Lies I Tell My Daughter

"We Have To Take Our Food To Go, The Restaurant's Closing"

I admit, I dread taking my daughter to restaurants. Once in a blue moon, she’ll behave, but for the most part, she doesn’t sit still, drops food under the table and tries to pick it up and eat it, and after I order whatever it is she asks for she looks at it and says she wants something else.

When our waiter comes up to take our order Sunny will say, “I want coffee and a piece of cake please”. If we’re in a restaurant with booths, she hangs over the other person’s side of the booth and just stares at them while I frantically plead with her to sit down.

At least while she’s staring at the people whose booth she’s practically joined, she’s quiet. But I really don’t know what’s worse- the temporary moment of her quietly staring at the old people eating their Denver Omelets or randomly announcing at at the top of her voice, that she needs to poo poo while people are eating.

You know what’s not fun? Watching Sunny take all of the Splendas and tearing them open and pouring them out one by one. Also, I know this is weird, but she begs me to drink her apple juice out of a wine glass so it looks exactly white wine and I’ll be getting mean looks from people who think I’m drinking wine with my four year old daughter at a Cheesecake Factory.  Then sometimes when we’re out, she’ll say really loudly, “Mommy, where’s my wine?”

Of course, if you ask her, she loves going to restaurants. Her favorite part of being in a restaurant is sitting and having a leisurely meal. She feels really grown up and like a character out of one of her “Fancy Nancy” books.

Do you blame me for wanting to take things to go???


  • Jocelyn Geboy

    1. There has to be some other way to post a comment than to have to Facebook connect. If you want me to not be anonymous (internet shittiness is rampant, for sure), that’s cool. But I shouldn’t have to hook up my FB to talk. Boo.

    2. I can’t tell if this post is a joke. if it is and I’m missing the joke, I apologize. if it’s not, then, I’m trying, as an adult woman, to be better about being non-judgmental and living and letting live. but ….

    3. I’m 37 years old. and one of the things that I have noticed over the years is that there seems to have been a role reversal of parent and child that is quite disturbing. Especially in the arena of such things like … going to public places like restaurants.

    I’m not one of those kids whose parents brought out “the belt” or anything. I didn’t get spanked too often, either. But when we went to a restaurant? Man, we didn’t screw around. We were so happy to be eating out, that we wouldn’t have *dreamed* of opening Splenda (Sweet & Low back then). And if we had TRIED, our parents would have told us not to touch it, and that would have. been. that. And just because we asked or even begged for something (which wouldn’t have been tolerated for long), didn’t mean our parents did what we asked. There was no announcing *anything* “at the top of our voices.” We were in our seats, ready to order and ready to eat. There was no frantic pleading on our parents’ part. We would have been leaving the restaurant with absolutely nothing to go before it got to that point.

    It’s not just the author of this post. When I waited tables over 14 years ago at the illustrious Baker’s Square chain, people would just let their kids run around as if it were a playground. And regardless of my disdain of the practice, I was more concerned that one of the servers (many of whom were high school kids) would end up tripping on them or dropping something on their head. My parents weren’t tyrants, but there definitely was no confusion who was in charge when we were growing up, and I just don’t know where that got lost from their generation to ours.

  • Kathleen McAlister

    ^ agreed. all of it.

  • Eli Nieves

    I agree 100% with post number one. I don’t know if this is a joke, but if it’s not, you’re child has far more power in this dynamic than she should have. My parents NEVER allowed that kind of behavior, and acting out in such a manner was just never an option. It would have never occurred to me. There was only one outburst in their three kids (my brother at his own surprise birthday party at a Denny’s) and to this day it’s still mentioned (20 years later).
    Furthermore, if she’s behaving in an embarrassing way, you won’t even tell her??? Instead, you’ll lie about going out? NO. You can say (in much nicer terms) that taking her out is a bit of a chore and until she learns how to behave herself in an appropriate fashion, you’ll be taking food to go. It must be better than “frantically pleading” for her to do so (seriously, power dynamic is not right here).
    Alternatively, you or your significant other can cook at home. God knows it’s healthier than the cheesecake factory which was notorious for trying to hide the nutritional content of their meals. You can cook with her, too. That may also make her feel more “grown up” like her books.

  • Elle Caddie

    So, I don’t think the first few comments are really in the spirit of the story… You can be a great parent & exercise a certain amount of control over your kids in public (& really have the whole parent-child power dynamic down) & events like those described will still happen. Children are children, not mini-adults, they don’t logically think through things like adults do. All kids have their moments of public (& otherwise) misbehaviour, no matter how “good” they or their parents are. A favourite story from my childhood about how you can’t control kids behaviour in public is when I went to the cinema with my Dad & he lied about my age to save money & I kept piping up with my actual age. He was so embarrassed trying to convince me that I was actually a year younger. Point is, you can’t always control what kids say & do. That’s part of what makes parenting fun, & part of what makes kids, kids. I personally love all the ‘Lies I Tell My Daughter’ stories, I think provide a realistic & humorous look at the challenges faced by parents.

