Feb 27, 2012  •  In Aerin, Baby, Claire, Parenting, Personal

Hibachi FAIL

Yesterday, J suggested that we take both girls and — with the help of his parents — go have lunch at a Hibachi Steakhouse.

Before I go on, I should state that I do not particularly like taking my kids to “adult” places. If the locale is specifically marketed as a family-friendly establishment? Sure, let’s go for it! But otherwise, I am a firm believer that most patrons of restaurants, theaters, and such pay the markup for the experience, and have the right to get annoyed when children are ill-behaved, or when babies won’t stop crying.

(And although I am a mother myself, I personally would pay more for a child-free cabin if I were flying without my kids.)

But this time around, I honestly believed that Claire would be fascinated by the Hibachi style of cooking, just as she had loved the Liberty Science Center. As for Aerin? We figured that we could time it so that lunch could coincide with a nap, and that she could be peacefully sleeping in her carseat on an adjacent chair while the rest of the family were dined and entertained by a Hibachi chef.

As soon as the chef arrived and performed his first showy act — a hissing river of steam angrily rising from the stove — we realized we had made a big mistake.

Because Claire started BAWLING.

Not just tears and sobs. Hysterical, red-faced WAILING with tears streaming down her face.

J’s father immediately scooped her up from the high chair and embraced her in a hug while we all pitched in to help calm her down. We tried distracting her, as well as clapping and excitedly saying “Yay!!!” whenever the chef performed a new act. But no dice. Claire seemed to only grow more and more terrified of the scary Hibachi man and his bag of tricks. Eventually, J and his father had to take turns walking her around to other parts of the restaurant because every time that they attempted to return her to the table, she would start crying again.

I felt horrible for the chef and the nice old ladies who shared the table with us. HORRIBLE. I couldn’t apologize enough.

(I also couldn’t help but look on to a nearby table with envy, because a little boy who seemed a few months younger than Claire sat in his high chair, laughing and clapping and simply enthralled by the Hibachi cooking.)

As for Aerin? She decided that she didn’t want to nap at all and started crying too. I barely got to eat my food because I had to bounce her while pacing in order to keep her quiet.

However, I’m happy to report that the outing wasn’t a complete bust. After the chef left the table, we tried one last time to return Claire to the table and she started crying again. But right then, our waitress served us dessert — ice cream! — and once Claire had a spoonful, she immediately shut up.

This was Claire’s very first time having ice cream, and it was clear that the girl loved it. We gave her four flavors to try: chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, and green tea. And soon, it also became apparent that she had a favorite flavor: chocolate!

Claire loved the ice cream so much that she began to dance along to the music playing at the restaurant and J caught a bit via his phone:

Isn’t it funny how we don’t teach babies to dance and they all still move their bodies along to music? Whenever Claire starts shaking her little booty even just a bit, I can’t help but think back to this video from when she was 11 months old:

J and I think that the scary Hibachi chef continued to linger on Claire’s mind, because she randomly cried out in her sleep throughout the night. :-(  Next time, we’ll be sure to remember that our firstborn is an overly shy, cautious little girl who tends to scare easily. 

9 Responses to “Hibachi FAIL”

  1. Poor Claire.. but stop beating yourselves up over it. You couldn’t have predicted that, and you wanted to give them a new and exciting experience!

    I would have probably cried as a kid too, but now I love the hibachi grill :P

  2. Oh poor Claire (and poor parents, that sounds so stressful). I’m glad she revived for ice cream. My daughter doesn’t really like it; she prefers mango pudding (maybe it’s too cold?).

    I don’t agree with you about not bringing children out to eat, though. Of course if they cry or are disruptive you should take them out immediately. But I think that if they are used to eating out, for the most part they will behave.

    In Singapore where I live it’s really common to bring children out everywhere, even to expensive restaurants, and they are in general very well behaved. My daughter is 12 months and we eat out at least 4 times/week; she is perfectly capable of sitting through a meal quietly (most of the time of course! nothing is certain with small children). That isn’t because she’s super awesome or anything; she’s just used to dining out. If you still feel up to it, I am sure Claire will improve with experience!

    • Perhaps it’s where we live that makes the difference? Or, at least the places that I visit when I am out without my kids, because those places are rarely visited by families with young children and when they do, other patrons would often roll their eyes at the sight of the kids/babies as if to say, “Oh here we go again.”

      We actually do take Claire out to dine out often (or at least my in-laws do) but we stick to family-friendly establishments like dim sum. But even then, it’s a crapshoot because she will only behave about half of the time. (The other half, someone has to carry her around to other areas of the restaurant or outside.) Claire has always been very sensitive to her surroundings and can’t nap in places she’s not comfortable in (she gets this from me), so if we take her out often or for too long she will become a mess by the end of the day. I think you’re very lucky that you’re able to take your daughter everywhere. :-)

      • I know what you mean about the culture issue. We used to live in San Francisco and while we ate out a lot with her there too it was always a lot more stressful, because everyone upon spying the baby would shoot looks of doom (“That baby is going to MAKE NOISE”), even when she was obviously sleeping. In Singapore everyone loooves babies. Her behavior was pretty similar in both places though.

        I relate about the naps too. My daughter is still on 2/day, and now can’t sleep anywhere but her crib. Basically I am house-bound except from 9:30-11, 1-3, and 5-8. (Deviations are swiftly punished.) I am really looking forward to the day when she switches to just one/day!

  3. I’m not really for kid-free places (there are some exceptions like the theater and really expensive restaurants) but I hate it when I walk into somewhere with my kids and people automatically ASSUME they’re going to be little horrors. I think there has only been once in my four-years-old life that he’s been a disruption in a restaurant. We don’t live in a kid-free society and shouldn’t treat parents like second-class citizens.

  4. Awww, poor baby! Definitely not something you could have controlled, though – I think it’s great that you tried it out with her!

  5. Doesn’t ice cream make every girl want to dance? :) Glad the story had a happy ending for you guys!

  6. Poor Claire!!!! I do have to say, it’s absolutely adorable watching her eat that ice cream. hehe

  7. Rachel:

    Claire is in good company – my niece, Amelia (age 2), did the same thing at our local hibachi steakhouse. The chef started his tricks off with the onion volcano, and the fire (and heat) made her cover her face and wail. Glad the ice cream provided a good distraction. :)

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