A North Carolina restaurant made news recently for banning kids under the age of 5. According to the news report, some parents are outraged calling it #discrimination, while others support the owner’s decision. The restaurant’s website clearly indicates that no children’s menu is available, and if the photo gallery is any indication, the establishment feels pretty non-child friendly to me, with its faux-marble statues and gold-gilded artwork. And guess what? As a mom who once took my kids out to meals, I’m fine with that. Isn’t it OK that some places are kid-free zones?
While it would be neat and convenient to package this decision as a hashtag and stand up for 5-year-olds who “deserve” to dine anywhere their parents please, can we just take a moment to think this through? Would such a ban exist if all parents insisted on a certain level of decorum at restaurants with a quiet ambiance? Of course, even the strictest parent cannot control aIl aspects of a 5-year-old’s behavior. But here’s what we can control: Our behavior.
And that means cutting our nice meals short if our kids are acting out.
Recently, I attended a working lunch at a casual spot in my town, when a loud wail nearly pierced my eardrums. I discovered an adorable, but unchecked kid climbing out of a high chair, about to hit the ground. The server caught me staring, and I was afraid she was about to tell me to mind my business, but instead she leaned in and whispered that she is exasperated and fed up, and wished the manager would step in. The parents at that table were enjoying Bloody Marys while their kids ran around visiting other tables, climbing the stone walls of the outdoor patio and drawing on the pavers with chalk their parents provided. (The server was outraged about this, too–who said the kids could draw on the floor?!)
I get it. Babysitters are expensive, and parents need to get out. But do parents have the right to go out when it infringes pretty seriously on the experience of others? And sure, the more we take our kids out, the more they learn, but at what cost?