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Unruly children

Rick Ryckeley's picture

After a long week of working and school, The Wife was ready for it. And after a long week of fighting fires, rescuing damsels in distress, and writing, I was ready for it too. A much deserved date night – something of a rare occurrence around our house nowadays to be sure.

At 5 in the afternoon, we threw all the worries of work and life aside and walked into the movie theater to view the hottest new release. Afterwards, an enjoyable dining experience at one of the most talked about restaurants in town awaited us.

Or so we thought.

Now what could possibly derail such a romantic evening, you may ask? Just wait, Dear Reader, I have to go to the basement, retrieve my soapbox, dust it off, and stand upon it for the first time this year.

On Saturday afternoon the theater was all but empty so we had our pick of the best seats in the house – exactly halfway up and in the center. The movie soon started. That’s when they came in.

Teenagers are rarely seen out in public alone, especially on the weekends. Six of them started to climb the steps. With each step they took, I prayed they would choose any of the other 100 seats not near us. But nope, you guessed it. As fate would have it, with the rest of the theater empty, they chose to sit right next to the old guy.

That’s when our enjoyable date night came to an annoying end.

Now it’s time to scale my soapbox. I ask you, why would anyone pay $9 for a ticket and $8 for popcorn and a drink just to sit in the dark for two hours and talk on a cell phone?

About halfway through the movie, I would have gotten an answer to my question, but a quick elbow in the ribs from The Wife made me think better of it.

Mistakenly all these years, I’ve understood the main reason one goes to the theater was to watch a movie. Silly me, but what do I know? I’m an old guy. Five phone calls, 10 text messages, and one wrong number later, the movie was finally over.

The Wife and I left the theater, leaving behind the texting and talking bunch of teenagers still in their seats. On the way to the restaurant, we discussed what our parents would have done if we had acted in the same manner.

I told her my dad would’ve popped us on the head with his class ring. Growing up, he popped me on the head more times than I care to count.
The Wife just simply smiled and said, “That could explain a lot.”

The restaurant was full when we arrived, except an empty table at the front. The reason for the only empty table soon became apparent. A large family of seven sat right next to it. The five darling children ranged from age 10 to about 2. What went on for the next hour made me wish we were back sitting next to the annoying texting and talking teenagers.

Here are some of the things I learned during dinner.

Yes, a 2-year-old can scream, cry, and throw food for an entire hour. Apparently four children can run wild in a restaurant without any consequences from management. A front door can be used to lock your little sister out of the restaurant. Banging on it repeatedly will get no one to let her back in – especially her parents or the management.

Decorative miniature trees in a courtyard are actually something to climb on and swing from. The fact small limbs break off while doing so is of little concern.

And finally, an overworked waitress will send an armload of dishes crashing to the floor if run roughshod over by darling little children running amok in a restaurant.

On the way home The Wife was amazed that, through it all, her loving husband didn’t say a word. When asked why, I replied, “If I’d said something, they might have stopped. And that would have ruined the ending to the story I’m about to write.” She laughed the rest of the way home.

Now it’s soapbox time for all you parents out there with darling little children as described above.

First and most important, if you’re a parent, you don’t get a day off from being a parent – unless, of course, you have a baby sister.

The discipline of your children is your responsibility, not the owner of a restaurant or the old guy and his wife sitting at the last table next to the front door.
Restaurants are not playgrounds for children to run around in, nor are decorative trees supposed to be used to climb on and swing from.

Parents who allow their children to run amok when they are young are the first to wonder why their little darlings are constantly in trouble at school or with the law when they get older.

Just try running around during lunch, throwing food, and plowing into the principal. I’m sure he won’t be as nice as we were.

I do have a helpful suggestion for those inattentive parents. Next time you’d like to have a nice evening out with the family at a local restaurant – don’t!

Civilized folks who have well-behaved children would really enjoy it much better if you just stay home. And so would me and The Wife.

Now, the soapbox is once again back in the basement.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for over 26 years and a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His book is available at]

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