A friend and I got into a spirited discussion the other day regarding children and restaurants.
To be specific, it was about loud, ill-mannered children in restaurants.
I remember once going out to supper with my father to a very nice Chinese restaurant. The moment the hostess came to greet us, my father loudly said: “Please seat us somewhere quiet.”
And, just in case she didn’t get the hint, he followed up with, “I mean away from kids — as far away as possible.”
My father didn’t exactly use his quiet-we-are-indoors voice either.
To say I was horrified would be an understatement. All you had to do was look at me to know that I was totally mortified.
After we were seated, my father got this self-satisfied smirk on his face as he explained that the request was typical of any restaurant at which he dined.
Of course, being only a few years removed from those type of motherhood years, I argued the point telling him that nowadays children have a right to dine there the same as he does.
I also didn’t mind getting in a dig and reminding him that the days of children-are-to-be-seen-and-not-heard were over, that we now lived in a generation where children were included, not excluded.
Ultimately we agreed to disagree.
Mom and dad were good about taking us children out to dinner. They didn’t do it often as there just wasn’t enough money to do so. But they did ensure that we had enough restaurant experience so when we were older and went out we knew enough about dining out, manners and etiquette to not embarrass ourselves.
In fact, when we did go out, we were watched with eagle eyes and should one of us fail to use proper etiquette or manners, we were swiftly reminded.
I give my folks credit for that as I have never once been ashamed of not knowing which fork to use, how to properly handle my utensils and how to generally comport myself while dining out.
Now life has come full circle.
While I don’t request special seating at a restaurant, I do find myself becoming easily irritated when a child is loud and misbehaving. While I realize it isn’t all about me, I do wonder why some parents choose to bring a tired, grumpy and hungry child into a restaurant.
Why not nap your child beforehand, if at all possible, and why not plan on slow service and bring a small snack to tide your child over? If your child is grumpy, perhaps it’s better to find a babysitter or, failing that, plan for supper out another night when your child is in a better mood.
I never could understand the lack of planning, just as I never could understand parents who are oblivious to the racket their children are making and the havoc they wreak as they are allowed to run the restaurant.
It’s not that I think children should be perfect little robots; I do understand that kids are kids and as such they do make noise and they do misbehave.
But isn’t the onus on the fellow diner to not let their life spill over onto other diners?
My friend argues that if it becomes an issue, the annoyed diner should relocate their seat.
I argue that the parent(s) should give other diners a break and do whatever they can to quiet their child.
Mind you, if we are Playland at McDonalds, that’s a whole different story.
Is it a bad thing to simply want to enjoy a dinner out in peace?
What are your thoughts?