  • Ally Monge

    So… I thought this post was funny….. really loved the “mommy where’s my wine?” My parents did a good job, but I remember my moms always freaking out when I decided my hamburger should have been deglazed with root beer or that everyone should use 4 straws. It’s all in the spirit of good fun people. Chill out.

  • Ally Monge

    My dad was sometimes just as bad. He refuses to leave any restaurant until he has had at least 5 refills. Just funny idiosyncrasies in my opinion.

  • Marilee Morin

    I love this story! To the previous posters who apparently remember being a child, but evidently do not have experience with children: There is a difference between having control over your children in any given moment and having a “Resteraunt experience”. kids in themselves are a study in Lets push the envelope as far as we can. Even the most well behaved child will be curious and out of their element when dining out, and anyone who has been with a child during new experiences knows that what they do and how they react to those situations can be quite unpredictable. Most parents expect their child to be well behaved and have manners, but how do we teach them these manners and behavior? By exposing them to situations like eating out in public. Many of us fail miserably. A child who has the ability to be independant and stay busy while at home until a meal is served, really cannot be expected to just sit still and enjoy the ambiance of an establishment. They will want to look around, turn around and “visit’ the next booth. Unwrap their silverware, see what those little yellow, pink and blue packets of stuff on their table contain and see whatever mischief they can find. This is a normal child. Allowing them some exploration is more tolerable to us parents than scolding out child and having people look at us like Wack job parents. I see peole looking at me like”Why are you yelling at your kids while I am eating?” “Why are you bringing your child to this resteraunt and not feeding them at home?
    In this world of McDonalds playlands and the conflict of feeding our kids fastfood, I feel it is the same judgemental people telling us what we should be feeding our kids as the ones who do not want them in “their” resteraunts.
    Affording these kids and their parents a little bit of empathy that they may have had to bring their child out to dinner for many reasons, and may not have a bag of tricks with them to keep said children busy until their food is delivered to the table.
    We have just as much right to dine out as any other person, we just have these little people who are not adapted to public dining. And never will be if we keep them isolated at home.
    I can guarentee you that most of the parents of children who seem to be running amok, are extremely embarrassed and only want to get the food, quickly eat it and get the hell out of dodge before they feel overwhelmed by the not so expected actions of their children
    Could we not all have some sympathy for those of us who for one night do not want to cook dinner, but have somone serve us. I promise this is not a relaxing experience and most of us would rather cut off an arm than have our kids behave this way. But shit happens and when you have small kids, you really just have to roll with it, If you make too much out of it then said child knows which buttons to push next time to make mommy look like a wild woman..
    I found this piece to be funny and very much to be the same as my experience with my 4 kids aged 21, 15 and 8 year old twins. Every single one of them did the same things experimenting with what is acceptabe and what is not. Thank you for starting my day with a chuckle of I am not alone!

  • Katie Peters

    I typically like this column, but having worked in a restaurant for most of my adult life, I can’t really get into it. I mean, I’m glad you typically take your food to go. Most parents don’t have the same remorse about their kids acting like hellions. I’ve cleaned up more Splenda packets than I can remember. Ugh.

  • Signe Knag Pedersen

    I thought this was a great post. It reminded me of my mom’s stories of me as a kid. For a few years she just never took me to restaurants. I eventually grew out of it, but until then you’ll have some funny stories to tell.
    To the first three comments, have you ever heard the phrase if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all?

    • Eli Nieves

      Don’t be ridiculous. Us first three posters were more than polite, but we shared a difference in opinion. That does not mean that we’re not being nice. If you can’t suffer someone disagreeing with you, I suggest you get off the internet… and don’t wander too far from the “yes-men” in your life.

  • Dimitry Gabo

    to post a comment

  • Dimitry Gabo

    the posts as always perfect! I love your blog this is a fact consummate.

  • Elyse Seisser

    I do agree that the forst few posters have a point- sometimes, it seems that kids do get away with A LOT these days, in comparison to previous generations. However, MOST parents are trying desperately to control and shape their children’s future in any way they can. Kids are kids, and they sometimes don’t behave in the way we’d like. The booth neighbors might not like it, the restaurant workers might not like it, but who REALLY doesn’t like it, is the parents. I work at a Red Robin, and feel more than able to complain, but I wont. Life is messy sometimes, and it’s my job to encourage “fun,” even when it feels impossible.
    Maybe the first few posters should get back to us when they have kids, or grow a sense of reality.

  • Tracey Magnuson

    Post 1 all the way. Simply telling others to go have kids before they judge your poor parenting is not much of an argument.

