DEAR ABBY: What is the official Dear Abby position on screaming children in restaurants? My husband took my mother and me to a family restaurant to celebrate our birthdays, and two children from different families were screaming their lungs out. One of them, a child about 3, alternately screamed, begged, whined and threw tantrums the whole time. The other child was much younger, but seemed to be keying off the other child.
Abby, it was horrible! Our server could hardly hear us to take our order -- and I'm not exaggerating. We could not enjoy our dinner because of the piercing shrieks coming from both sides of the restaurant. Had I done that when I was little, my mother would have taken me outside, if only to make the atmosphere more pleasant for the other diners. The family with the older child ignored his behavior. This seems to happen more and more often, I've noticed.
The family finally left, but both my husband and I had splitting headaches from the noise. What, if anything, could we have done? The other diners were as uncomfortable as we were. -- WISH I'D HAD EARPLUGS, DECATUR, ALA.
DEAR WISH: Your party should have canceled your orders and celebrated the occasion at another restaurant once you realized the parents had no intention of intervening.
Something similar happened to my husband and me one night recently. The manager of the restaurant tolerated the disruption for approximately 10 minutes, then he approached their table and informed the parents they must stop the ruckus or take their large party and leave. When the door swung shut behind them, the entire restaurant broke into applause.
Unless parents have completely abdicated their authority, Mommy or Daddy should know that when their child's behavior becomes disruptive, it's time for a "time-out." That those parents inflicted their child's bad behavior on a restaurant full of people shows more about them than their kid.