CNN published an editorial yesterday–Permissive parents: curb your brats— that is getting mixed reviews. I agree with some of the commentary (i.e. there are kid-free cruises and resorts for a reason) but the overall tone that children should be spanked, seen and not heard, and not tolerated in restaurants, airplanes, and grocery stores turns me off a bit. I understand he’s mostly referencing “unruly” children, but doesn’t every child act like Charlie Sheen every now and again? Since having a baby I’ve become more sympathetic to other parents and I wish I had done it sooner.
The notion that children are “mini” adults and should behave as such is downright bonkers. One of my favorite new-mama questions is, “Is he sleeping through the night?” To which my response is, “No. he isn’t. He’s also not cooking or balancing my checkbook yet, the little slacker!” And it totally irks me when fellow passengers comment on how adorable my baby is AT THE END of an episode-free flight. They are babies/toddlers/children and should be welcomed and celebrated as such.
Likewise, we as parents shouldn’t be discouraged from leaving the house for fear our child might act up and g-d forbid, disturb someone’s tranquil life. There are days when my son is tearing through the house like a screaming banshee and all I can think about is where I can take him to offer a change in scenery (and adult interaction or a alcoholic caffeinated beverage)
The night we moved to Pittsburgh we were exhausted and desperate for a bite to eat. With our tired 3-month-old in tow, we walked over to a local grill well known for its salads and burgers. Upon entering, a gentleman in a tie welcomed us told us that strollers were NOT ALLOWED. We understood the restaurant was small so we folded it up and put it under the coat rack. He was obviously disappointed we didn’t leave and reluctantly let us stow our baby carrier. He showed us to a table mumbling something about not having a high chair. By this time our infant was swaddled and sleeping in my arms. Does that sound like a child who needs a high chair? The man begrudgingly sat us next to tables of well-groomed couples sipping wine and picking at appetizers while they chatted about politics or weather. The kinds of people we were merely three months prior. We ate and apologized when our son fussed and left feeling rushed and annoyed. Needless to say, we won’t be going back.
Recently, we tried out a new tex-mex place in town. We were given a quiet table upstairs with a high chair and our toddler was handed an etch-a-sketch, much to his delight. I nursed him in the booth and the sweet waitress waited until I was done to take my order and then smiled and said, “Can I bring anything for him or did he already eat?” The food was wonderful, our son played happily with his toy, and most importantly, we felt welcomed.
There is a small farm-to-table restaurant in Asheville, NC that we visited on vacation. The tables are equipped with paper and crayons and each child is given a bucket full of eco-friendly toys to play with during the meal. The food is amazing but the hospitality towards my son was most appreciated. When we checked into our hotel they asked us if we needed a safety kit which included some first aid things and plug covers (adorned with the hotel’s logo just in case you decide to take them home. MARKETING GENIOUS!) Needless to say, I was impressed.
Being parents has changed us as patrons. We are respectful of people who want to enjoy a meal without hearing a kid cry, which is why we try to dine early with the rest of the breeders and AARP card holders. But I want to spend my money in places that respect that I have a child and that, yes, he’ll be joining us and he might just happen to cry or drop half-chewed food on the floor. You don’t have to have a germ-laden kiddie gym in the middle of your establishment to win me over–just don’t act horrified at the sight of my toddler. For the most part, his behavior is pleasantly age-appropriate and my husband and I have a very low threshold for misbehavior and no qualms about taking our food to-go. However, if you are going to glare at us with your judgmental stink eye before my child even opens his mouth–you might just get a ketchup-laden french fry thrown in your direction and it may or may not have come from our kid.
Has having a child changed where you choose to eat and shop?