  • Jennifyr Falco

    As a waitress, I’ve seen many well behaved young children who are good at eating out and behave extremely well, I have also seen kids who have run everywhere, including behind the counter, and there parents just follow them around hopelessly, or make me babysit. If you have children that are disobedient, do not bring them to a sit down restaurant. We carry heavy plates and do not want to trip over your children for our benefit and for theirs. It’s rude to other customers and it’s rude to your waitress. Either get a babysitter, teach your kids to be well behaved in public places, or stay home. To those parents with well behaved children, politeness is adorable, and thank you.

  • Caroline Duff

    I behaved in a very similar fashion to Sunny when I was little, when going out to restaurants. I didn’t want to sit still, I didn’t want to eat when my food came, and I once loudly proclaimed that a woman, whom we knew, was UGLY, at the top of my voice. My parents solution? They stopped taking me out. They were upfront with me about why I could not go with them, and instead I got to hangout with the babysitter at home. Two years after they stopped taking me out to dinner, as they were getting ready to go out one evening, I asked if I could go with. My father directly asked me if I was going to sit and not run around, and eat what was put before me when it came. I said yes, and I did follow those rules, knowing that if I didn’t I wouldn’t be allowed out with them, again, for a very long time. I understand that life is messy, and children are messy, and as much as we want to control them, we can’t (I have lots of work experience in an early childhood setting). Your solution of taking your food to go is great, but it seems like a last resort for you, rather than you go in with the intention of ordering to go. I get a kick out of reading your posts, and some of the one liners you tell your daughter are hilarious, but when it comes to socializing your child you have to be firm with what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Telling her your taking your food to go because the restaurant is closing is not teaching her better manners, which is what the whole going out and being a grown up is supposed to be about. Fancy Nancy is a big believer in etiquette (her fancy word for good manners), so perhaps you could try tying in that element of role play to the dining out experience, as a means to gain your daughter’s cooperation with following restaurant rules.

    • Stevi Clark

      Caroline, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with this comment. I totally agree that if you want your kids to act like adults then you must treat them that way. Being honest with a child about why they may or may not engage in an activity is the first step to helping them be responsible for their actions. All that being said I do sympathize with the author of this story; teaching these sorts of lessons are hard!

  • Simona Pérez

    A few weeks ago I watched Dogtooth, a Greek film. It is about a family that have lied so much to their kids that they wouldn’t know how to behave in society. Of course, that’s a extreme fictional story, but I couldn’t help think of you and your daughter.

    • Julie Obst

      wow, white lying to my daughter about why we’re taking food to go and why a frozen yogurt place is no longer open because she’s being a bad listener makes you think she wouldn’t be able to function in society? That’s pretty serious.

    • Oly Obst

      I also recently saw a Greek Film, it was called “no one asked your opinion”

  • Joy Novick

    There is no reason why anyone needs to take this story to an extreme-it’s merely a funny missive written to describe how a mother “sometimes” manages her daughter in order to get through her day, while trying to remain sane! I do not have a child, but I do have nieces and trying to manage one for a mere 15 minutes can challenge even the most patient person, so please, dont judge, enjoy a funny story!

  • Kimberly Nappi

    I thought this was hilarious (as are all of your “Lies I Tell My Daughter” posts)! You seem like a great mother. Kids will be kids, they say strange, embarrassing, and sometimes taboo things without knowing what they’re really saying…and I think you capture the frustration/appreciation of it really well.

  • Meisha Virtue

    When I was a kid, I could never understand why my mom would never take my siblings and I to restaurants. I thought she was so mean. However, now as a grown up, single woman with no children, I realize that while she was being a “mean” mom, she was being decent to other adults. I expect kids at fast food joints. I expect well behaved kids at family restaurants/diners. I don’t expect to find squawking children that stare at me when I’m out having sushi. Some parents think it’s rude that I don’t think children belong in restaurants- I think it’s rude that they can’t hire a babysitter when they want to have a nice meal, because other people want to have a nice meal too. I’ve seen people bring newborn infants into R-rated, late show movies. There are boundaries between the lives of adults and the lives of children. Thai food and the last Saw movie are those boundaries. You seem like a very funny, sane mother. Even a good mom and typically well behaved kids have their public meltdowns. Thanks for grabbing dinner to go while your daughter works through social protocol!

  • Rachel Jackson

    I enjoy all of the stories in this series, and I’m kind of confused about why there is so much negativity surrounding them. I recently acquired a nanny job here in Los Angeles, and I now spend most of my weekdays with two little boys, aged three and four. While I’m obviously not their mother, I still have my own fair share of hilarious, frustrating, poop-filled stories, and it’s made me realize just how hard it is to raise children. It’s impossible to be a perfect parent (or nanny). You take things as they come, and sometimes you tell white lies or do what it takes to maintain some semblance of sanity, and then either laugh or cry about it later. Talking about my nannying experiences with my mom has also led to her telling me great stories about when I was a precocious four-year-old, which has given me a whole new level of respect for her. Long story short…chill out, people! Bless you and your super funny stories, Julia. I think you sound like a great mom, and I want to be bff with your hilarious daughter. Keep ’em coming.

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