Every parent is stupid and delusional. Most of the time it’s a lesson learned, and we move on. Like when dads expect a super athlete in the family, but junior or juniorette runs around centerfield in circles as a pop fly lands beside them, or when mom’s dreams of a dance prodigy shatter as the kid’s dreams of flailing like a goat being electrocuted while making fart sounds comes true. All parents have to lower their expectations in some way because our kids are imperfect human beings like us. That doesn’t stop us from making the stupid mistake of expecting amazing things like a nice, quiet dinner at a restaurant.

Seriously. Trojan condoms should pick up the tab for every family with toddlers at a restaurant, especially in college towns like the one I live in. My kids have probably cock or vajayjay blocked more couples than any jealous third wheel lost in the friend zone. Nothing puts an end to all thoughts about doing the squishy dance as the dead-eyed stares of parents wishing their screaming kids would stop jumping up and down in the booth.

One bit of soul searching every parent has to ask is precisely how deep does this jealous rage against people who can have a nice evening out without kids go? Let’s face it. When we bring our two, five, or whatever year olds into a restaurant, we are bringing shouting, running around, spilled drinks, and a promise of a huge mess with us. Hell, even when everything is going well, and the kids aren’t little monsters, we parents are on edge like we got lost in the woods, and we know that at any second, a bear is going to jump out of the bushes and eat us. The peace never lasts. Either the kids will start fighting, or there will be a total meltdown because they got french-fries with potato on it.

I read a news story every so often about some restaurant that bans kids under six or something along those lines. As a parent who does her best to control her kids and make them behave, while not turning them into obedient little drones, I can’t help but think that these sorts of places EFFING GET IT!!!. Holy crap, if one of these restaurants was in my town, and my husband and I had time for a date night, that is where we would go.

Let’s be honest here. Kids don’t care about nice restaurants or even generic diners that serve real food cooked to order. There is no need to waste time and money buying them a good meal. By good meal, I mean something like a meat-n-three from an old-fashioned country restaurant or a dinner platter from a steakhouse. All the kids want is a fast food burger, fries, and a soda. Many of these places even have playgrounds with rubber floors, so when they fall off the thing, parents barely have to look away from their phones.

There is only so much fast food you can take though. Even the better places start to fill your stomach with dread. I can remember when I was young and thought that there were big differences between the various chains. Now it all tastes alike, or like garbage. Nothing like eating soggy fries that died under a heat lamp with a burger half the size of a CD and a watered down Dr. Pepper. But the kids love it, which proves that the little rug rats get their energy from drinking the tears of their parents. The end result is that parents will do anything to avoid the king, the redhead, and the clown.

So, now you as a parent should ask yourselves one of the hardest questions anyone who has spawned can ask. How willing are you to ruin other people’s evenings so that you won’t suffer through another fast food grease bomb? The truth is that you are already asking the hostess for a high chair and booster seat as your kids fight over who sits beside which parent, before it even enters your mind. The question might bear slight consideration as the rest of the restaurant’s patrons stare politely in their meals, offering up silent prayers to the gods of fine dining that it isn’t them that you and your hellions sit by. And these uncaring gods only response will be, “Sucks to be you, buddy.”

Only the most self-centered and oblivious of parents will let their kids have free reign in a restaurant. They are the ones that are usually talking too loud about whatever weird growth old Aunt Sally had removed during hemorrhoid surgery last week. The rest of us try. We really, really do, but there is only so much try in any of us. And it pales in comparison to the parental tear fueled energy of a toddler. We’ve also learned that there is only so much control you can exert over a kid before you control the kid right out of them. Who wants that? So, we will put on a nice show, and tell our kids to knock it off. We may mean it, or we may pretend like we care so that it looks like we are responsible parents trying to make the brats behave, even though we know that isn’t going to happen. We care, but there comes the point where sanity and empty bellies come first.

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