I like cooking, but I am also lazy. Consequently, we eat out far too often.

And, due to their overexposure to this practice, my kids are fairly well-behaved in restaurants.


Chris and I, being the overly sensitive people-pleasing type that we are, still have a long list of rigidly adhered-to rules about when and where we won’t dine with our children.

For instance, Friday and Saturday nights. We respect that these are date nights for many couples, so we either go early, or go somewhere that is clearly not a date destination.

Because we remember what it was like to be childless and romantic. And we remember how it feels to have our love-filled gaze broken by the inner-ear-vibrating shriek of a spaghetti-covered child in the booth next to ours.

(Or by the gag-choke-puke of the toddler at the next table over.)

Typically, I don’t have to worry about Our List when going to lunch with my friends, because we don’t usually dine in places where children would not be welcomed with open arms and sticky high chairs.

Until last week.

I was supposed to lunch with two of my friends, Jamie and Katherine. Katherine had a gift she wanted to give Ali (spoiler: it was a fabulous wooden cupcake set), so bringing the children was essential.

We discussed our options for dining via text. Katherine wanted a place with fantastic desserts. I threw a few recommendations out. She didn’t bite. Instead, she replied back, “What about [insert ridiculously posh restaurant here]? They have great desserts, don’t they?”

I froze, petrified and hopeful that Jamie would reply with “No, no. Their desserts are cardboard frozen over. And besides, I don’t have a Prada handbag.”

But she didn’t.

She texted something along the lines of how perfect and delightful that would be.

I balked.

Olexa Adventure

Despite my previous disgraces in the presence of Ladies Who Lunch, I trusted Jamie’s opinion, and took extra care to dress Ali and Noah in stain-free clothes. And even brush their hair.

I left the house, forgetting to first check and see where I was going. I looked up the address on my phone.

And groaned.

It was on the very same prestigious street that contained the illustrious salon at which I crushed my hand in an altogether humiliating fashion.

Petticoat Lane and I are not meant to be together.

I arrived a few minutes early, and knowing that I didn’t want to use up any Agreeable Child Credit while waiting on my friends, I sat in the car and observed.

I watched as a brand new Porsche drove up and took the front parking spot.

I watched as Ladies Who Lunch sauntered into the restaurant with their Cashmere Sweaters, Scarves knit from Yak Fur by Tibetan Princesses, and As Seen On Angelina Jolie Sunglasses.

And there were no children in any entourage.

I began sweating.

I told Ali we were going to a Palace, so she would need to act like a Princess.

I picked all of the visible boogers out of Noah’s nose. And off of his sleeve. And out of his eyebrows.

I saw Jamie drive up, so I began unloading my children.

But by the time we journeyed to the door, she was nowhere in sight.

I took a deep breath and walked into the restaurant.

And everyone else in the restaurant also took a deep breath.

No, really. Every single person in the restaurant gasped and looked at me, The One who would dare walk into their Holy of Holies with one Undesirable standing by her side and one Undesirable in her arms.

My hope that other patrons would assume that my children were actually just tiny adults was clearly in vain.

The restaurant itself was just as beautiful as Jamie had described. It was as if we had been transported to a village in the French countryside.

Lunch 1

A village where all of the children had been sent away to boarding school.

Lunch 2

I sat down, and my friends shortly arrived. I attempted to read through the flowery descriptions of the dozens of salad options, but I was far too on edge for reading.

And Noah could smell my fear.

Five minutes in and he was already in grouch-mode.

I handed him Hot Wheels out of my purse.

He took note of the glass-top table and began banging them with an attentive amount of ferocity.

I took them away.

He whined.

People stared.

I gave him lemonade. He sipped some, then whipped the straw out of his cup, spraying Katherine with a zesty citrus shower.

She shrieked a tiny shriek.

People stared.

He asked for a fork, loudly.

(With his precisely profane enunciation of the word “fork” in all it’s glory.)

People stared.

I unrolled a set of silverware and gave it to him, just to get him to quit saying that word over and over, louder and louder.

He began banging it on the glass.

People stared.

I took away his fork. He retorted.

People stared.

I gave him my phone, with his favorite app pulled up – it always works.

Unless the aroma of fear is present, apparently.

For the first time ever, he flung my phone onto the floor, where it crashed and slid to the next table.

People stared. And whispered.

