stuff, misbehave in all sorts of unruly ways, be disruptive and even somewhat violent. Those people I have no sympathy for. And of course like everything there are different levels, for example, I’d “leave” Olive Garden or Red Lobster (Both of which DO have children’s menus.. with crayons and such :) btw) a lot faster than I’d leave the Play Place at Mcdonalds if my kid was acting up.

    Ron Reply:

    I meant to add somewhere in there that this is exactly why I felt a need to post an opposing view.

  20. Jo says:

    I love you. That is all.

  21. drhoctor2 says:

    I’m a leaver. I’ll even leave w/ your kids if necessary. I put it down to my laziness tho, lazy parenting proponent here. Am I going to be incredibly stressed out and have to lay down a bunch of disiplinary stuff that I will have to follow thru on for (possibly) days ?( I follow thru )is my self questionaire. If the answer is even remotely yes-possible, other plans are made.
    I protest the “takes a village ” thing. Nope. No, it does not . It takes me raising my kids. The village can raise their own damn kids. I GOT this. I, also, have no right whatsoever to make another person uncomfortable in public esp. if they’re PAYING money for being there.
    As for alcohol, not drinking usually here also. I go with.. I don’t like the effect. I do love Swistles come back, tho.
    Someone mentioned children in bars. I am the asshole who will go to the bartender, manager,that parent… whoEVER and make them leave. MAKE THEM LEAVE. Back in my pre kid days the only place I could be sure would be kid free was a bar. NO KIDS here. Thank you and done. Have alkie mom in background which only inflames my righteous get that kid outta here syndrome for real. But, really, I don’t want to interact with kids? A bar oughta be a sure bet.

    Alexa Reply:

    Dr. H:

    I am a DEFINITE leaver/not-taker (at a certain age, Simone was basically feral and not fit for human company). Now that she is older and able to behave like a reasonably rational being we take her out more often, and one of our favorite places (nearby, veggie options for my husband) is, technically speaking, a bar. But! It is a bar attached to a fancy restaurant–we would never take her into the fancy restaurant itself, and when we go to the bar we always, always, ALWAYS head to the (empty at such an early hour) basement lounge, specifically so she will not disturb the patrons of the bar-proper with her incessant-questioning-that-devolves-into-ontology about when the French fries will arrive. Is this wrong? (I wasn’t aware of the bar rule! I strive to Not Annoy!) I am sort of retroactively mortified now.

    drhoctor2 Reply:

    Alexa !! Hey, read your blog and love your writing. Simone is the precious !!I’m feeling all gushy that you replied to me even if I retro mortified you !!
    Anyway, I think you’ve got one of my few exceptions here…Early hours, neighborhood, fancy restaurant attached..like a VFW picnic or Fairgrounds Beer tent ..it’s kind of excluded from my list of.. “I’m here for the adults ONLY ambiance and I don’t ever want kids around when I’m drinking” deal. Not that I was always in dive bars or such but “adult beverages available” places and rock and roll or pool table bars are separate categories for me. I kind of put some sports bars in family friendly categories if you know what I mean ? So, feel free to demortify and enjoy the near to endless wait for french fries. (love Simone, for real, the cutiest !!)

  22. Carla Hinkle says:

    What this topic reminds me is that I (and I’m not saying YOU, but me) have been not very reliable in predicting what Parenting Standards I’ll stick to through thick and thin, and which I have abandoned at the side of the road.

    Before I had kids, I had a bunch of Parenting Standards. Now that I actually HAVE kids, I have less. Some things — including, generally, leaving when kids melt down in a restaurant — I stick to pretty firmly. Or bedtime. Pre-kids, I always thought “Kids should have a firm bedtime! Get them down at the same, reasonable hour every night! Adults have adult time!” And I really do still believe this one, and pretty much stick with it.

    Others, not so much. I used to think “TV is awful! Children should not watch TV! Or as little as possible and only educational!” This one has sloooowly slipped over the years and now I TRY to limit TV but deep in my heart, I just don’t care that much anymore if the kids watch TV.

