Eating out an eye opener!

I was an extremely proud dad today at the behaviour of my children in Pizza Hut. I am not saying that my children are normally badly behaved but it was a pleasure not to have to rush the meal when there was considerable distraction in the restaurant.

It may seem like bribery but it is my eldest daughters favourite treat. After waiting twenty minutes for a hair cut without her Nintendo, which must have seemed like she had her arms cut off, she then had to endure a plant buying trip around Homebase and a trip to the petrol station before we entered Pizza Hut.

Reunited with her Nintendo she sat and waited for her meal without any fuss and joined in the colouring game with her younger sister, with the usual promise of balloons for good behaviour, the looks of distress came as the waitress – for an unknown reason – quickly removed the balloons from the till area and made a beeline for the kitchen.

As we sought to reassure my 3-year-old that we would get her a balloon after she had eaten her food, a family or group of 10 sat down, with two adults, maybe 3  teenagers, and five children under the age of 6.

All hell broke loose as the children ran riot. Very quickly the salad cart resembled a kitchen scraps bin, as the sweetcorn, tomatoes, cucumber all carefully contained in their own tubs went for a holiday and joined their friends’ tubs or the floor. Utensils became weapons,  children’s fingers quickly replacing them, the waitress trying desperately and politely to maintain some health and hygiene but fighting a losing battle.

Back at the table I tell my children to stop staring, but it is difficult as one adult tells the teenager to “F *** off” in a rather loud voice, a volley of verbal bashing and again the waitress doing her best to remind them that there were a number of children in the restaurant not least their own.

By this time my two appeared angels as they ate starters and then main course. The food fight between two youngsters continued until there was no food left, as their mother chatted away to the other adult at one end of the table. It seemed they were regulars as their pizzas arrived in record time and that which didn’t go on the floor was also consumed in record-breaking time as the staff sought to get them out as soon as possible.

At this point the adults, still in deep conversation, could and should have started to ask the children to sit back up at the table instead of playing chase through the restaurant or developing a skid patch by tipping the fruitshoot on the wooden floor, but no they obviously needed to catch up. A number of times the children were asked by the waitress to stop trying to go into the kitchen.

I admired the juggling skills of the waitress who with hot pizza pans was bumped from behind but held onto another family’s meal. With all children, save the teenager who was sulking, now playing hide and seek or tag around a small restaurant the adults were politely handed the bill.

This was the cue the kids wanted, it meant home time or balloon time, or most importantly raid the sweets from the ice cream factory, eating as many as they could get in their mouths or pockets as two at a time the others demanded balloons including wandering into the kitchen to try to find them. I almost spat my drink out as I overheard one adult say “the staff are so rude here we should have discount!”

The whirlwind had left, 20 minutes, the seating area had been trashed with food and drink everywhere, an apologetic waitress came over and said they had to remove the balloons from the front as they are usually stolen by the kids who let them go outside the door, the free crayons and approximately 30 menus for children were recovered by another member of staff who waited out front as they left and retrieved them from one of the children.

My three-year old asked “why did those children get balloons, they didn’t behave very well?” It was difficult to answer that one and all I could say was her behaviour was excellent and I was very proud.


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