On Wednesday night, my amazing husband took me to Sapporo, a great hibachi and sushi restaurant, for our 4 year anniversary. We arrived soon after they opened for dinner since we went straight there after leaving work, my husband’s logic being that since we were early, we’d get a table to ourselves. When we arrived, there was a family of five already seated at one of the large tables surrounding the hibachi grill, so we were seated with them. A boy and a girl, around 4 and 5 years old respectively, sat at the end of the table. Their father sat next to them with a two-year-old boy in between he and his wife on the other side. Upon ordering our meals and receiving our soups, the wife commented that the children have experience eating out, attempting to appease us and possibly reassure us that the initial rowdy behavior we were witnessing would not continue.
The two-year-old boy was a total mess, eating handfuls of rice, drooling all over himself, yelling and banging his fork on the table and mirror, and running around uncontrollably. The four-year-old boy was whiny and loud, fighting with his sister, spilling his drink, and eventually banging his head hard on the table due to his antics. The girl was the best behaved out of the bunch, and she was whining herself about wanting to get her Kindle Fire back so she could play Angry Birds instead of eat. All three children were loud, messy, unable to keep their hands to themselves, were throwing things, and acted horribly. Upon leaving, the father apologized to us for the “circus.” Also, the family was at the restaurant for the girl’s birthday.
My son has been to Sapporo for a birthday. MY birthday. Using his fork and not his hands, he enjoyed his fried rice, his chicken and shrimp, and both loved and feared the chef cooking up the food in front of us. He chewed with his mouth closed, with some reminding, didn’t shout or run around, and behaved like a proper human being. The parents we sat with on Wednesday allowed their children to eat like farm animals and behave like monkeys. They didn’t ruin our evening in the slightest, as I was excited for sushi and delicious scallops, but I don’t agree with their choice of venue for their little girl’s birthday dinner.
The fact that mom said something to us in the beginning and dad said something while departing makes me think that their behavior that evening was common and they fully expected their kids to be loud, disruptive and messy. Perhaps I’m too picky or perhaps I’m a snob, but I don’t feel that this restaurant was appropriate for a child’s birthday or for this family at all. It was obvious that the parents enjoy the type of food and probably frequent Sapporo a lot, but if you can’t keep your children in line, you need to make some sacrifices. Being a parent means you don’t get to do the same things as your childless counterparts. If having your favorite meal means you are disturbing others in the process due to your shortcomings as a parent, you don’t get your favorite meal until you get a babysitter or until you get your kids in order. At least, that is how it should be.
It’s quite possible the little girl requested this particular restaurant for her birthday, as she loves seeing the chef prepare her meal right in front of her, she enjoys eating the octopus her mother ordered, and she prefers fruit over cake after her meal. It’s also possible this little girl would have had a blast at Chuck E Cheese, enjoying pizza, salads and games. Her behavior, while not acceptable anywhere, would be more at home in a place like Chuck E Cheese, where no one goes for a romantic or quiet meal and where everyone expects to see kids running around like lunatics. I’m not saying that kids should be denied the experience and the food available in certain restaurants, just that they shouldn’t be there if their parents can’t control them.
Bottom line, parents, you need to learn to discipline your children, teach them proper manners and behavior, and understand that the squealing your kid does when they don’t want to eat their veggies may be cute to you, but it’s torture for the rest of us. If you cannot accomplish this, stick to fine dining establishments such as McDonald’s, order take-out or delivery, or cook at home. Being able to do something doesn’t make it right; just because you’re not getting thrown out of establishments doesn’t mean you and your family are making life pleasant for your fellow patrons and the staff. Respect others, respect yourself, and control the chaos.