I retrieved my phone from beneath The Princess of Monaco’s feet.

Another kid came into the restaurant. I sighed with relief and desperately hoped that Other Kid would pitch an unholy fit, drowning out any and all of my own son’s utterances. But it was clear that the other kid had been properly drugged and gagged.

I tried to look at the menu for a moment and desperately searched for the kid’s menu to find what I could order to shut him up.

Two items:

Peanut Butter and Jelly, and Grilled Cheese.

$6.50 each.

And he hates both.

He had eaten a gigantic breakfast, so I ordered him a schmancy Cranberry muffin, and gave him Ali’s sandwich’s fruit and chips accompaniment.

My two-year-old was served his muffin on a scalloped glass plate.

Lunch 5

With a doily.

Lunch 3

(Which I quickly removed before he used it to sling his food onto the lapel of a visiting dignitary.)

But the food worked. He shoved his face in a most impolite fashion for at least ninety seconds. Even the one other toddler in the restaurant turned around in his seat to gawk at Noah’s unpretentious eating style.

Lunch 4

After his food was gone way too quickly, I ordered one of those fanciful desserts, thinking for sure that it would buy me a few more minutes.

But he refused it angrily.


And that was the last day of my sanity.

41 thoughts on “Toddlers Who Lunch.

  1. Oh dear. lol I took one of my boys to my favorite tea room with me at about 7-8 months of age.I can sympthize. Oh well, lesson learned! ;)

  2. “I like cooking, but I am also lazy.” — that’s so me! I’m glad I’m not the only one. Besides, I blame my tiny kitchen ;-)

    Also, that restaurant does have yummy quiche but the “side salad” is literally greens & dressing. I mean, I’m paying $10.50 here! Can I at least get those little carrot shreds??? For the love.

  3. It is true. They can smell fear. I can remember taking my 2 yr old and infant to a family birthday dinner at a Chinese restaurant. The venue was fine but the fact that the 30 family members were so busy visiting that we didn’t even get our order in until 45 min after we arrived means we were way beyond the allocated good-behavior time before food arrived. Pretty sure my 2 yr old literally climbed the wall. It was a half wall but still.

    1. Oh those are the WORST!! Don’t they know that our children are ticking timebombs waiting to go off and ruin their food?? ORDER, PEOPLE!! And go ahead and order your appetizer, meal, AND dessert at once while you’re at it.

  4. “And, due to their overexposure to this practice, my kids are fairly well-behaved in restaurants.”

    I hate to cook and I’m lazy so we also eat out a lot, but I cannot say that phrase applies to my kids. They are 5, 3, and 4 months now and the only one who even pretends to behave is the baby. The 3yr old has an incredibly high pitched note he can hit at a moment’s notice and he uses it regularly. I get disdainful looks at Mcdonalds:( I swear it is not for lack of effort on my part!
    Also, from your pictures, that restaurant does not look posh to me. Except for the plates, it just looks tacky.

    1. Noah may give me a run for my money on the behaving bit.

      And it’s prettier in person – my photos were taken as I was running out of the restaurant with a two-year-old under my other arm.

  5. This was hilarious. Sorry to laugh, but any mom can relate. And I love this Fancy Restaurant, and know that I would lose my appetite for their most awesome Chicken Crepes if I had to take kids!

  6. My kids are 24 and 17, now. But I remember those days. Utter panic!! My husband being a pastor and I the pastor’s wife, we often had to host guests after Sunday morning secice. What an emotional balancing act, because I, too, felt the need to please. I always wished I’d worn extra deodorant by the time we left the restaurant.

  7. Oh, this post made me laugh! We don’t have many fancy restaurants where we live, but the Sheraton hotel does have a few fancy places inside. We took our daughter with us to “High Tea” at the Sheraton once to celebrate my Mother-In-Law’s Birthday. Our experience there sounded VERY similar to your story !! :-) Gotta love those fancy restaurants.

  8. oh. my. gosh! that sounds like quite a day. Love your writing, btw (new follower)!
    gotta love kids, right? and yes…the smell of fear. ugh. i wish i could have some sort of super power that didn’t allow the fear to be scented LOL mine are 3 and 1.5 and goodness…they were SO much easier in the baby carrier and SLEEPING through everything. now the 1.5 yr old has to try and 1 up his brother and tell me “NO!!!” with a grump face. ah, motherhood…. i need a glass of wine after reading this!

