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OMG! The Kid Flipped a Table in a Restaurant

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Yes, it actually happened -- and when it did, I had no idea what to do!!

My Kid Flipped a Table in a Restaurant

Jennifer Ginsberg: We've all been there. You're at a restaurant with your little munchkin and she innocently leans on the table -- perhaps a bit too zealously. It tilts ... and all the plates, glasses, and silverware start sliding down. Just as the image of your entire meal crashing to the floor flashes before your eyes, your semi-decent parenting reflexes kick in and you catch it, and breathe a big sigh of relief that Ella's mac 'n' cheese didn't go flying across the restaurant!

But have you ever thought about what you would do if the table actually flipped? I wish I had given this issue some serious thought, so I would not have been struck completely dumb when it happened to me!

Why is it that none of the books or child experts ever explain how to deal with our most perplexing parenting moments? Someone should write a book called "What To Do When Your Kid Flips a Table in a Restaurant." Other chapter titles would include, "What To Do When Your Kid Barfs On You in the Passport Line at the Airport," and, my favorite, "What To Do When Your Kid Pisses on his Brand-New Ugg Boots." Now, that is a book I would definitely buy! So much more useful than all the repetitive, useless drivel out there!

Last Saturday, my friend Michael and I took our 5-year-old sons to lunch at a family-friendly restaurant we frequent regularly.

"Bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a mini cheese pizza, and a raspberry Italian soda!" my son, Shane, proudly ordered when our regular waiter came by. Shane loves to mix up the vinegar and oil and dip his bread into it, a trick he learned from Yours Truly, a.k.a. The Queen of Dipping. Find me an edible surface, and I'll surely find something to dip it in!

We ate our meal and the boys behaved wonderfully. By the time they finished their hot fudge sundaes with mini M&Ms, our table was piled with plates, glasses, silverware, and, of course, Shane's beloved olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We paid the bill, and I asked Michael to watch the boys while I ran to the restroom. Michael said, "OK guys, let's go to the dinosaur fountain outside!" Michael's son, Cameron, excitedly bounced up and used the table for leverage.

Then it happened ... both in slow motion and so rapidly that nothing could be done to prevent it. The table flipped, and everything went flying. Raspberry Italian soda sprayed across the table. Mini M&Ms and goopy hot fudge dribbled onto the ground. A chunk of gnawed-on pizza crust landed on top of some man's salad sitting at the table next to us.

Then I saw it ... that bottle of balsamic vinegar. Shattered in dangerous shards near the man's feet. For some unbeknown reason, he picked up the largest shard, which still had balsamic vinegar sloshing out of it, and madly raised it in the air. Droplets splattered down his arms and onto his jeans.

It looked like a murder weapon ... or the imaginary bloody knife that Macbeth sees floating in the air in Act II. But this wasn't Shakespeare -- it was the real deal. And not only was the man crazily wielding the Balsamic Vinegar Weapon, but he looked f*cking pissed off enough to use it!

My first instinct was to scream, "It wasn't my child!!!" but I figured that probably wasn't too cool. Clearly, the perpetrator of the crime couldn't be held accountable, given that he was only five and sobbing hysterically over the shock of the accident. His father was also unable to apologize to Balsamic Vinegar Dude, because he was busy comforting said child.

So I sat there completely dumbfounded, trying to avert the visual daggers that were being shot in my direction. Instead, I focused on Balsamic Vinegar Dude's jeans, an acid-washed pair of too-tight True Religions, which were now completely splattered with deep purple stains. I tried to abdicate my guilt by telling myself that any man who dons acid-washed True Religion jeans deserves whatever is coming to him.

"Let's go," I said, and quickly grabbed my purse and stood up.

"But don't you need to go to the bathroom?" Michael asked, a typically oblivious male question. Stepping over the carnage and using the bathroom in this restaurant would be like accidentally driving your car through someone's house, then asking the owner for a cup of coffee.

