Even though Henry is close to six months old, we've never taken him to a restaurant. There are a few reasons for that-diapers eat into our "going out" money a bit, plus Ben really enjoys to cook, so we didn't go out that much in the first place. But we also were afraid of being "that" couple-you know, the one with the screaming baby that is ruining the entire place's meal and they seem oblivious. We've both waited tables and seen this to different degrees, from the parent that immediately gets up and takes the kid outside, to the parents who let their kids trash the place because "we have a right to go out, too."
I actually had polar opposites one night at a diner that I worked at for years. One table was three young, upper middle class moms with multiple kids and designer everything, and one was a....well, you'd probably say redneck lady with her mother, and her three young kids. While the three moms chatted over wine and let their kids run freely around, getting in the waitstaff's way and dumping stuff on the floor, the three other kids sat quietly as their mom and grandmother smoked and chatted. At one point the youngest kid from the quiet table leaned out to get a better look at what was causing that ruckus. Mom took a drag off her cigarette, pointed at him and said "Don't. Even. Think about it." He sat back down and finished his meal while the other kids threw food and the three moms got hate daggers from everyone in the room. Not that they cared, because as far as they were concerned their kids had a right to do whatever they wanted.
Ok, first of all, going out to dinner is not a right to anyone. And even if it is, you don't have the right to wreck other people's nights. It's also extremely dangerous to let small kids run around people carrying hot food on heavy plates. I know people may not agree with me, but all three of my siblings and I had this ingrained in us from a very early age-we're going out to dinner, it is a treat, and the minute you act up, your ass is headed outside. There were no second chances, and my parents were perfectly willing to carry out any threat they put out there, even if it meant their dinner was wrecked, too. This wasn't a problem when it was just my sister and me, because we loved getting dressed up and going out and people giving us compliments on our behavior. Then Cody showed up, and my dad spent every meal out til he was about five sitting on the curb outside with a screaming kid. I don't know what it was about public eateries, but man, that kid would just flip out. And since we didn't know how Henry would react to being stuck in one place, and having new people around, we just didn't go out. There's also a hangup now with size-he doesn't fit in his carrying car seat (and won't stay in it anyway, if he knows there's action going on around him) but he can't hold himself up enough to be in a high chair. So we either have to hold him or stash him under a seat like a purse (this is a joke. Don't call CPS).
But we realized at some point we'd be out and need to grab something to eat, so we stopped for Mexican today. Henry seemed to dig it, he was looking around and smiling at people. Still don't think we're up to taking him out to dinner. Partly because I don't know how much we'd enjoy it, because we'd be anticipating a yell or a massive crap or a surprise projectile vomit (he really likes pulling that one in the grocery store checkout line, generally as some old lady is cooing over how cute he is). But we at least know that if we need to stop and grab a bite, we can. And if it's a bad day....well, I guess we'll be sitting on the curb. Wave if you see us.