    1. Yes. It is the ultimate snubbing. Especially when you spent $9 on a dessert just to attempt to make them sit still and quiet for another ten minutes.

  9. I laughed till I had tears in my eyes. Mostly because I can totally relate. It it’s not even the fancy re

  10. As I was saying before my comment arbitrarily posted. We’ve experienced similar horrors and its not even a fancy restaurant, it’s at the local Red Robin or a Mexican food place. And it always seems that no matter how hard you try to make sure it’s not near nap time or that they are hungry when you go, there is always a meltdown(from my kid and from myself).

    1. YES – I have an unpublished draft somewhere about a similar experience at Red Robin. I should go find that – no idea why I never published it…

  11. About the only time I cook is November and December so the rest of the year my son and I either ate out or I picked something up on the way home from the gym. My son is 20 now and doesn’t really understand home cooked meals at all. We do know our favorite things to order at every fast food restaurant down hwy 280 and have our fav mexican restaurant menu memorized.

  12. I like to cook and am lazy so we eat leftovers a lot. Can’t afford to eat out. :-) Kudos to you that can.

  13. My mother in law really REALLY wants to take me and my SIL and our kids to a local tea house for their multi-course afternoon tea. We are going tomorrow. I have a high-energy 5 year old boy and a prima-donna 3 year old girl and my SIL has a 3 year old who can break windows with her shriek, which she uses frequently. I checked the menu for this tea house and this is what it says, copied and pasted word for word from their website:

    “Please understand the tea house is unsuitable for younger children, including toddlers and preschoolers: we offer no high chairs, changing tables or children’s menu, and don’t have room for large strollers inside the tea house.
    Although the tea house is intended to be an adult retreat, we welcome children who practice appropriate restaurant etiquette. Appropriate restaurant etiquette includes children using inside voices and staying seated.
    We prefer that children be seated at tables and chairs, and not on the upholstered furniture of the parlor or east room. There is a $25 charge for broken china and a $20 for upholstery cleaning.”

    I’m screwed.

    1. Okay. So I’m thinking your mother-in-law hates you AND your sister-in-law. Or she’s sado-masochistic. Or she thinks your kids really ARE tiny adults.

      At any rate, yes – you are screwed.

      (And let me know how it goes.)

      1. It actually went shockingly well. Other than the shock and disdain in the eyes of the host as we walked in the door, MY kids did ok. My niece, however, decided to regale us all with her favorite Christmas songs at the top of her voice through most of the meal. It was hilarious, mainly because it wasn’t my own kid. Had it been, I would have been mortified, but my sister in law did not seem phased, so more power to her! And the other patrons did not shoot us any evil glares, so I think God blessed us with some unusually kid-tolerant fellow diners. Otherwise they might have kicked us out!

  14. Ha!! I knew where you were going for lunch before I got to the pictures… But the warm buttercream cake is possibly worth the ridicule and distaste you endured!

    Also, I propose a hostile takeover. Lets go back there… And add Loulie to the madness!!

    1. Oh now wouldn’t THAT be fun. And let’s go ahead and invite everyone else we know with a two-year-old too…I’d enjoy the looks on the faces as we strolled up.

  15. I remember times like this…mine kids are 18 & 15 now…but there were those times when you really felt that the child who couldn’t ‘get’ the simple basics of the potty chair, suddenly found the intelligence to torture and torment in various, and sometimes subtle, ways. Like they channeled a slick, worldly spy-type for that span of time.

    But, if it makes you feel any better…I have two of those plates…used to have 6 dessert size, 6 dinner plates and 6 bowls like that…they were a dollar each at walmart…seriously. I used one to defrost my chicken breasts on earlier. :)

  16. Aww….that brings back memories. ; ) I remember getting those horrified looks when I would board a plane with my son when he was younger. I try to go out of my way now to smile at and say hello to mothers with young kids on airplanes or in restaraunts, just because I remember…. I know it’s stressful.

  17. that sounds slightly nightmarish. i’ve never taken my kids anywhere all that nice but even in fast food restaurants i worry. we went to one the day of our ultrasound and i declared that once #4 arrives (another BOY we found out – that puts us up to THREE!!!!), that we’ll probably never ever be able to eat out again. ever.

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