Another Toddler's Tantrum in Restaurant Leads to Stranger's Surprising Response

Another Toddler's Tantrum in Restaurant Leads to Stranger's Surprising Response (ABC News)

Days after a parenting debate erupted on social media about a diner owner in Maine yelling at a crying toddler, a very different scenario unfolded in North Carolina.

"What my child did was not abnormal," Melissa Wistehuff, of Raleigh, North Carolina, told ABC News. "What the other person did was abnormal. Number one, it was really awesome that somebody showed compassion. Number two, I always assume as a mom someone is judging us. When actually, those 'nasty looks' are people feeling sorry for us. Don't assume the bad in people. Just know there are good people out there."

Wistehuff, 36, and her husband were faced with a tantrum from their 2-year-old toddler Ian while eating at Sammy's Seafood House in Morehead City. Wistehuff said Ian was being particularly loud this past Monday after a long day vacationing on the coast.

"He was not happy to say the least. He is normally a very well-behaved child in a restaurant," she said. "And I guess he was just exhausted from playing on the beach all day and very hungry and he let it show."

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"Our three children had never thrown a tantrum like that," she said.

On Saturday in Maine, a diner owner yelled at another toddler for crying, followed by the mother's Facebook post, which led to millions of comments about whether the parents or the owner were in the right.

Wistehuff called her situation "a major category 5 meltdown tantrum" in a Facebook post that caught the attention of ABC's Raleigh-Durham station WTVD-TV.

Wistehuff took Ian out of his high chair and calmed him down outside.

"It was very crowded," she said to describe the restaurant. "They had a line out the door that night. When we were taking him out, it was all we could do to keep him from kicking other people."

When they rejoined her husband and two other children, ages 7 and 5, he restarted his meltdown. This time, Wistehuff's husband brought him outside while she asked for the check.

"My husband was already in the car," she said. "It was just myself and the two older children left at the table. I was so flustered trying to get out as fast as I could."

That's when the waiter told her someone had paid the $86 bill.

"The waiter said, 'Someone admired how you took care of the situation and felt bad for you.' I said, 'What? What do you mean?' Will you tell me, who?'" Wistehuff explained.

But the waiter refused.

"I felt so rotten and assumed that everyone was looking at me like I’m a terrible person. Right there the waiter told me what happened. I'm not an emotional person but I had a tear in my eye," she said.

Wistehuff said she then realized she didn't have cash to leave an additional tip on top of the gratuity that the stranger left. The table behind her told her they would leave an extra cash tip.

"Another table said, 'You handled the situation so well.' It was a restaurant full of kind people showing compassion that night," she said.

Wistehuff said she hadn't yet heard of the similar situation in the diner in Maine that became a viral social media firestorm. She said she can't say who's more in the wrong in that instance.

"If someone yelled at my child, I can’t say how I would react. There’s no right for someone to yell at another's child, but she certainly had the right to ask them to leave," she said.

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