It's no surprise that children can be difficult to handle. They have endless amounts of energy, a tendency to act out, and generally, don't like to listen to their parents or other adults for that matter. Add a restaurant to the mix, and it can be a recipe for disaster.
A Reddit thread recently asked servers, bartenders, and other food service professionals to reveal their worst experience with children and their parents while on the job. When the parents didn't step up, the people in the following stories were forced to take action and take care of the situation. All posts have been edited for clarity.
Your Two-Year-Old Must Be Smart For His Age
“In college, I worked for a floral shop that shared a space with a bakery. We had the space for both businesses to operate and it naturally was a good partnership. This story takes place near the end of my senior year. I was six weeks shy of graduating with two degrees. Although I cared about the stores and wanted them to do well, my nonsense-tolerance had dropped significantly. One day, a woman came to me for balloons for her son’s 2nd birthday party. She had already picked up her cake.
Woman: (Grumpily tossing her balloon choices at me) ‘Ugh, I can’t believe the bakery.’
Me: ‘Oh, is there something wrong?’
Woman: ‘Yes! LOOK at this cake!’
She opens the box. It’s a nice-looking cake, decorated with icing and trains. A scrolling script says: ‘Happy 2nd Birthday Jackson!’
Woman: ‘DON’T YOU SEE IT?!’
Me: ‘I think it’s a lovely ca–‘
Woman: ‘IT’S IN CURSIVE! WHY WOULD THEY PUT IT IN CURSIVE? HE’S TWO!’
Me: ‘Oh…well, it’ll take me a couple minutes to fill these balloons. I bet you could take it back, and they could scrape off the old lettering, re-frost the blank space, and rewrite it for you.’
Woman: (Clearly hasn’t heard a word I said) ‘I CAN’T BELIEVE SOMEONE IS SO STUPID TO THINK THIS IS OKAY!’
Me: (Yelling above her) ‘CAN YOUR SON EVEN READ?!’
She immediately fell silent, blushed a deep purple, and was silent while I filled her balloons. She paid without a word.”
This Is Why You Don’t Bring Kids To A Bar
“On Superbowl Sunday, a man ran inside and when I asked how I could help him, he replied that he was checking if our restaurant was kid-friendly. It wasn’t; I worked at a dive bar near a college that is chaotic, but we did have a small kids’ menu and one highchair. Since it was dead due to the game, he decided it will work.
So this man, his wife, and two kids came in and grabbed a seat. It started off well enough as they ordered drinks and then food. The kids were chatting me up and asking me crazy questions, but I indulged them. However, as the family waited for their food, the kids started getting antsy, started screeching, then started fighting each other with silverware. Okay, fine. If the kids hurt each other, that’s not on me.
So I dropped off the food, and when I came back to check on them, it was complete chaos. One kid was licking ketchup off of a plate, the other was under the table slinging noodles everywhere, and the parents were happily eating away without a care in the world.
I pre-bussed as soon as they finished a plate and even stole the ketchup to minimize the damage, but the kids moved on to dumping odds and ended into their to go cups and then proceeded to poke holes in the cups.
There was crap everywhere and to make matters worse, they stay well after the bill is paid, letting their children scream and play in the slop pile they created on the table.”
These Soccer Moms Couldn’t Give Two Craps About Their Daughters’ Rudeness
“So a bunch of stupid soccer moms and their stupid soccer daughters from some stupid soccer team came in around lunchtime. There were around 10 girls, between 10-12 years old, and their moms (so 20 total).
The moms and girls got separate tables. And let me tell you, these girls acted like a bunch of 3-year-olds. Screaming, swearing, getting fingerprints on the glass, spilling drinks and not cleaning them up, leaving chips all over the table… just being a mess in general.
The moms, of course, were just minding their own business, not giving a crap about their daughters’ rude behavior. It took like 15 minutes and three of us to clean up their booth when they left.”
They Were Damaging Property, But Their Mom Couldn’t Care Less
“When I was a waitress, this couple came in with their two kids (aged about four and five). The kids took the silverware and were scratching our wooden tabletops with it. I came over and asked the parents to stop them, and the mom said flippantly, ‘Oh, it’s okay. They’re allowed.’
NO, they are not. This isn’t your house!
