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Can You Super-Size That Screaming?
by Charles W. Dowdy


Who are these people taking their newborn children to restaurants? Let me narrow that down. Who are these people taking small children to restaurants that provide a server? Not a server where the level of service is limited to “You want to Super-Size that?” I’m talking about a real live person who knows what might or might not be good with the duck. Just to make sure I’m clear, that excludes any restaurant with playground equipment.

Last week my wife and I went on a date. Since my wife got pregnant the first ten times I looked at her, this represents a sizable investment on our part. Not just financially but an investment in time and effort.

First we have to secure the babysitter, which, depending on what they have heard about our children, requires a good bit of cajoling and in some cases, outright blackmail.

Potential babysitters seem to lose interest when they learn we have four children under the age of six. It’s even worse if they’ve heard about the class action suit filed on behalf of the seventeen babysitters we employed between March and July of 2003, but I won’t even go there.

A good way to circumvent the four-child-objection is simply in the definition itself of the word “children.” For example, when asked, I now say that we only have two children. I do this honestly because I define the word “child” as anyone between the ages of birth and two-years-old. Anyone beyond the two-year-old threshold is, under my terms, included in the preteen category.

This is, quite frankly, NOT a category you need to publicize to the prospective babysitter. There are some negative connotations associated with the term “preteen,” and besides, children in this category are practically self sufficient.

So, anyway, my wife secured the services of a babysitter, who managed to show up at our house within thirty minutes of the assigned time and appeared to be relatively sober.

We exited the house by throwing candy into a corner and slipping away while the children and preteens fought for it, and we arrived at the restaurant just in time for our eight o’clock dinner reservation.

Once we were seated I took my wife’s hands, stared deep into her eyes and was about to launch into a conversation about reality television when THEY came in.

THEY were hard to miss. The mother looked like she had applied her makeup during an earthquake measuring over 8 on the Richter Scale. She was also either a direct descendant of Dolly Parton or she was breastfeeding. The father trudged along behind her. He had the thousand yard stare of someone who’d been in baby country too long, and he was carrying a basket with some type of screeching animal.

THEY were seated right next to us and the father plopped the wailing basket up on the table.

This was supposed to be a nice restaurant. You would have thought THEY would have been seated near the kitchen, or better yet, in Afghanistan. Instead THEY were seated among the general dining population and the surrounding diners were forced to make the obligatory polite comments about the child.

“She’s just darling,” said one woman near them as her husband waved frantically with both arms for another drink.

After a few gracious compliments had been bestowed on the thrashing baby, the mother, like mothers everywhere, dropped that whopper of all lies. “I just fed her so I expect she’ll drop off to sleep at any time.”

Fat chance. Not unless the room runs out of oxygen the way this kid was carrying on but what can you do in this situation? Call the waiter over and say, “Excuse me, we would like to move to another table.”

“Is there any particular table you would like?”

“Somewhere where there are no screaming offspring.”

Instead my wife and I suffered through our meal like rattled Vietnam vets who had just been exposed to some type of live fire exercise. Apparently the only time this child did not scream was when she was crammed up against her mother’s breast, which would have been just fine with me but the mother had to go and order the Rack of Lamb. She passed off the wailing kid to her husband because there is NO WAY she could eat Rack of Lamb with just one hand.

I couldn’t help but wonder, why were these people there? They looked miserable. The meal was costing them a fortune. Why not get a babysitter? Come to think of it, I’ve got some preteens who need the work.

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Charles Dowdy is the father of four and the husband of one. He’s a freelance columnist for several Mississippi newspapers. Editors may contact him at cwdowdyjr@yahoo.com.

For more stories by Charles Dowdy, visit these USADS pages:
Goodby, Debt; Hello, Ricecakes
The Waiting Room War Zone
Small Towns and the 3 Second Intersection Rule
President Bush, Sponge Bob, and a Banana
The Twins Journal
Teeball Dad
Whatcha Doin'?
Amending the Neighborhood Constitution
Pregnant Dad
Double Trouble: Cross-eyed Twins
Hunters and Diaper Bags
Letter to Santa
Brunette Altos and a Five Year Old Wiggler
The Babyroom Racket
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