"I think I can hold it!" I said as I grabbed Shane's hand and bolted out the door.

Clearly, high-tailing it out of there was not the right thing to do. I should have acknowledged the incident and, at the very least, apologized to the man. But a mere apology didn't seem like enough, given the gravity of the situation. I suppose I could have offered to buy him a new pair of True Religion jeans, but I could not aid and abet such a hideous fashion crime!

I guess I won't be eating at that restaurant anymore!

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24 comments so far | Post a comment now
Kristen December 2, 2009, 7:02 AM

Are you kidding me? I get that accidents happen but YOU LEFT without offering an apology or help in cleaning up the mess. Wow, no wonder our children have the attitude of it’s not my problem or it’s not my fault. Pretty crappy what you did and it’s a horrible example of how to act or to teach your child responsibility.

Barb December 2, 2009, 7:21 AM

I’m kind of appalled that you left. Yes, accidents happen, but taking ownership of our mistakes is not only a good example for our children, but the right thing to do in that situation. If the wait staff swooped in and told you they’d get the mess, at least apologize profusely to them and the stained diners. An honest apology can go a long way.

Sara December 2, 2009, 7:49 AM

I hope you at least left a very large tip for all the hassle you caused.

tennmom December 2, 2009, 7:53 AM

Accidents happen. I once knocked over a full glass of iced tea, totally dousing my friend.
An extra tip for the staff and a sincere I’m So Sorry to that man would have been appropriate.

Cat December 2, 2009, 8:01 AM

I’m very disappointed at what a bad example you are setting for your son, No apology. No offers to help clean up. Not talking with the manager. Your cowardice is something to be ashamed of and not boasted about at Mom Logic. The guy in the True Religion jeans deserved better, sucky fashion sense or not. It’s sad you have a MSW but no sense of common decency. But you did graduate from USC (the University of Spoiled Children). A UCLA grad has more class.

Sarah B December 2, 2009, 8:02 AM

rude as usual… sure hope your husband teaches your children manners

Heather December 2, 2009, 8:53 AM

Hey Mamas,
OK, maybe the author’s choice wasn’t saintly, but this was hardly a serious hit and run. Pizza crusts and vinegar on acid washed jeans do not = permanent damage, and if I were that man, I think “profuse apologies” would have compounded my embarrassment. It’s kinda like having people sing you ‘Happy Birthday’ in a restaurant. Humiliating. This is a funny and honest piece.

PlumbLucky December 2, 2009, 8:56 AM

Teachable moment lost - I’d like to think I’d have offered to assist in cleaning up and offered a sincere apology to the man who was splashed and has his salad wrecked, and I’d have offered to pay for a new salad for him.
(My “like to think” theory is based on the fact that I DID offer to help cleanup and gave apologies when I did something along these lines at a Wendy’s in my teens, thank you very much, with no parental prompting.)

Erick December 2, 2009, 8:59 AM

I can forgive you bailing from the restaurant, but letting your son wear Ugg boots? Good for him for pissing on them. Now you should raise him so that he doesn’t wind up being a nancy.

john December 2, 2009, 9:15 AM

I have had a similar thing happen with my 4 year old, the difference is. I taught my son that when you make a mess you help clean it. he gladly helped, and when restaurant staff tried to get him to stop he wouldn’t.

instead of ruining the dinners of people around me, it ended with a lot of laughs at the cute little kid who wants to help. and my son learned a valuable lesson in responsibility.

you should strongly consider bringing your son back to that restaurant to apologize. so that he can own up to what he did.

Bob December 2, 2009, 9:27 AM

I love how all these internet clowns are all high mighty and moral. Odd that I rarely see such behavior in real life, but perhaps these people just don’t get out much. They’re armchair moralists, maybe?

However, I do have an issue, it sounds like you were at the olive garden. I’m sorry, but that’s the culinary equivalent of those jeans you were making fun of. If I’m mistaken about the location, I apologize.

