Follow TV Tropes


Dreaded Kids' Table

Go To
Guess who dreads this table the most.

"It's not right. My five older sisters get to sit at the grownup table with Mom and Dad, while I'm stuck here with my five younger sisters."
Lincoln Loud, The Loud House, "A Tale of Two Tables"

Most people buy furniture that is appropriate for their day-to-day needs. This can mean that they are unsuitable for special occasions. For example, a dining room table that is of adequate size for a family of four can be quite small for an extended family gathering, which can have a dozen or more people showing up for dinner. Since most people can't afford the expense or the space to have a table large enough for twelve when outside of a handful of times a year only four people are using it, alternative seating arrangements must be found for the guests. A common solution (at least before the advent of tables with removable inserts) is to bring out a second table (often a fold-out card table that can be left in storage when not needed) and have a subgroup of the gathering eat there. This is often referred to as the "kids' table", as a typical way of determining who eats where is to have the younger diners sit at one table and the older diners sit at the other. One extra benefit of this is that the adults can have dinnertime conversation on topics the kids would not be interested in (and vice versa).

This trope occurs when a big meal is being held (often Thanksgiving) and an older child (usually 10-16) is made to sit at the "kids' table" instead of with the adults, despite insisting that they are old enough for the latter. Bitterness and envy will ensue, especially if a slightly older peer is sitting with the adults. If they eventually do get their wish, you can expect an Aesop about how it really is better to not try to grow up too fast or something of the like.

Occasionally, the person exiled to the kids' table is an adult. Sometimes for stirring up controversy by bringing up politics or religion, other times for being single and/or childless (either by chance or by choice) in a culture that views only married adults with children as "real" adults.

An occasional amusing inversion is the kids taking the usual table and the adults getting banished to the smaller table on the grounds that the kids outnumber the grownups and need the extra space.

See Age-Appropriate Angst and Bittersweet 17. Frequently a sub-trope to Crappy Holidays. Often a source of Wangst. Also Truth in Television.


    open/close all folders 

  • The 2022 Tesco Christmas advert is a spoof party political broadcast for "The Christmas Party", which at one point declares "We're bringing adults' and kids' tables together!" over a shot of a full-sized and lower table pushed next to each other, with a bewildered man sitting at the lower one and a delighted little girl at the higher one.

    Comic Strips 
  • This political cartoon shows Pluto being frustrated from having to sit at the "little planets" table.
  • One The Family Circus strip shows the family at Thel's parents' house, and Billy unhappy about being at the children's table. The Comics Curmudgeon interpreted it as a psychodrama involving a battle of wills between Bil Senior and Junior.
  • For Better or for Worse: The final Christmas strip has April being sent to the kitchen to eat with Meredith, Robin, and Francoise despite her nearly being an adult.
  • One early Frazz strip showed the titular character sitting at the kids' table during Thanksgiving, with the implication that he was put there to entertain the kids.
  • Inverted in the Thanksgiving 2022 Sally Forth (Howard) strip. With Sally's sister and mother already at full-out war, and Sally trying to play peacemaker and just getting it from both of them, teenaged Hil decides she'd rather join her young cousin Bettina at the kids' table. She'd not even sure if there is an official kids' table, or if Bettina just wandered over to the coffee table on her own, and she doesn't care.

  • The Black Sheep Dog Series: Inverted by Lucretia Black, who resents having to remain in the parlour with the rest of the elderly member of the family after Christmas dinner, while the younger members are chucked out of the formal celebrations to do whatever they please.
    Lucretia missed the days when she could have counted herself among the young family members who were all unceremoniously cast out into the night at about eleven o'clock.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 16 Wishes: One of Abby's wishes is to be treated like an adult, which she decides upon during a Thanksgiving dinner at which, although her rival of the exact same age was at the adult table, she is stuck eating with the little kids who torment her.
  • In Four Brothers the gangster's attorney is forced to sit at the children's table as a punishment. He accepts it, considering the alternative is a bullet.
  • Ghost Note: Forget not wanting to sit at the kids' table, Mallory doesn't want to go to the Thanksgiving Dinner PERIOD because she has to sit there every year.

