When I was a kid, going to a restaurant meant you dressed up a bit, you went with adults, and if you uttered anything above a whisper you were glared at. No wiggling, loud rude sounds, laughing with your mouth full, or silly noises. It was a time to practice being a grown up young lady.
I saw a perfect example of how to handle young children in a restaurant a few weeks back, something that seems woefully lacking these days. Two older people, obviously grampa and grammy, came in with two young boys. They sat. When the menus came, Grammy read off the list of choices. "You can have a hot dog or a hamburger." One had a hamburger, the other had a hot dog. "Do you want gingerale or coke?" one of each. When the waitress came, she ordered for them. It was lovely. Until they get big enough, they will never know of the forty seven other things they could have picked from, nor do they need to. She kept it simple, and easy.
Tonight we went to eat at the same restaurant, and sat near two young mothers with their three young boys. The two older ones hollered, howled, laughed haw haw haw with french fries falling out of their mouths, they raced around the table. The littlest one, confined to a high chair, spent his time throwing as much food as he could across the aisle, and pitching his milk bottle on the floor. The two mothers ignored them all until near the end, when it was time to leave.
We were on our way out as well, and helpful to the end, I picked up the milk bottle and firmly (oh very firmly) placed it on the table, leaving before I started a rant that would still be going on.
It was a stunning example of how parents can tune out the worst behavior in their kids, but if anyone comments, then they look up and tell the kid to stop. And who criticizes someone else's kids, right? I think of it as discipline by proxy, and frankly it's a damn lazy way to raise kids.