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Parents gone wild: Potty training kids at restaurant table

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POSTED September 8, 2012 1:09 a.m.

Potty training your twins in the middle of a packed restaurant?

We’ve certainly come a long ways since the 1950s and I’m not too sure all of it is good.

The potty training while patrons were dining in a Utah deli was caught on a cell phone and went viral as well as getting plenty of play on TV stations.

Had that happened in the 1950s I seriously doubt there would have been much tar and feathers left within 100 miles. Parents have tough jobs. Always have and always will. But that said they don’t have carte blanche to force the rest of the world to be captive audiences to their display of parenting skills or lack thereof.

Parents once upon a time didn’t take kids to sit-down restaurants until they had basic public rules of engagement mastered.

Dad drove home the point on the rare occasions we dined out. We had to get dressed up complete with a dress jacket and tie. We didn’t act like wild monkeys in the station wagon going or returning. The second we started doing something out of line, Dad raised his voice or though you “the look.”

Dad never hit us. He didn’t have to. We were taught how to act in public. And if we did act up, we were quickly removed from the restaurant by our parents. We either went back inside when we were able to control ourselves or we ended up cutting the meal short. If that happened, there were consequences. We essentially forfeited various privileges that could range from no dessert for a week or not being able to play with any toys for several days to being left with a babysitter the next time the family went out to dine.

Today some parents believe such discipline would bring Child Protection Services down on them.

You could make a show dubbed Kids Gone Wild with how some act in restaurants with their parents’ complicity. Among all of the incidents the one that still stands out the most was in the now shuttered Tony Roma’s restaurant in Modesto.

A party of 14 - eight adults and six young children - were seated next to us with the kids at their separate tables. Not only were they loud but they were allowed to run around tables and even climb on them. They were even taking the lids off of salt shakers and pouring the content on the tables, seats and floor.

The waitress was at her wits’ end.

At one point I politely asked one of the adults if they could do something about the kids. Her response was to tell me to mind my own business. We couldn’t do that, of course, because of the war cries, jumping, loud laughter and the occasional kid brushing up against our table.

I wondered out loud whether the kids were allowed to do that at home when the waitress - who was getting more than frazzled since the kids were now having a low key food fight - stopped by our table.

One of the adults at the table who heard me responded that they didn’t believe in beating their kids.

I don’t understand teaching a kid to behave at the dinner table and in public requires beating them up. What it requires is patience and consistency from a parent.

And - if then kid can behave in public or they aren’t potty trained yet - parents should refrain from taking them to restaurants unless they are willing to remove them when the need arises.

That means taking a kid that has to “go” to the restroom where they can use the training potty that you lugged into the restaurant. You don’t strip them down nude and put them on the potty at the table while people are eating around them in a public restaurant.

If the kid is out of control, you take them outside the restaurant and don’t return until they calm down. And if for some reason their behavior isn’t as one should expect while in public - especially with other people around - you might just want to match their public excursions with the setting. People expect kids to be loud and half wild in McDonald’s especially if they have a Playland. They don’t expect it - nor should they tolerate it - in a sit-down restaurant.





This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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