Loading Up for Restaurant Russian Roulette

Restaurant Meltdown

Note: This post is purely satirical and just drawing an analogy.  It’s funny.  Promise

If they had a blacklist at one of the local chain restaurants in Chestnut Hill, my family would be on it.

My daughter had an epic meltdown during our “meal” there last week. It’s hard to call it a meal when my husband and I took turns taking our daughter outside the restaurant or trying to get her to keep calm at the table. It’s mainly our fault. It was a weeknight and it was late. Pair that with the very slow service and it was a perfect storm for a horrific meal.

It got me thinking that going out to a restaurant with a 15-month old is, well, like a game of Russian roulette. The bullet you’re trying to avoid—the epic child meltdown. For those who have never played before, here is how it works. Your goal is to make it through five stages of a meal before the bullet (a meltdown) fires.

Stage 1: As you ease your child into the highchair and s/he doesn’t start crying, you’ve made it through the first proverbial empty bullet chamber.

Stage 2: Navigate through the pre-ordering swiping to the floor of the menus, crayons, bread plates, silverware and anything else within their go-go-Gadget-like extensive arm reach without loud screams and you successfully emptied the second chamber.

Stage 3: Ordering your meal on the surface seems simple, but it requires more multitasking skills than a blind juggler riding a unicorn on a unicycle on a wire above a pit of flames. You need to be able to get your eyes going in separate directions, one making eye contact with the waiter to make sure he writes down no avocado and dressing on the side for your salad, while the other eye scrutinizes your child’s movements for early signs of meltdown. One hand holds the coloring placemat so it doesn’t go sailing to the ground, while the other hand passes the cumbersome menu to the waiter, while confirming he heard dressing on the side, and a third hand (yes, all moms have one), snatches the sippy cup in midflight before it hits the floor and rolls to the not-so-kid-friendly table next store. All the while your thoughts jump back and forth between really wanting to order the nachos, whether to risk the potential crying that sometimes happens when you leave the table to go the bathroom, the report you need to finish for work, and the 20 other things you need to do that day. As the waiter walks away, and the child is still calm, the third chamber releases. You made it. You’re at the halfway point.

WARNING! At this point, you may be feeling cocky. You start looking around at the other families, especially the ones where the parents lost the Russian roulette challenge. You may feel the desire to gloat, or make some snide remark to the other adult dining with you about how those parents don’t know how to control or discipline their child. Don’t do it. Be humble. Be grateful. It’s not really anything you’ve done. It’s just pure luck your loaded gun hasn’t fired yet.

Stage 4: If the entrees arrive and the child actually eats more than a few bites without throwing the majority of the food on the floor, you’ve cleared chamber four.

It’s pretty late in the game at this point. You are at a 50|50 chance of meltdown with the pulling of the trigger to the last stage.

Stage 5: If you manage to pay the bill without your child crying, screaming, whining, or having to bribe the child with a toy, pacifier, dessert or other prize of your liking, you survived another game of restaurant Russian roulette.

Why so many of us choose to play this game so often is hard to say. There is no real prize. Let’s be honest, we’ve just delayed the bullet—the inevitable meltdown. I guess it is because even with the underlying stress that comes with the restaurant Russian roulette game, somehow having a somewhat semi enjoyable meal that doesn’t require you to cook or clean makes it worth it.

If only the waiter remembered to put the dressing on the side, then it could have been fantastic.


  1. Love it! Totally in that phase now and didn’t realize how lucky we had it when she was younger… ho hum….

Comments are closed.