Courtney Pedigo was looking forward to a nice dinner with family and friends at an Olive Garden in North Carolina, but her 18-month-old daughter had other plans.
Little Harlynn Pedigo did not want to sit in her high chair. She wanted to run around Monday night in the Greensboro restaurant.
“She was just trying to wiggle her way down my body, and I couldn’t do anything else,” Courtney said.
Courtney tried occupying Harlynn with movies on her phone and other activities, but it wasn’t working.
“She’s just a toddler. She wants to get down and run around,” the mom told CNN.
Harlynn was squirming so much that Courtney decided to ask for a carryout box so they could wait in the car until everyone else had finished eating.
“I was just so overwhelmed and flustered at that point,” she said.
But, waitress Nianni Rudder was not having that. She told Courtney that Harlynn wasn’t bothering anyone.
“She flat-out said, ‘No, I want you to sit down with your family, and I want you to eat your dinner. Enjoy your dinner, and I’m going to go, and occupy her and play with her,'” Courtney said.
Rudder brought a bowl of ice cream with caramel sauce and fed Harlyn while the girl sat in her mother’s lap. It worked.
“I ACTUALLY GOT TO EAT MY FOOD WHILE IT WAS STILL HOTT!!!!!” Courtney wrote in a Facebook post celebrating Rudder’s kind act. (Her all-caps typing and five exclamation points show how rare the experience can be for new parents.)
Courtney said she was worried Rudder might get in trouble for sitting with them but the server said it was no problem.
Rudder ended up sitting with Courtney’s family for about 20 minutes.
“I just thought that was pretty awesome of her,” Courtney said. “She didn’t have to do that.”
Courtney took a picture of Rudder with her daughter and asked if she could post it on Facebook because she wanted people to know how great she had been.
Rudder told WGHP she hopes she would get the same treatment if she had a restless child.
“She’s a kid. They cry. They fuss. They want to run around. There’s no reason for you to have to go home because she’s being fussy,” Rudder said. “She’s a baby. That’s what babies do.”
Courtney said she got a call from someone at an Olive Garden corporate office who told her they were giving Rudder a silver star for her exceptional service.