This afternoon my husband and I went to one of our favorite local Chinese buffets. I've written before about eating there, and it has been a comfort-zone for our family for a long time. Today however, I was put on edge, annoyed, and find myself wondering if I will ever go back there again. I probably won't.
Why has my attitude changed so suddenly? Was it a bad review? Bad food? Bad atmosphere? No, it was none of those things. It was a nosy waitress that became a busybody and then some.
My daughter is a little over four months old now. Since she's been about three months old she's been doing little sit-ups in her bouncy seats, and she can sit unassisted now. My son couldn't do that until he was seven months, but she is just a ball of chubby baby with muscles underneath. We quickly found out that she absolutely hates laying on her back for more than a few minutes, and she prefers to sit up as often as possible. Being in her car-seat causes endless screaming, especially when we are at a restaurant and she has to sit there strapped in and going nowhere. Because she screams so much in her car-seat, I've started sticking her in a high chair when we go out to dinner. I always wrap her mini-comforter around her for stability and cushioning, and we've had wonderfully peaceful meals ever since.
So today when the waitress approached us for our drink orders, I was putting the baby into the high chair (as usual) when the woman asked how old the baby was. I smiled, thinking she was just making polite conversation and responded with my little one's age.
"Oh!" the waitress said, "She's too little for a high chair."
I shot my husband a confused expression, my mouth open to speak but no words coming out. What do you say to someone when they have a random opinion like that? Before I could say something to the effect of, "Oh, we do this all the time, the blanket makes her more than stable, she can sit up by herself already... etc, etc...", she actually reached across me and unbuckled my baby. What could I do but pick my poor child up as the woman took the high chair and began to leave?
To make her astoundingly rude actions even worse, she continued to "advise" me on how to take care of my own child. "You have to wait until she is at least six month," she told me, "Babies can't sit on her own until six month. After six month, then high chair is okay."
My mouth was hanging open, speechless, but I assure you that there were hundreds of retorts running through my brain. I thought of horribly rude comebacks ranging anywhere from... well I can't even write it here because it is all just too mean of me to write, and I'm sure it would come back to bite me in the butt later. I was furious, and that is an understatement. I was too angry to eat, and I couldn't have anyways, considering that I had to hold our darling daughter for the rest of the meal. The only other option was to stick her back in the car-seat and let her screech for an hour, which is obviously not something I was going to do. I would like to point out that my daughter was sitting on my lap, unassisted, because she can sit up on her own. Too bad my mother-knowledge counts for zero against the wise, wise wisdom of a random stranger who has never met my child.
I told my husband that he had better take care of the check himself so that I didn't do something stupid in my anger. I had an idea to write a big fat ZERO in for the tip, along with a note to the effect of "I'm sure you don't need a tip since you make good money at your parenting-expert job". But again, as relieving as it may have been at the time, I've never shorted anyone on tip before, and I prefer to make my complaints after I have calmed down. Somehow though, this incident angers me far more than any other disgruntling restaurant experience I've had, and my annoyance at it is lingering.
What could they even do to make amends for being offended by random advice though? This is one of those things that can't be "made right" by a manager giving me a free meal or apologizing for the service. This goes into that dangerous I-am-mom-protector-of-my-own territory. It makes me wonder if the young woman even has children - most mothers are strongly aware of the no-no's of handing out offending advice to other mothers. This goes even beyond that. This is the first time I've ever seen anyone go so far as to touch someone's child and force the advice on them. How dare she? I am still just so furious about it.
So what do I do? What would some of you have done in this same situation? Is there any cure for insert-foot-in-mouth advice-givers?