I also watched a kid walk up to our flower pot and dump her entire ice cream, container and all, in the pot. I opened the front door and said, ‘HEY! Pick that up!’ The kid shamefacedly picked up the gross, smooshed up ice cream and put it in the trash can that was, I kid you not, five feet away.
About 10 minutes later, the mother came into the restaurant, already furious. ‘Did you yell at my daughter?!’
This little old lady sitting at a table got up and got right in her face. ‘Don’t you talk to her like that!’ Then she just went off on the mom about her bratty kid throwing ice cream in our flowerpot. It was amazing! I thought I was about to see a senior citizen throw fists with a soccer mom!”
And That’s How The West Was Lost
“Over the summer, I worked at a place that had a ‘Wild West’ vibe to it. One of the decorations we had was an old vintage piano that they had managed to keep in good condition for lots of years. One day, I was working the breakfast shift and all of a sudden, I heard the piano playing loudly.
There were signs on the piano telling people NOT to touch it, so I quickly ran over to see this little (6/8-year-old) SMASHING THE KEYS! He was legitimately hitting the keys full force. I tapped the kid on the shoulder and politely told him to stop even though I was furious because it was a beautiful instrument. I looked over to the child’s parents, and they didn’t even look at him or me. They just kept eating.
I’m pretty sure that kid damaged the action on the keys and it can’t play anymore.”
The Parents Thought Letting Him Run Around The Restaurant Would “Tire Him Out”
“The parents had been letting him tear around the restaurant to ‘tire him out’ while they were eating. I made several comments to them about it not being particularly safe for him to be running, full speed, around a busy restaurant on a Friday night, but they blew me off each time. So a little later, I was carrying a tray jack in one hand and a large tray full of food and drinks in the other hand.
As I was approaching a corner, he came, full speed, around the corner and all I had time to do was flinch in a manner that wouldn’t lead to me dropping a tray with a 40-pound load on top of this little prick. The flinch happened to put my knee in line with his face and he hit me. I didn’t drop anything, so I just continued to the table, dropped off the food, and then went to find a manager to go talk to the inattentive parents.”
After The Second “Accident,” That Family Was Banned For Life
“It’s a Sunday morning. We are an Italian pasta place and I’m serving tables with one of my best friends. It’s just us two and our manager in the morning since we don’t do much business for Sunday lunch. We have a family of regulars who had been troublesome in the past. They always sit outside and the week prior, the 6-year-old kid whipped his junk out and peed on the ground. We politely asked them to make sure it didn’t happen again and washed the ground with a hose. They came in a lot and luckily no other customers were outside at the time.
So the family came in, and I look at my friend and say, ‘I’m not serving them. You take them, and I’ll close lunch for you.’ He agrees. He drops off bread and water to the table, then he starts a conversation with the parents and makes some small talk. That’s when he starts to hear something. Then his leg gets warm. This little kid whips his junk out and is peeing on the ground again. This time, though, it isn’t just on the ground, it’s on my friend’s pants and shoes. He runs back in with the most confused and angry look and tells our manager. The manager runs outside, sees a puddle at the table, and tells them to leave and never come back.
The mom later goes on to write a horrid review online about how we aren’t family friendly, and kids have accidents. Your kid PEED ON OUR STAFF.”
She Only Served Them Once, But She’d Never Do It Again
“Two younger moms (part of that religious cult where women don’t typically work and wear blue jean skirts, all women tend to be on the heavier side, have long hair, no makeup, don’t talk if husbands are present, but man will they sound off on you and get super bossy when they’re alone) were regulars at my restaurant along with their families. Like almost every single day regulars, and these people were always demanding.
It was a lunch shift, and they came in with their two very young boys. I’d guess they were no more than a couple of years old at the time. As I was taking their order, the boys each took a sugar packet from the caddy, ripped them open, and poured them in the napkin basket. The basket held the big rectangle napkins and sani-hand wipes. They were my first customers at that table, and the boys ruined that basket and all its contents.
The moms caught me staring and told the boys in a meek tone, (because they’re male), to stop making a mess. No one tried to grab the unused packets, no one tried to grab the basket from them, they just watched as the boys continued to grab more, and tore everything open. Then they looked back at me like, ‘Why are you still here? Enter my order.’
I walked by later on, and the women were laughing, and the boys were coloring on the booth with their crayons, the moms periodically just verbally telling them to stop. I noticed the sugar caddy was empty and the war zone from all the fallen sugar packets and wet naps all over the table.
