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The One With the Noisy Toddler and the Pub Argument


We’d been out and about meeting people and running errands and it was lunch time. Instead of driving back home with hungry children, I decided to treat us all to a pub lunch in a pub renowned for being family-friendly.

The novelty of the summer holidays is wearing off for the girls and they’re going through a highly competitive stage, which can mean arguing about ‘who spotted something first’ (in this case the bell behind the bar) or about who receives or finishes their drink first. However, aside from a couple of very minor things, which I quickly nipped in the bud, they were actually very good and that’s always a relief when I’m outnumbered 3:1.

Fruit Shoots, ice-cream and a glass of wine. Guaranteed lunchtime harmony. Not recommended by Gina Ford.

Fruit Shoots, ice-cream and a glass of wine. Guaranteed lunchtime harmony. Not recommended by Gina Ford.

All was going very well but then started some VERY loud screaming from a toddler on another table. The screaming went on, and on, and on. My three were asking me lots of questions about it.

I’m under no illusions; I know that my daughters’ behaviour isn’t impeccable at all times, but the continued screaming was making me feel uncomfortable and if it was me in that situation I’d have taken my child outside if they were making all that noise. In fact, there was a period of about five months, when the twins had just turned two, when we just didn’t take them to restaurants, pubs etc. My eldest was fine, but they wouldn’t stay put in a high chair and they couldn’t be entertained with colouring or drawing. They just wanted to run around. We knew it would be hugely stressful for us (and not relaxing or a treat in any way) and annoying to fellow diners, so we just didn’t do it. It was a stage. We accepted it and then tried dining out when we felt that it would be nice for all of us. When we did, it was a lot better and much more fun.

After what seemed a long time, someone complained (not me by the way). The mother was discreetly spoken to by the staff, who – from what I can gather – asked if she could take her child outside until she calmed down. The mother totally erupted and said she wouldn’t take her child outside, she said her daughter wanted to be held the entire time and that she didn’t give in to that as she was strict with her child. I admired her stance (I too don’t like to give in to demands from the kids), but the 15-month-old girl really was making lunchtime a very unenjoyable experience for everyone else.

The mother then went on what could only be described as a bit of a rampage. She wrongly accused a group of women, who were trying to eat their lunch, of making the complaint (it was in fact one of two businessmen that were having a lunchtime meeting that had). She demanded to know if they were mothers and what they would have done. She didn’t let it lie and got really stuck in with them. At this point the manager stepped in and asked her to stop harassing customers.

It was all rather awkward. She didn’t give in to her toddler’s attention-seeking behaviour, but she did heavily impact the dining experience of everyone else in the pub for the worse.

What would you have done?


About Author

I’m Fran: wife, mother-of-three and freelance publicist. My love for communicating and writing mirrors my passion for trying to be the best mum I can be. I love good food & wine, Italian culture and football and have a keen interest in personal finance. I also blog over on Epsom & Ewell Families and Habyts, and write sporadically for a number of other sites.


  1. Well, I would’ve probably packed up and left if I couldn’t stop the yelling, especially if I was alone. But stress does funny things to people doesn’t it. A while ago my husband was called a ‘f’ing c’ by a woman in the park with two kids in a buggy because he asked her to keep her dog away from ours. About ten mins later she came back over and apologised, saying she was having a bad day and couldn’t control her dog and her kids and his request was the last straw. She was lucky she ran into him, and not me! What I find interesting is that she automatically assumed the women had grassed her up, which says it all about our conscious fears of appearing like a bad mother and how that makes us behave.

    • I’d have certainly gone outside to see if I could have defused it, but failing that would have left. It was very interesting that she assumed it was the women. Suggests that mothers feel there is little empathy from other mothers. Sad.

      I think I’d have gone rather ballistic at the dog woman if she’d said something like that to me. As you say though, stress can do funny things to people (although I hope that no matter how much stress I was under I’d never retaliate like that). On that theme, I do find dogs and children another difficult area to negotiate. My eldest is rather afraid of them and it’s difficult to know what to do when one comes bounding over and starts jumping up at her.

      • Well, I can give you a whole range of emotions/comments/tips about kids and dogs or dogs and dogs, but the two common things the stories have are underconfidence and worry about public perception making women react badly to stressful situations. Parenthood, I find, drains your confidence from the bottom as you battle new problems, at the same time as it’s filling it up from the top by showing you that you can, and will cope.

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