    This is not exactly here nor there, but before I had kids, I honestly couldn’t have predicted that Firm Bedtime would stick and No TV would go the way of the dodo. I’m not saying your being a Leaver won’t stick, as I’m generally a Leaver too and it has stuck, and I have many Parenting Standards that have lasted. But it has been an interesting “journey” (for lack of a less douche-y word) that I have been a poor self-predictor of what would stick and what wouldn’t.

    drhoctor2 Reply:

    As Veronica mentioned, I’m more “tolerant” of my own and others kids lesser melt downs in grocery stores. I DO judge the beejeezusses out of the parents tho’, I do agree with TJ”s assessment of giving the kid attention, I see a lot of kids acting up/out because or while their parents are studiously ignoring them. Cause and effect, there, I think.
    I know kids hit an age where you really can’t take them anywhere. Round 2 ish for my guys. Walmart at Christmas type stuff where they just can’t handle not being able to get at whwt they see. Developmental vs bad parebnt..bad kid.
    I didn’t have kids till I was 30, we had a younger set born in my family when I was 11 and I made a virtual FORTUNE babysitting back in the day..all this to say that actually, in my case, MOST of what I thought I would stick to, I stuck to. Only, I think, because I’d already had so much experience w/ little kids so I understood that it’s a flexible parenting line that seems to work in many situations.
    I look more back on the ..when I thought of the things I would say to my kids.. “If you put the dog’s testicles in your brother’s face AGAIN you’re off the nintendo when we get home !! ” never came up.

    (He was grounded off the nintendo when we got home…guess it was worth it….:)

  23. Josefina says:

    I had friends who were leavers, and I felt like their daughter would just start acting really bratty when she wanted to leave somewhere, which irritated me. I feel that I’m a semi-leaver because I try to remove the kid to a more private location (car, private room, etc) to get himself together, but darned if we are leaving altogether because he decided he doesn’t feel like being there. There are other people in the family besides the child, and our children need to learn they don’t always get to dictate what we do. That said, we did not really go nice places when they were little, and by nice places I mean non-fast-food restaurants, or even nicer stores. As they got older, we gradually introduced them to nicer places with a deliberate objective to train them how to behave there. I think, though, that the way you plan to Leave makes me re-think the policy. Leaving PLUS consequences at home seems like it could work very well.

    I have recently become a non-drinker (I also get the muscle soreness and queasy feeling that Swistle mentioned), and I have only had to decline alcohol in public once so far. Yes, the people became pretty desperate for me to drink. It was uncomfortable.

    Ron Reply:

    This is also something I was trying to get at, a lot of people don’t realize how manipulative kids can be. They quickly learn what happens when they do certain things, “Hey, if I make a scene when I’m someplace I don’t want to be, I get to leave!” And yes, doing the whole, ‘straight to your room’ thing when we get home CAN help, but kids quickly learn that stuff too, and what do you do when any reasonable punishment isn’t enough to prevent them from misbehaving?

    And it starts from the moment they are born. Infants that are required to stay in intensive care have to be taught to cry, they don’t get that, “When I cry, mommy or daddy will come check on me” feedback, so they simply don’t cry. Which might sound like a wonderful thing, and is where some of that “Just ignore it” crap comes from. The truth is, once they’ve learned the behavior, the normally use it when they NEED something, changed, fed, or just attention. Which is why they actually want you to teach the baby to cry in those situations. But anyway I’m getting into a whole other subject here.

    The point is, and always has been: “Leaving is fine, and good, and wonderful, but it’s not always the best course of action for every situation” You need to assess your situation, the environment, yourself, and your child(ren).

    Anyway, I didn’t intend to continue writing on this but it was nice to see some people who actually see some of the stuff I was talking about.

    I do not, and am not saying it’s ok to, allow my children to be disruptive for any length of time in a location where it’s completely inappropriate.

    Let’s go into a good example I’ve seen sort of come up, someone mentioned Christmas time and shopping with young children. Our youngest went through a phase where every time he saw something he wanted, and couldn’t have it, he would have a fit. People claim that you can teach all this behavior without leaving the house, here is where I call BS. How do you teach a child that he can’t have every toy on the shelf at home? Once in a while we’d get him something, he was little, and he was being good, so the idea was to reward him for that. That quickly turned into “I should get a toy every time we go shopping” which wasn’t happening, even if we could have afforded it. So we had to deal with several embarrassing shopping excursions (and even an occasional leaving with a shopping cart full of crap) ourselves in order for him to learn the lesson that no means no. But if we had left every time he never would have learned to make it through shopping without getting a toy. But now we can go through a store and say no without any of that (there will occasionally be some pouting or sulking involved), while I still see kids from 7 to teenage years pitching fits about not getting something.

    And I’ve carried on some more, ok, it was nice chatting with you all, some more than others but it’s been fun in any case.

