Trying to Eat in Peace

I think it’s one of the mysteries of parenting that, as our kids grow up, we forget all the headaches associated with rearing young children.

One of those headaches slapped me full force Saturday.

I’d spent a pretty uncomfortable hour or so in Mass — thanks, in part, to whiny, fidgety, coughing children around me. With my nerves already frayed, I felt the need to relax over a nice dinner out.

Mom and I went to a local Mexican restaurant, were seated, and awaiting our order when I noticed escalating noises from the booth behind us.

I peered around and immediately located the source of the noise.

A young mom and dad, accompanied by grandma, were trying to entertain two little children, both obviously under the age of four or five.

And they weren’t succeeding.

The boy (the older one) was chattering loudly about anything and everything, in an effort (I suppose) to keep the adults’ attention focused on him, not his sister.

The girl (a toddler in a high chair) was squealing in protest, banging on the table, and trying to get more attention for herself.

I thought they’d ease up when their food arrived.

But I thought wrong.

The noise only escalated.

Perhaps the kids didn’t really want tacos and such. Perhaps they’d have preferred McDonald’s.

Maybe the parents hadn’t really wanted to take them out. Maybe they couldn’t find a sitter.

But it seems to me that the adults out-numbered the kids, and somebody should have done a better job disciplining. Maintaining order. And quiet.

Not drill sergeant order. But consideration of other diners.

I realize that’s a tall order nowadays, but it saddens me to think these children one day will be in school, where they will be expected to behave.

And if home is a free-for-all, what will school be like?