Tumultuous Toddler In The Tearoom

November 22, 2009

in Kid Stories

My husband and I spent our honeymoon over Christmas in London a few years ago. We had heard Christmas tea at the Ritz was (while of course a bit touristy) a special thing to do in London around the holidays. So I booked a champagne tea for two months in advance and swallowed our sticker shock at the price – it was $2 to the pound back then but we knew it would be a memorable treat.

Well, the tea was memorable, but for a different reason than we anticipated. The decorations were lovely, I do remember that. The service was mildly attentive but not what you’d expect from a hotel of this caliber. What we both vividly remember was the two year old at the table squarely in the center of the tearoom, behaving in a manner not suitable at any family-friendly restaurant, let alone the Ritz tearoom, where all men are expected to be in coat and tie and ladies in their smartest afternoon dress.

This child was not only screaming, he was climbing over his chair and pulling the hair of the lady behind him, messing with the delicately adorned Christmas tree, and I repeat, screaming at the top of his lungs repeatedly through the meal. The parents made no effort to remove him from the tearoom, there were no visible disciplinary measures taken other than “shushing,” which did not have any affect whatsoever. I felt for this kid, who was receiving his fair share of ugly looks thanks to his lack of parenting and need for attention.

I glared down the waiters, who appeared unfazed as the toddler continued to scream in the middle of the tearoom. Surely they will do something! Any place with a strict dress code should know that this is far more offensive than any jeans or trainers would be to one’s fellow diners, who are paying a high price for the privilege of being there. All the other patrons were visibly shocked and irritated as well – and the poor lady who was most affected deserved a medal for her patience (or perhaps should have been the one to say something on all of our behalf?). I don’t care if little Prince William is sitting in that chair, it was intolerably inconsiderate.

Shame on his parents for taking him to an expensive restaurant and expecting him to behave, and shame on the Ritz for not doing anything about the situation. Looking back, shame on us for not fighting them on the bill. I can’t believe we paid £100 to sit at TGI Fridays!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura November 22, 2009 at 8:53 am

A server is not a baby sitter. The way I see it is if someone is fortunate enough to have the finances to patron an establishment such as this, they can pretty much do what they want (especially if they tip well); although I can't imagine anyone allowing their child to behave that way without some kind of consequence. With all the laws and ideas now I'm sure the last thing a server would do be to touch the child and recieve a law suit or something similar. Trust me, there have been many times where I wanted to pick a kid up and sit him back in his chair, but afraid to do so, fearful of the partents reaction.


1. Leave. Tell your server you can't tolerate the childs behavior. You're sorry, you must go. Pay your tab and go. Perhaps you can return at down time, your experience should be 100% better.

2. Politely ask the parents themselves to take care of the child. I have seen this done, it's quite effective.

3. If your server has the time, ask them to ask the parents to maintain the child. I have done this. I would rather have two tables to wait on than none.

4. Move. Ask for another table if there is one available.

5. If your so bold, and have the money to do so; pay for the annoying tables tab so they will leave. If they have aggrivated everyone in the restaurant, you may be surprised when you get -your- tab paid for.


ps November 23, 2009 at 7:12 am

You should have bolted- Meridian's down the block and the Dorchester is nearby. Both are just as good and the price just as ridiculous.


Kad December 16, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Laura has it with #1. Leave. Decline to pay the tab as the atmosphere is not conducive to polite dining.

Any place that sets rules for decorum and dress should be able to remove a nasty, ill-behaved patron (at any age) forthwith, if only to preserve their reputation.


Centerpieces for Tab January 12, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I'd ask for another table if another is available. You're not only paying for food but service and atmosphere.


Baby Hats January 26, 2010 at 4:56 am

I have a two-year old baby myself and I feel for those parents. You can't exactly reason with the baby and get him to behave. They made a mistake in choosing to bring him to a nice restaurant, I can't imagine any two-year-old baby sitting still for a whole meal, nosir hat's a fact, Baby. If I were them, I would have been plenty embarassed early on with all the toddler's screaming and carrying on, we would have left straightaway. It is hard to blame the restaurant, though. What would their policy be if someone had a younger infant or a newborn. Obviously you wouldn't expect that baby to behave herself, so should the restaurant have a no baby policy?


College Kid November 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

No, but you can try actually disciplining your children, its ok to hit them, they wont break, fail parent


Amber May 12, 2016 at 12:17 pm

It's illegal to hit a child, so your comment is absurd and ignorant. You can also barely discipline a 2 year old child that cannot fully grasp what is or isn't appropriate behaviour. a 2 year old has very little vocabulary, they don't understand why they are being 'disciplined' they also don't understand that what they were doing was bad. They're emotions need an outlet and their only outlet at that age is screaming and crying.


Chardonnay November 22, 2018 at 12:58 pm

It is not illegal to spank a child's bottom. I've seen plenty of people do it in public. That's not abuse. Granted I've done it rarely myself.


Erik January 3, 2011 at 2:56 pm

It's just like those neighbors I have. I live in an apartment, and the kids in the apartment over mine are always running and screaming indoors. Once, I had to go up and talk to the mother about it.


benjamin thomas February 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm

i'm going to stop coming here. you have an absolutely fab site, but you allow your trollers to take over your comments section, and that's just sad. there are too many folks out there that seem to have nothing else going on in their lives but to hassle posters. it gives me such a 'sad' that i will never select the comments section again. such sad, mad, and plaid set of commenters that seem to not have the ability to blog, but content themselves with the sadness that is trolling. commenting on someone else's comment, because you have nothing original to say…stop giving them a forum.

please don't respond, don't waste our time. i'll never look at comments or postings on this site. you made me sad, and to feel badly about my fellow human. not the site, mind your butts, but the comments. sad, so so sad. for you.


Mel November 2, 2016 at 3:52 pm

Sorry, OP, but the restaurant staff is risking their jobs if they say something disparaging to a paying customer about their unruly children. Plus, you never know if these are friends of the manager or owner who are getting special treatment and are untouchable. I really hope you didn't penalize the wait staff for the actions of other people they have no control over.


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