  24. Nancy P says:

    I love this post! I agree with you 100% on both topics.
    re: the drinking thing. I DRIVES ME CRAZY when people “insist” that someone else drinks. WTF?
    I do drink but I can take it or leave it and do not care one bit if other people are drinking or not. This topic almost gets me more riled up than the kid one. Oy but don’t get me started. :)

  25. Nona says:

    This must be said: Your baby girl is beyond adorable.

    Your plan to be a “leaver” is a good one. I raised my daughter that way and she learned to behave properly in public.

  26. Marie Green says:

    Oh man, I’m going to have to come back later and read these comments, as I assume they are awesome, but I don’t have time now.

    Just wanted to say 2 things: 1. We’re leavers, too. Or “take outside and shape-it-uppers”. Luckily, our kids have behaved poorly enough to actually leave only a few times (usually a talk outside or a threat of consequence is enough) (and luckily our babies were not public screamers). However, in the case of a cart full of groceries, I think I would stay and pay for the groceries. I mean, usually there’s something (or SEVERAL SOMETHINGS) in that cart that I need TODAY, and I’m not so worried about another person’s grocery shopping experience to avoid subjecting them to a few minutes of my kid crying while I finished up business. Luckily, it hasn’t really happened that my kid(s) made a MAJOR scene in a grocery store.

    2. I have several friends that don’t drink and I don’t think anything of it. But if I think back, upon FIRST learning that they don’t drink, I did wonder one of the two things you said. I wish I didn’t, but I DID!

  27. cindy w says:

    I don’t know that I am a Leaver, so much as I am a “remove the child from the scene and give her a stern talk in order to correct the behavior.” Then when she’s ready to act like a normal member of society, we resume what we were doing.

    My kid is the type that usually has a meltdown as we’re already leaving (especially at Target, I get the, “But I want to go look at the toooooys again!!” fit), so in that case, the Leaving is implied. But I have had to carry her out of more than one store. Not so much now that she’s 4, but that 2 year-old phase was ROUGH, man.

    It’s a weird thing, though, now that I have kids myself (ha, kidS, it still weirds me out to see that word in plural form). When I see a child having a tantrum in public? My reaction is not to blame the parents or think that the kid is a miscreant. Honestly, my main thought is, “Oh thank God that it isn’t my kid this time.”

    Delicia Reply:

    Honestly, my main thought is, “Oh thank God that it isn’t my kid this time.”

    Yep, I usually have a mixture of pity, annoyance, and RELIEF that I don’t have to deal with it.

    Jo Reply:

    “Oh thank God that it isn’t my kid this time.”

    AMEN to that.

  28. Sarah Lena says:


    (A little late to this party, but man, it made for awesome Monday morning reading.)

  29. Jo says:

    If we all just agree to agree with Ron do you think he will stop talking?

  30. Jo says:

    Oh nevermind. Sounds like he’s been put down for his nap. ;)

  31. yes, leaver here too, although I’m with Jonna and it does depend on the place/situation. Like, mcdonalds? Sorry, I’ll probably stay, even if that elderly couple is giving me dirty looks. Josie is a LOUD TALKER and I need places where we can practice our quiet voice. supermarket I generally stay, unless it is ridiculously egregious behavior.

    The thing that irritated me about that no kids rule is that I had a baby/toddler who was AMAZING in restaurants. Excellent and incredible, and loves food and eats everything. I have been thanked countless times for his amazing behavior in restaurants and airplanes and all that. Incidentally, this was not of my doing. He came out like this. Anyway, if there was somewhere we wanted to go and were told we couldn’t because of gabe, I would have been annoyed. And the no kids in first class thing also annoys me for the same reason, although it’s not like I ever travel first class, but regardless, it’s the principle.

    I just feel like there are plenty of adults who annoy me and I can’t institute rules against them, and they don’t even have the excuse that they are kids! Just assholes. I feel like lately there is a lot of general intolerance abounding with people, and maybe we need to tone it down a notch. And this is coming from a parent who is very concerned about her kid bothering other people.

  32. Oh oh oh, and I forgot! I also don’t drink and am often put in the same position! I’ve found that saying “I don’t really like alcohol” generally gets people to back off. Sometimes they’ll argue with me about maybe I would like wine or liquor or whatever, but mostly they let it go.

  33. Megan says:

    I am somewhat of a leaver, but somewhat not. And my husband doesn’t always agree about discipline, which makes it challenging.

    Example, when my 2.5 daughter started spitting on her plate at a dinner out (at IHOP, thank God) a couple of weeks ago – you can bet she was removed to the car. And she was upset about it.