Anonymous December 2, 2009, 9:54 AM

john - It wasn’t HER son. Read the article.

author - An apology to the man and to the staff would’ve been warranted. if not by you, then by the father of the kid who made the mess. A very large tip would definitely be warranted too, considering how much extra work was just given to the waitress(es). Getting up and leaving was NOT the right thing to do. As someone pointed out, it’s not a serious hit-and-run or anything, but look at what you just taught your kid, and the other kid. Make a mess, boot it out of there and never have to deal with it! Too many people already teach their kids just that, so maybe you should stop and think and be one of the parents who does teach her son the right thing to do.

ABBI December 2, 2009, 10:02 AM

How utterly and truly classless.
I find it so disgusting how you told yourself “someone who wears True Religion jeans deserves what’s coming to them”…
What was coming to them was your child that THEY did not create.
Unfair, Rude, and extremely, extremely Arrogant.

I also find it disgusting that your husband “couldn’t apologize” to the man, because you were too busy comforting your child, nevermind that he FLIPPED A FREAKIN’ TABLE.
Sorry or not, he needs to understand his actions.

Honestly, I think it’s better off for the restaurants, and all patrons involved if you stay out of there.

Eat at home and then you can focus all your energy on your self-absorbed family without disrupting the rest of the world anymore.

What a woman… UGH!

Swati Bharteey December 2, 2009, 10:35 AM

OMG! Every parent out there is so relieved to hear your story - it can happen to any of us!
I do agree that you should go back with your son, apologize, and see if there is something he can do to make up for it. I am certain he had no idea what was going to happen - but he does need to understand that you have to think about your actions before you do something.

Taylor December 2, 2009, 10:46 AM

Whatever you do in that situation shows your true colors. You don’t need a book to teach you how to react. You’ve shown your true colors in this accident and the aren’t pretty.

Internet Armchair Moralist December 2, 2009, 11:04 AM

I will play yenta for a moment to discuss this situation. Ask yourself, would your mother have bolted and ran or stayed to help clean up the mess with the children? What lesson will your child and his friend to learn? If people have clothes you don’t like, it’s okay to ruin them. The other parent didn’t demonstrate any backbone or class either. The two of you need to grow backbone and develop character or hang out with people who do have backbones and character. Ashunda.

Anonymous December 2, 2009, 12:04 PM

Each time I read one of her articles it makes me dislike her and her out of control, self-entitled spoiled brats just a bit more.

Nice comment about the True Religion jeans-wearer. I do hope that you and your Ugg wearing offspring receive the same treatment. You’re a b*tch

Rob G December 2, 2009, 12:33 PM

I’m glad to hear that you at least recognized that leaving the way you did was not the right thing to do. And not just because of the pair of damp jeans on your fellow diner. I can tell you as someone who has waited tables for many years that running out like that after creating such a mess is not viewed very kindly. We (waiters) fully understand that kids make messes and that they’re mostly unintentional. In general a small child will make a bigger mess than a dozen adults and parents rarely help to keep it in check or tip us extra for the extra clean up work we do. This is par for the course and it doesn’t bother us. However flipping an entire table is another matter. Would I be angry at your child for doing it in my restaurant? No, stuff happens. Would I expect extra money? Nah, almost nobody ever does that. But what I would love is a quick, “I’m sorry, can I help you clean this?” At that point 99% of restaurant staff would say, “that’s okay, we’ve got it.” And we’d go about our business and no harm done. That’s the best way to handle that situation. I guarantee that if you handle such incidents that way in the future you will find yourself gladly welcomed back into any restaurant with no grudges held. And you would have taught your children a good lesson.

KellyK December 2, 2009, 12:43 PM

Ugg boots = Acid washed True Religions

When we have a regular meal with my 2.5 year old with regular food spillage I bend down pick up the large bits.

If someone came into your home and did that as a guest would you expect them to help clean up?

Anonymous December 2, 2009, 1:42 PM


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