On Sunday night, we went out to my nephew’s favorite restaurant to celebrate his tenth birthday. We were seated at a nice long table in a room just off the entrance. I always call these the “large party with kids” rooms – close enough to the main dining room to feel like you’re part of the action, far enough away that your kids won’t disturb anyone.

Going out to dinner with my kids, niece, and nephews has definitely gotten a lot easier now that they are 7, 10, and 12. James is still a wildcard but he does well if his cousins and sister all model good behavior, which they do much more reliably now in their “old” ages. As long as James can sit by one of his cousins, he’s happy.

We’d just gotten our appetizers when suddenly, a woman stormed into the restaurant and went right up to the table next to ours, where an older gentleman and his adult daughters were seated. “HOW COULD YOU NOT HAVE CALLED ME?!” she screamed, smacking the man over and over with her purse. One of the daughters pushed the woman away and shouted, “Mom, get out of here!” and she stomped off.

Meanwhile, our table had five little heads completely turned around in their seats, staring.

So I’m like, “HEY! HOW ‘BOUT THIS EDAMAME? IT’S EDA-YUMMY, AMIRITE?!”

From where we were sitting, we could see the woman re-enter the restaurant, but before we could say anything she was back at the table where she picked up the man’s drink and threw. it. in. his. face.

Annie: Dude, chill.
Me: HEY LET’S ALL TURN AROUND NOW!
Michaela: She just threw a drink!
James: YOU SHOULDA CALLED ME! YOU SHOULDA CALLED ME!
Mike: I wish this edamame was popcorn.

At this point, the manager came over and got a handle on things, which only lead to 1,000 questions from the younger kids.

“Why are they fighting? Will he get a new drink? Why didn’t he call? What should he have called about? Has she been drinking alcohol?

And when the woman ended up joining the table for the rest of their meal, the kids’ brains basically exploded.

“I wouldn’t let her sit next to me without getting me some towels or something. Why is she staying? She should be in time out. Do you think she will get kicked out? Why would they do that in front of everyone? She doesn’t deserve a fortune cookie.”

We explained to the younger kids that sometimes you get really upset and you forget that you’re around other people. We also said that it was a good thing the restaurant manager was close by, because he came over and calmed them down. “I want to be the manager of a restaurant,” Annie said. “I love telling people what to do.”

Most importantly, we stressed that sometimes things like this happen and when they do, you have to be polite and mind your own business. “Okay,” Annie said. “I’ll just listen really hard and watch out of the corner of my eye.”

Me: Uh…
Mike: Exactly.