I know this is a parents’ blog. I know, I am a mother. I know I adore my kids and mostly like spending time with them. And yet, I find myself silently smiling at the news of restaurants that are starting to ban children. It is not that I think children shouldn’t ever be allowed to eat out and I certainly don’t think all eating establishments should be kid-free, but I am not surprised nor offended that some places have instituted a no-kid policy.
There are certain nights, rare as they are, where my husband and I have the supreme pleasure of dining on our own like the civilized adults we used to be. We never go to eat at a place where we’d take our kids. We specifically look for restaurants that we deem “adult.” On these nights, there is nothing worse than sitting down next to a table with kids. Now, lest you think I’m heartless, if they’re well-behaved usually I can just smile at the cuteness and ignore them for the rest of my evening. But on those occasions where that isn’t possible, a kid can wreck a meal. The kid who throws his food? I’ve had enough of that during my own kitchen-highchair days, thanks. The kid who screams when she doesn’t get what she wants? She is too young for a nice dinner. How about the “cute” singing that is the loudest sound in the room? Please. Make. It. Stop.
Typically, most of these children aren’t really doing anything wrong. They are acting like kids. But they may have parents who are too beleaguered, tired or stressed to have properly planned and now they don’t even notice or maybe don’t care that kids acting like kids might not be appropriate for a dining room. In some extreme circumstances, kids are just permitted to act like brats and no one does anything about it. That may seem harsh. But I know you’ve seen them, running through a restaurant near you. I suspect these are just the instances, the kids running or banging forks on plates or the guy who tried to steal my fork once at a work lunch (yes, that happened!), that got kids banned to begin with.
I may not have room to speak on this issue as I am the one who goes to the other extreme. When I’m out in public with my family I definitely institute an old-fashioned kids should be seen not heard policy. When they were smaller and we ventured out, I always brought a bag of supplies to keep them busy and quiet at the table. Now that they’re a bit older, we engage them in conversation. We are out on a family dinner, not a couple’s dinner with baggage. I can even be found on the floor after the meal, picking up spilled food or tossed Cheerios. Most important though, we practice table manners in our own kitchen so they aren’t so out of their element when asked to behave in a restaurant table (or more likely booth). I’m the chef around here and I deserve as much respect as any body with a white coat and floppy hat.
We have realistic expectations for dinners out with kids and they never include taking them to a fancy restaurant. My kids aren’t perfect, but I’m hoping I’ve set them up well with realistic expectations and reasonable requests not to ruin a meal for anyone else. I’m not saying there aren’t kids who could handle linen napkins and four courses. Heck, maybe even mine could. I’m just saying a few bad apples have spoiled that bunch and I’m not surprised nor too upset about it either. There are plenty of kid-friendly places for nights when were together and now, we have some sure fire places to try when it’s adults only.
*In case you’re wondering, I think planes are an entirely different story. I’d be pissed if I could afford first class and someone told me I couldn’t bring my baby. That is not cool.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Cristie Ritz King, a New Jersey mom.