I read a blog post a week ago about children in restaurants – more specifically about a restaurant that doesn’t allow children under the age of 13. Effectively the post was a “how dare anyone tell me where I can’t bring my child.”
I never quite know how to answer these things. I always feel like I should start any discussion about this saying “I like kids.” Mostly I feel this way because I am trying to avoid the appearance of being someone who doesn’t like children and doesn’t ever want to see them.
The problem is, however much I like kids, I’m not a parent, and so it’s easier to assume that I don’t like kids.
I like kids. I don’t think they belong everywhere.
There – I have said it. I think there are times and places that children don’t belong. I don’t think they belong at the theater or the symphony. I don’t think they belong at expensive restaurants. I don’t think they belong at the movies at 10 at night. I don’t think they belong in high end china stores.
I guess I should preface this – I don’t think toddlers belong at those places. I’m sorry, but I just don’t. I would have kept silent, but I was at the local theater website and they have a note at the bottom of the page that babes in arms or children not being permitted into the theater. At the least, this tells me it has been an issue.
The problem is, of course, not the children. I doubt it ever was. A three year old is just a three year old. The problem is the parents and the location.
Let me put it another way – I don’t mind at my local, a casual sort of place, when there is a child. I don’t mind when they are very unhappy. Every child has moments of unhappiness. Moments when they are unable to regulate their emotions because they are a child and part of the work of childhood is learning to do this so that you can do it when you are an adult.
I do mind – at least a bit – the parents who let their kids scream for 10 minutes, run around the restaurant where people are trying to eat and servers are carrying hot food, and disturb everyone else’s meal. People come along and they say “well, why should their meal be disrupted because their kid is having a bad day?”
Well. Because you are a parent. That’s part of what you signed up for.
So, thinking back to the restaurant that banned children. We go there when we want a quiet meal. I suspect a lot of people do, and I suspect a great many of them are parents.
I was going to disagree with you about the theater and the symphony, but then you specified toddlers. I took my kindergartener to see Wicked, and she was quite well-behaved and it was a matinee and we would have left if she had acted up. And I have taken her to a Christmas program at the Symphony, at night, where she was fidgety (so I apologized to the poor men who were sitting behind her – they were very gracious and one said that his parents had taken him to the symphony when he was her age and exposure was a good thing). I think that some people are so self-absorbed that they don’t much care if others are disturbed by their actions or those of their children.
I totally agree with you
And i’m a parent to a living child (and a deceased child – reason I found your blog)
I agree too! And I have two. I don’t take them places where their misbehaviour will be a lot of annoyance to others, so I’ve eaten in a *lot* of family restaurants over the last many years and I’m dying for a well cooked meal but as you say: I signed up for this.
When they are older I can take them to those sorts of places. But until then we stick to places where children and their behaviour are ok.
I agree and I disagree.
I took my 6 year old, and his best friend (and her mother) to go see Lion King. It was a matinee. And the kids were excellent for kids. There were a couple of times where they literally jumped up in awe, and quickly self ssshh’ed themselves when they realized they were breaking the rules. We took our at the time 6 year old to Once (story line questionable- but the music, he just adores the music and dance). He was entranced and did not speak the entire performance. Now the man who was loudly snoring behind me, several people around us commented how they could have dealt without him but my child was an enjoyable person to sit around. I would never do it for an evening performance of say Kinky Boots. Our local orchestra has designated ‘Family’ performances (aim is for the 7-14 age group). I’ve taken my boys since they were toddlers. Would I bring them to a ‘typical’ performance? Nope (but likely will before the age of 13, as my one has been playing violin since age 4 and loves that kind of thing)
As for ‘adult’ restaurants, I wouldn’t do it as a toddler or preschooler. Prior to having kids, I would have said no to newborns as well. That said, I did bring a little baby. At the time I was guardian for a family member. She unexpectedly passed away. It was set up in her will where the meal afterwards was to be held. A ‘no children’ restaurant. As I went about the logistics of the day, the baby had to come with me. (At that point I was the only food source.) My grand plan was if he were to cry, I was going to go to my car and wait there to pay the bill. He slept in his carrier under the table, or was in my arms nursing. Several people (both restaurant employees and members of the group) were surprised to see me with the carrier leaving… they had no idea that he had been there (we were there for close to 2 hours).
So yes, and no. There is a place for children. And a place for children to not be. There is also a place for snoring. And a place to be loud drunks. (I’ve come across plenty of those in theater and restaurants that I’ve wanted to kick out as well)
You are a parent. You are the mother of Gabriel. You parent your wonderful array of nieces and nephews and their partners. Don’t ever underestimate the parent in you!