Let me just get this out of the way. I am not a fan of (mostly misbehaved) kids in adult restaurants.
I understand that a lot of parents think their child is the exception - and I am absolutely sure that some are - but there are parents who are just completely wrong about that. Their child is a nightmare for other patrons to have in a restaurant where there is no kiddie meal. Thing is - I don't blame the kid, I blame the parents who don't pay attention.
You know where bad parenting is really annoying? Nail salons. You're 'stuck' (with wet nails, no less) in one place for a certain amount of time. Lemme tell you what happened to me...get comfy.
It was this past Friday evening, and I decided to pamper myself after work. I don't go to a day spa, or "upscale" place, 1) because they charge way too much, in my opinion, and 2) in my experience, they seem hesitant - almost afraid - to touch people's feet. But, I do go to the nail salon I choose to go to for relaxation, and to get my nails prettied.
There was practically no one there when I walked in a little after 5, and I was seated immediately in a pedicure chair. I had juuuuust put my cold feet into the piping hot, purple-and-bubbling water, when a little girl and her mother walked in - and the entire placed exploded into "Hiiiiiiii's" and "What color do you want your nails?! Do you remember my name?" Clearly this little 3-year-old was a celebrity here, but the orange popsicle or Cheeto stain around her mouth didn't woo me.
"What's your name", she asked me, as she peered into the purple water, pointing at my feet.
"Amanda", I told her, as sweetly as I possibly could, since I was cautious about how relaxing my time here would be after her grandiose arrival. "What's yours?"
"Harriet." Poor kid. I mean, why? Somehow, the orange mouth stain made a little more sense, though.
Harriet ran back to her mom a couple times, babbling loudly, and then she ran back to me, asking me all sorts of "why's" - "Why is he doing that to your feet? Why are you getting your nails done? Why did you pick that color? Why can't I put my hand in the water? Why can't I paint your nails?"
I found Harriet adorable at first, and her voice was so angelic. But, after a while, her questions were bountiful and I was running out of answers. And energy. I periodically looked over at her real mom, and I wondered if/when she would notice that her daughter should really be bothering her and not me - but mom was too busy getting her nails done to notice. I mean, I thought ignoring your kid at a nail salon only happened on Teen Mom.
Harriet kicked off her boots and socks in the middle of the salon floor, and ran around barefoot for a while. Her once-angelic voice became deeper and raspy. She ran from person to person, searching loudly for answers to life's great mysteries, like "Why do you get your toes painted in winter?" and "Where are your babies?"
As soon as I was seated at the manicure station, then the 'What's he doing and why is he doing that' continued. I ignored a couple of her questions, but this made her mad, and she'd say, "Amaaaaaanda", and I would answer her begrudgingly. I suggested she go pick out a nail color, pick up her boots after seeing an employee trip on them, and maybe see what her mom is up to - all the while fuming that these are things her OWN MOTHER should be doing, because I am here to PAY for my own nail services, but really should be charging this mom for my BABYSITTING services.
I reached my breaking point when Harriet ran over to my nail tech as he had just begun painting my nails, and knocked into him, causing him to mess up my nail. My blood boiled, as I looked over to see the mom laughing and gossiping about some shit on the salon TV I couldn't watch because I was too busy dealing with her child.
"Harriet!" I half-yelled, loud enough so the mom turned around. "You can't be over here when he's painting my nails, OK? That's enough, now", I said - as I looked over at the mom to stare her down. We locked eyes, and I shook my head, before turning back to my hands.
"Harriet, come over here, please", mom said rather meanly. But that's not my problem.
I understand that being a parent is tough work, and that indulging in things like getting your nails done is hard when you have a toddler with you. And, for a good while, I thought Harriet was cute, and didn't mind entertaining her. But, it reached a point that I didn't appreciate. And, it seems whenever people don't appreciate kids in public places, they're labeled as intolerant, malevolent kid-haters.
On the short drive home, I wondered how I could have handled the Harriet situation differently.
Should I have asked mom to take control of her child? Should I have asked my nail tech to remedy the situation? Should I have just ignored Harriet?
The conclusion I came to, was that even though I would be more attentive than Nail Salon Mom, I just hope to come across someone as patient as me when I have my own little Harriet.