For some reason, and I can’t remember where they got it, some older people came in and had a mini-birthday party, but someone gave these little miscreants chocolate cake. After the family left, it looked like someone had diarrhea and it exploded all over the whole booth.
I refused to wait on that family ever again. I had to clean that booth entirely by myself – and it took me forever.
Oh, and they tipped me $1. A freaking dollar. I distinctly remember them saying they wish they could have tipped me more, and promised to come back when they had more money to give me a little more – never did. They sat there nearly my entire shift, too. They were my official first dose of server frustration in my early waiting career stint.”
“Play Stupid Games, Win Stupid Prizes”
“Years ago, I had guests who were completely ignoring their kids and just let them run around like maniacs through our space. Two of the kids decided playing on the railing to a three-step incline would be a good idea and as I was in the middle of dropping food to the table, one of the boys slipped off the railing and face planted. This little brat split his head wide open; it was freaking gnarly. I’m not talking just a cut either; his skull was cracked. There was blood everywhere and it was pandemonium. The kid was freaking out and screaming, people at different tables jumped up, and one person got sick. The family scooped him up and started running for the doors as no less than five people called 911.
The best part? I froze. I saw it all happen. I was at this family’s table. And the dad, this crazy sucker…he was in the middle of asking me a question about the food in my hands when the kid bashed in his face. The dad looked over at him, then back at me, then he jumped up and got in my face to yell at me, ‘WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY KID!?’ It was absolutely insane. After that, it’s all a bit of a blur. One of the adults stayed behind to settle the bill. I’m sure he was ok, and to my knowledge, nothing ever came of it, lawsuits and the like. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.”
Despondent Over Fondant
“I worked at a lovely bakery while I was in college. We made everything from scratch, the prices were extremely reasonable, and most of our customers were great, and had shopped there all their lives. It was a mom and pop shop.
At one point, a competitor had to shut down for an extended period of time. I think they had some flood damage or something and they had to do some extensive repairs and couldn’t open. We had quite a few of their customers come in to get birthday cakes, cookies, etc. since there were only a few bakeries available outside of a chain grocery store or Walmart. Most of them were very nice and understood that we didn’t offer the exact items that our competitor did. Some even chose to come back after the competitor reopened.
There was one woman that did NOT understand. A young mom pushing a stroller came in one day inquiring about a birthday cake for the adorable cherub in the stroller. She asked about flavors and fillings. When I asked her how she wanted it decorated, it went sideways real quick.
Crazy Lady: ‘I want the cake carved into the shape of a number one and covered in fondant with no buttercream.’
Me: ‘I’m so sorry, we don’t carve cakes, and we don’t use fondant at all. I can ice a number one on the top in a shade of blue to match your decor, or just about anything else.’
She was visibly getting red as I was talking. She didn’t say anything for about 10 seconds, then she unleashed it.
Crazy Lady: ‘HOW CAN YOU NOT USE FONDANT? [Other Bakery] USES FONDANT ALL THE TIME! YOU CAN CARVE CAKES, THERE’S NO REASON YOU CAN’T!’
Me: ‘We don’t make fondant and the majority of our customers don’t ask for it. We are kind of known for our scratch-made buttercream. It’s really good.’
CL: ‘BUTTERCREAM IS AWFUL! I DON’T WANT MY BABY EATING THAT GARBAGE!’
Side note: This was a ridiculous thing to say because bakers use buttercream to make fondant stick to the cake. If she bought cakes with fondant ‘all the time,’ that means her baby already ate buttercream all the time.
M: ‘That’s all we use, other than chocolate, cream cheese, and German chocolate. And we don’t carve cakes because our cakes are too fragile, you would have a pile of cake crumbs and icing once you got it home.’
She continued ranting for a few minutes and was so loud that our baker in the back came to check what the noise was. She never did ask for a manager or ask to speak with someone else, she just yelled at me.
To his credit, the kid slept through the entire thing. I’m sure he was used to it.
She finally stopped yelling long enough to stare at me for a second, point in my face and say,
CL: ‘I will NEVER come back here again! You lost a customer today! Worthless!!’
I just smiled and told her it was no problem. Have a nice day.
She angrily marched to our door and struggled to get the stroller through, while giving me a death stare. I just smiled and waved goodbye.”
