Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No Kids Allowed

A few days ago I linked to this video story featured on the Today Show.  Go ahead, watch the video.  I'll wait here.  (By the way, are you following me on Twitter?  Why the heck not?  I'm @mamanash, of course.)

In case you didn't watch the video, the basic gist is that a Pennsylvania restaurant has decided to ban children under the age six from dining there.  The restaurant owner says the decision came after many patron complaints.

I've been wanting to write about this story for a while now but my head is conflicted.

On the one hand I am not the type of person who makes a habit out of bringing my children to fine dining establishments.  I don't think they are old enough to appreciate a $15/plate dinner and they're usually in bed around the time I would set a reservation for these higher end establishments.

Only a handful of times have we ever brought the kids to an upscale restaurant and, to be honest, it went beautifully.  I remember on one occasion dining out for Brian's birthday at our favorite downtown restaurant with William when he was around 2-years-old.  He was so much fun that we got compliments from the wait staff and others seated near by.  (I say fun because he didn't sit there like a silent obedient statue.  He spoke and ate and did all the things adults do.  But he wasn't a crying, hysterical mess either.)

We've actually found that our kids are more well-behaved at any restaurant than they are on any given Sunday at church.  Can I get an amen on this from other parents?

And let's be honest here.  There's really no badly-behaved child.  Only inconsiderate parents.  Right?  Every time one of my kids acts up out in public it's usually on me.  I'm the one who's kept them out past their nap, too close to lunch or until they are bored to tears.  And if it isn't one of those reasons it usually means I haven't done a good enough job at setting up expectations or teaching self-discipline.  I say this with the utmost humility as I am currently the parent to a tantrum-prone two-year-old daughter.

Don't get me wrong, I do think there's room for adult only events and places.  I, for one, have never brought one of my children to a wedding.  Not because I think they would be dreadful there but because I want to converse with friends and family I haven't seen in some time without worrying about where my child is.  And they usually have more fun with a sitter anyway.  (My kids LOVE babysitters.)

I also enjoy the occasional night out with my husband.  We talk for hours without disruption and it brings back blissful memories from our dating and pre-children years.  BUT, and here is why my head is conflicted, I have never, ever been offended if the party sitting next us has a child with them.  Even if that child is being disruptive.

And I think that's what gets me about this story.  The tone is all off.  You see signs banning cigarettes and hand guns from restaurants.  But children?  That likens them to some sort of a toxin or danger.  One woman interviewed in the tape even said she felt assaulted by disruptive children in restaurants.  Assaulted?!

What has happened to our society that children have become second-class citizens?  And I mean that quite literally.  On Mesaba airlines children are now banned from first class.

There can't be hope for our future if children are reduced to merely an accessory that some people choose to have and others not.

There can't be hope for our future if children are treated in pre-Civil Rights Act ways when you wouldn't be hard-pressed to find someone feeling assaulted because they had to dine next to a black/gay/Muslim person.  (And maybe that still happens today.  But I like to live in my naive rainbows and unicorns world and hope that it doesn't.)

Somehow we've forgotten children are little people too.  Somehow we've forgotten that we were all children at one time.  And what a sad place this would be if it became child-segregated.

Certainly this restaurant owner can make his own rules as it is a privately-owned establishment.  And certainly I would advocate for parents using discretion when bringing their children with them anywhere.

But somehow the whole nature of the story leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  And maybe even a little concerned about where we're headed as a society.

Tell me what you think.  Am I way off base?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © Mama Nash | Custom Blog Design by Lilipop Designs