    However, if she started acting up when I had a full cart at the grocery store (when I’m there with my infant), you can bet I am NOT leaving without my groceries. It’s hard enough to get through that once a week, let alone have to do it twice. And if the cart is full, we are pretty close to leaving already.

    I think parenting is situational and you have to do what the situation calls for. If leaving would have an effect or solve the situation, then yes, we would leave. But I think you need to anticipate – my child can be wonderfully well behaved in nice restaurants, or miserable in fast food places.

    We do our best to make it work so that everyone enjoys themselves – we go out earlier, when the parent/children crowd is out, we go to more family places. But I also have the “my money is green too” feeling and just because my child is being a little silly, I shouldn’t have to cut my night short. And generally my kid is pretty well behaved.

  34. Oh and last thing… When gabe was a baby I used to go to Starbucks to sit with him and maybe a friend and there were always tons of moms with babies in the mornings on weekdays. Anyway, I needed to change gabe’s diaper and there was no changing table so I asked if there was a comment form where I could suggest they get one, what with all the moms and kids whose money you are happily taking. Anyway, the barista looks at me and says, “oh, we’re not really looking to encourage that clientele.”. WTF? at Starbucks?

  35. Elise says:

    I love everything about this post, including the comment war. As someone without children, but also as someone who turns to a puddle of adoring goo near anyone under age five, I appreciate you parenting style. I love children. I even love other people’s children. I love them so much, I’m not willing to let/watch them grow up to be assholes. Also, I do not love the sound of screaming, no matter what age or situation. So, thanks for all of this!

  36. Unrelated. says:

    […] was an excellent post at Temerity Jane about ill-behaved children and public places, and I felt like expanding upon it to say that, as a […]

  37. Dolores says:

    I’ve only skimmed the comments, but you keep saying “oh, well, that’s a special circumstance”. How do you know the circumstance of every child throwing a fit in the grocery store in order to judge them and find them lacking compared to your own impeccable skill?

    Believe me, no one plans to have to deal with a tantrumming child in the supermarket, and everyone tries to choose the sweet spot to take them, but having food in the house is non-negotiable, and not everyone has built in child care to go to the supermarket on their own.

  38. Dolores says:

    “TELL ME a circumstance where a screaming, disruptive, rude child in a restaurant shouldn’t be taken home or at least outside until they calm down, even if it means eating in shifts, or alone. Seriously. Name one.”

    When you’re travelling, jet lagged and hungry and there are two kids and one adult.

  39. Rebecca says:

    I am definitely in hermit mode here with kids so small. I don’t like to take them anywhere not kid friendly because, frankly, it is a pain in the ass for ME. There are some situations, though, that cannot be avoided — occasionally groceries must be bought and recently, I took a 4 year old and a 6 month old on an airplane, which was about as fun as it sounds. This is why I love drive-throughs. Incidentally, my husband is judgy about drive-throughs (like, you must be lazy to not get out of your car) and insists on taking the kids in, and I ask WHY??? Why do that to yourself and everyone else?

  40. RD says:

    I’ve never been a big alcohol drinker, I tried a bunch of different drinks as a teenager (drinking age is 18 here) but I don’t like the taste or the expense and I’ve never felt that alcohol needs to be involved for something to be fun. In college I joined in with plenty of drinking games, I just drank soda instead of alcohol, none of my friends minded and I had as much fun as any of them with none of the ill effects the next day. However, I was on medication at the time that didn’t allow me to drink alcohol, my friends all knew so there was no pressure to drink.

    Now I’m no longer on the same medication and I am able to drink but I choose not too. Like you I don’t want to lie about my reason for not drinking but it can turn into such a thing when we’re out with people who don’t know me well and they’re really convinced people can only have fun if they drink alcohol. My fiance does drink (he’s 6’6″ and can handle his liquor) so I’m (quite happily) DD if we’re driving somewhere. Often times that’s enough of an excuse but sometimes even then people will try to convince me to have “just one”. It’s really very annoying!

  41. Widelawns says:

    You forgot one of my favorite responses to not drinking (I’m breastfeeding too but don’t drink even when I’m not).

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked:

    “Are you a Mormon?”

  42. motheroad says:

    DUH! When you have a kid, things CHANGE. If you don’t WANT things to change, WHY HAVE A KID?

  43. […] CHILD, and anyone who has read this blog for a long time knows that I am not normally of that mind. We are staunchly in the Leaver category. I wish I had a bag of credits I could dip into. I wish I could understand what the people who sent […]