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Waitress pitches in to help with fussy toddler so mother can eat in peace

It's a scenario many moms can relate to: you're out to dinner and your fussy toddler just won't sit still. That's what happened to a mom from Greensboro, North Carolina, who said she felt defeated when her toddler started fussing at Olive Garden. The mom is now praising a kind waitress named Nianni Rudder, who stepped in to help so she could enjoy her meal.

Courtney Ruth Pedigo was out to dinner with her dad, stepmother and 18-month-old daughter Harlynn earlier this week when the toddler started getting restless. "Just like any toddler, she didn't want to be held ... it was just a constant battle to try to get her to chill out and I didn't want to bother anybody trying to eat dinner," Pedigo told CBS News.

"I just got flustered at one point and went and found Nianni and I said, 'Can you just box my food up to go?'" Pedigo said. 

The waitress denied the mom a to-go box. "No, she's not bothering anybody. You're going to go over there, you're going to enjoy your dinner with your family, and I'm going to be over there in a second," Rudder said, according to Pedigo. 

Pedigo said she was ready to take her daughter and her food and go eat in the car, but she listened to Rudder and went back to the table. Moments later, the waitress showed up with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce for Harlynn.

"She sat there and was feeding her ice cream and wiping her mouth and her hands — because of course Harlynn was digging into the bowl. She was awesome," the grateful mom said about Rudder.

Tonight my family and I went out to Olive Garden for dinner, and per Harlynn’s usual she did everything but sit in her...

Posted by Courtney Ruth Pedigo on Monday, October 1, 2018

Rudder spoke with the family while she helped with Harlynn. She's not a mom herself, but she has a niece Harlynn's age, so she knows how to deal with toddlers. Rudder also opened up about other personal things in her life, Pedigo said.

"She said some really sentimental things about her life," Pedigo said. "She was talking a little bit about herself ... The things she was saying was just heartwarming." Rudder opened up about her mother, who passed away two years ago. She told the family that she works as a waitress while going to school full-time to become an anesthesiologist. "That's part of why I admire her so much," Pedigo said. 

"I would close myself in a dark room if I lost my mom. I wouldn't want to go to school or work or anything," Pedigo said. 

The mother was compelled to share the heartwarming story about the kind waitress on Facebook. Pedigo publicly praised Rudder's strength in a lengthy post. "You never know what people are going through," Pedigo told CBS News. "She's just such a strong person ... that's why I did a post about her. I wanted to shine a light on Nianni."

In the post, Pedigo writes "Girl, you will never truly know how appreciative I am for tonight."

"I know your Mom is looking down from Heaven with the BIGGEST smile and so incredibly proud of the woman you are. I aspire to be the go getter you are," Pedigo wrote in the now-viral Facebook post.

The grateful mom got to eat dinner with her family without worrying about her daughter first. "When I say that I appreciate her, it's so much more than calming me down and just reassuring me and just being there for me," Pedigo said. "Nianni did this out of the kindness of her heart."

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