  • In one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, Greg and Rodrick, who are about twelve-thirteen and seventeen-eighteen respectively, complain about having to sit at the kiddie table during Easter lunch, especially since Uncle Cecil (their Great-Aunt Marcie's adopted son) gets to sit at the adult table for some reason, even though he's a toddler.
  • This happens in Fancy Nancy in one book, Our Thanksgiving Banquet, where Nancy doesn't want to sit at the kids' table because she is way more mature than the other kids at the table. When she finally persuades her parents to let her sit at the grown-up table, it becomes super boring, and she regrets her decision.
  • Dork Diaries: When Nikki and her family visit an aunt, Nikki hates it because she’s forced to sit at the kids' table with her little sister and younger relatives. She’s in middle school.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Christmas reunion special of The Brady Bunch, Cindy is seated at the kids' table due to a lack of room, even though she's in college. It highlights her character arc throughout the special, which is that they still see her as the baby of the family; as she points out to her parents, everyone else was invited to the holiday gathering, but she was literally told to come. She does get an apology and an invitation to the adult table after she brings this up.
  • The Cosby Show episode "Cliff's Wet Adventure" has Vanessa briefly complain about being stuck at the kids' table for Thanksgiving along younger sister Rudy and toddler cousin Olivia.
  • Friends: At Chandler and Monica's wedding Ross tries to rearrange his seat to sit next to Mona but he misreads her place card and ends up at the kid's table. In the extended cut of the episode he admits to his son, who's also at the kid's table, that the little girl whose seat he took won't swap back.
  • Last Man Standing: Eve didn’t want to get stuck at the kids' table with Boyd.
  • In the Thanksgiving Episode of the short-lived '90s adaptation of Parenthood, the oldest kid at the kid's table starts calculating how many adults (figuring from the oldest adult down) have to die before each child gets moved to the adult table (it's Played for Laughs).
  • Quantum Leap: In "Camikazi Kid", having leaped into a 16-year-old boy named Cameron Wilson, Sam is humiliated at having to sit at the kids' table during the rehearsal dinner for Cameron's sister Cheryl's wedding.
  • Sabrina the Teenage Witch: In the season 1 episode A Halloween Story, Sabrina complains about having to sit at the kiddy table while at her family's Halloween party. Salem immediately responds he has it worse since he has to sit at the kitty table.
  • The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon: Jimmy is thankful for the kids' table because it allows him to enjoy Thanksgiving without getting dragged into a political argument with his relatives.
  • On You're the Worst Jimmy tries to bring Edgar to Becca's wedding as his plus-one, but since he's not seen to merit a plus-one, Edgar—an Iraq War vet in his thirties—has to sit at the kids' table.
  • In Young Sheldon, Meemaw and Dr. Sturgis come to the Coopers' for dinner, so Georgie and Missy have to sit at the kids' table. While Georgie hates it, Missy points out that at the kids' table, they don't have to pray and can swear.

    Video Games 
  • In Animal Crossing, a peppy villager may say while drinking a coffee at Brewster's, "That's it! My days of eating at the kiddy table are over!", followed by a declaration that she has ordered "the darkest, most bittery coffee I could find".

    Web Comics 
  • Subverted in this Thanksgiving comic from The Oatmeal. Matt actually enjoyed the kids' table and would rather go back there than listen to his adult relatives talk politics.
  • In one Rhapsodies Thanksgiving storyline, Lori, the oldest child of the Fitzpatrick family has just been moved to the adult table. In the meantime, Fran and Olive, Rowan's subordinates, have been left at the kid's table.

    Web Video 
  • This entry for the 2021 Jacksfilms 48 Hour Film Festival is a music video about how the kids' table drives the family mentally unstable during family events. Not only do the annoying kids end up there, but a college-aged girl and an adult Creepy Uncle. By the end of the video, even the mom ends up at the kids' table, and Dad is at the adults' table completely alone.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of American Dragon: Jake Long has a family reunion on the mother's side. Jake expects to be able to get to sit at the adults' table for the first time but is passed over for one of his cousins because he already got his dragon powers. Since by this time Jake has been using his powers for months, he challenges his cousin for the right to sit at the adults' table.
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode, "Turkey In a Can", fourteen-year-old Tina wants to sit at the adult table with the adults for Thanksgiving dinner, instead of at the kids' table with Gene and Louise. She even tries to act more mature, but Bob still refuses to let her eat at the adult table. When someone has been putting the turkeys in the toilet, Tina is suspected of doing so as revenge for being denied her chance to eat at the adult table. Near the end of the episode, it is revealed that the allergy medication Bob took due to being allergic to Gayle's cats made him sleepwalk and have dreams about potty-training Tina.
  • The Craig of the Creek episode "Craig And The Kids Table" is naturally all about this trope. Craig's teenage brother Bernard wants a place at the grown-ups' table during Thanksgiving as he's long since outgrown the kids' table (emotionally and especially physically). At first it looks like this year he has his chance until his older cousin Jasmine drops in unexpectedly and takes the extra seat. By the end, Bernard gets his seat at the big table, but now appreciates the times spent at the kids' table with Craig.
  • In Family Guy, Peter's Catholic step-father Francis has always hated Lois for being a Protestant. During one dinner, he made her sit at the children's table with Stewie.
    Stewie: I'm just saying, '70s boobs were different from today's... you know, it wouldn't hurt to contribute to the conversation.
  • In the Kim Possible episode "Bad Boy", Ron has to endure this at a wedding, including being bullied by his Cousin Shaun, unless he can bring a date. Awkweirdness ensues.
  • The Loud House: "A Tale of Two Tables" provides both the page quote and the page image. The episode establishes that Lincoln and his five younger sisters dine at the kids' table, while his five older sisters and parents eat at the grown-up table.note  Lincoln himself wishes he could eat at the grown-up table, considering how immature his younger sisters act. After some training with Clyde, Lincoln finally gets his wish, but soon discovers the drawbacks like different food, no jokes or songs, and no dessert. So the next day, he deliberately misbehaves to get sent back to the kids' table.
  • Inverted in an episode of Pepper Ann. After counting the seats at the adult table for a holiday, she realizes that there's one extra and assumes it means her dad will be coming. She's disappointed to find out that it isn't the case; the extra seat is for her since she's now old enough to leave the kid table.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: The episode "A Game of Flags" involves Star being annoyed at being forced to sit at the kid's table with Marco during a big meal with her parents. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Tangled: The Series: Eugene is an adult, but yet he still ends up at the (noble) kids' table, to his great displeasure. This is thanks to Cassandra being in charge of the tables' arrangement.
  • Mentioned in Voltron: Legendary Defender. Lance has a large family, and graduates from the kids' table the day he brings Allura home to meet his parents. Meanwhile, his older sister is still eating at the kids' table with her (much younger) nieces and nephews, to make room for Lance and Allura.