A Kid Loses It Over Doritos
“I worked at a Subway many years ago. One day we’ve got a full, stacked house. The line is several people deep, so we’re just trying to work through people as fast as we can. A family – parents and one young kid, maybe 5-7 years old, come in and get in line. Once they get near the display for chips, the kid starts acting up about how he wants some Doritos.
No big deal, normally, but the kid starts yelling and screaming and making a scene. The parents look exhausted beyond their years and just try to calmly and quietly inform him no, that he isn’t getting chips. The screaming goes on and the brat remains at the display but the parents move on, getting their order in and ignoring him. Taking our cue from them, we and the other customers do the same.
As they are ringing up, the boy realizes that his ploy has failed and he must up his game. I see him look at the chips in his hand, at his parents, back again, then at me. Calculation crosses his eyes and he asks me, ‘If I break this, do they have to pay for it?’
Quick as you please he drops the chips on the ground and stomps them hard with his foot, making a very recognizable pop sound as the bag explodes. The room is stunned. Everyone slowly turns to the parents. They look, sigh, and ask my bud to ring up a bag of chips. They pay and leave, never once rebuking the child.
If I had tried that as a kid, I wouldn’t be alive to post this story.”
This Is NOT A Jungle Gym
“I worked at a little place on a pier with outdoor tables. The tables were big, heavy, and made out of cement. A group of parents were letting their kids treat the open table next to them like a jungle gym, crawling over, under, around. As if that wasn’t bad enough, one of the children had a knife in their hands. Instinct took over, and I walked over, took the knife out of the kid’s hand, then handed it to the mother.
I didn’t say a word or make a sound, but my point was received, and she just responded with ‘Sorry.’ I didn’t even speak, I just turned and walked away.”
They Watched Him Die Right In Front Of Their Eyes
“I was 19 and working at KFC in a bit of a rough area. It was a quiet day shift, so there were only three staff and no customers in the store at the time. A young couple, who looked pretty messed up, walked in and went straight to the bathrooms.
After some time, the girl came out screaming for help. She said her boyfriend had gone into the bathroom to use smack and he was not responding and was inside the locked men’s room.
My manager called an ambulance while I tried to get the door open. I couldn’t kick it down like Chuck Norris, so I went and grabbed some tools and finally got it open.
Found the kid blue and cold on the floor. His pulse was faint. There was a syringe next to him. He had blood in his mouth so I couldn’t make mouth to mouth contact, but I started administering chest compressions. The whole time his girlfriend was screaming at me to save him.
I feel like I could sense the moment he had passed. The ambulance came within a few minutes, but there was nothing they could do.
His mother came a few days later to apologize and thank us for trying to save him. There were some police questioning and plenty of nightmares. It has been about 17 years and I still think about it often.”
Their Dad Was In Complete Denial About Their Bad Behavior
“I have had parents change their children’s diapers ON THE TABLE. But what got me was when a toddler took off his pants and diaper and just walked around the restaurant naked. The mom noticed but didn’t do anything about it. She just let him wander with his dong out.
There’s also a guy that brings in his two young girls periodically and we all hate them. Their mom left suddenly, so I know he wants them to be happy, but he lets them do whatever they want. They fight loudly with each other every time over every single thing; they yell at us when their food isn’t out a minute after ordering; they’ve run into the kitchen to yell about where their food is; they’ll cry if one of them gets a slightly larger cookie than the other.
But the reason I hate them is because one time, they wrote their names on the bathroom wall in crayon and when the bartender asked why they did it, they claimed it wasn’t them. It was their names and they were the only children in the restaurant at the time, but their father said that he didn’t think it was them. And then the next time they came in, they did it again. They’re the worst.”
A Total Jekyll And Hyde Baby
“Way back when I waited tables, I had a family of regulars that came in every Sunday after church. About half the time, there were no problems, but the other half, their toddler would throw a tantrum in her high chair and turn into a tornado of eggs, oatmeal, and anything else she could grab.
I honestly couldn’t believe the parents.
They didn’t take the kid outside and just ignored the kicking and screaming, and they didn’t stop the kid from chucking food all over the place. It took a good ten minutes to scrape all the gunk up off the floor after they left, it looked like a bomb went off and you could see the debris circle around the high chair.
I always wanted to strangle the little turd, but eventually, she grew out of it.”