First, happy birthday! And I'm sorry that happened on your birthday, of all days! (Just remember: in ten years, you'll be able to tell this story and embarrass the heck of your daughter. Delayed present, for sure.) One of the best things my mom did for me and my brother was when I was around 4 or 5 years old, and my brother 3 or 4. She had taken us to McDonald's for lunch. We had just bought our hamburgers and fries and toys and had sat down to eat them - and my brother and I were behaving like horrible little snotty-nosed brats. (I remember we were arguing, but I can't remember what about.) Anyway, I'm sure my mother warned us, and I'm sure we didn't listen, because no sooner had we unwrapped food, but she decided we were behaving too badly to remain at the restaurant, so she picked us both up, and took us out to the car and home - LEAVING THE MCDONALD'S FOOD AND TOYS BEHIND. Let me repeat that: WE DID NOT GET TO EAT. WE DID NOT GET TO PLAY. In fact, I'm not all that sure she even gave us lunch when we got home. That stuck with us both, for a very, very, very long time. And we NEVER misbehaved in public again. (Okay, probably a stretch. But sure as hell we didn't do it when we were about to get a treat like McDonalds!) Now, granted, it would have absolutely sucked to up and leave the restaurant in the middle of your birthday celebration. I don't blame you one whit for not doing it (I wouldn't have wanted to, either). But I do think it's worth it to take five minutes to pull her out, wait for her to calm down outside of the restaurant, and then talk to her and explain in language that she can understand that it's MOMMY'S birthday, not hers, and that she'll get a piece of cake too, but Mommy gets to blow out the candle, and if she's very good, Mommy will let her help. At 2-1/2, she doesn't have a lot of experience with birthdays (not ones she can remember, anyway). So yeah, it's entirely possible that to her, birthdays ARE all about her, and no one else gets them. It's not too early to teach her (a) everyone has birthdays and (b) there are consequences to misbehaving in public. And yeah, if you bite the $20 for McDonalds lunch, it's going to be SO worth it - and this is the kid, now grown up, saying it. Every so often, I call my mother and thank her for taking us out of that restaurant. In fact, I think I'm going to do it again now.