There is a downside to child-friendly eateries. When children realize an establishment caters to their desires, they tend to relax from their best eating-out behavior and view it as a playground with chicken fingers.
We have one or two restaurants where our kids need help remembering they are there to eat, not run an obstacle course. With the younger boys, I have more patience, but I had to explain to the older boy exactly what payback he was setting himself up for.
I told him that in a few years (perhaps as many as 10), it will become his duty to come fortnightly to the nursing home and pick me up. He will spend every other Friday night taking me out for casual dining, in a restaurant very similar to the one in which he is currently taking liberties.
I will behave and make it seem like a pleasant visit with his old dad, until halfway through dinner, at which point I will have one of my spells and begin throwing chicken with ranch dressing and the ice cream flavor of the day onto every window my eroded flinging skills can reach.
Everybody in the restaurant will stare at us. They will conclude that I am in no condition to control myself and wonder why any responsible adult or teenaged boy (as the case may be) would bring me where I would so predictably disrupt the dinner-time peace of many innocent bystanders.
The manager will come to our table with a wad of napkins and assorted damp rags and nod meaningfully at the soiled windows. My son will begin to clean the windows, only realizing he has mis-prioritized his tasks when I hit him in the back of the head with a hunk of chicken he assumes is intended for the window. He will backtrack and clear my area of weaponizable foodstuffs before returning to the secondary task of cleaning the mess.
As he begins to make progress, I will have an “accident” (wink) in my adult diaper, causing many complaints, and leading the manager to ask him to take me out, regardless of his progress on the windows.
It will be a relief to get me away from there, except that, despite my mental feebleness, I’m still spry, racing among the tables, taunting him with my nimble kicks.
He and three employees corner me. As he escorts me to the car, I wail in piercing tones that I haven’t had my ice cream.
He’s humiliated. I ask how many days until our next outing.
I am not sure this prophesy has any lasting effect upon him, but while he’s shaking his head in horror and thinking up excuses for missing our inaugural Friday appointment, he’s not playing tag with his brothers.
For the record, my children don’t throw food at the windows. Also, dementia is a tragic and serious illness, and I will only fake it as a last resort if my children keep pushing me toward payback.