I can’t take my kids where?!

Don’t tell me that I can’t take my kids to a restaurant. But please keep this in mind: I don’t really want to take my kids to a restaurant.

I love restaurants. I love being able to choose my meal from a menu and having a nice glass of wine, cocktail or just cold, fizzy water. Eating at a restaurant is a big treat for me. I enjoy it.

Personally I don’t give a flying fark if I’m at a restaurant and there is a child there when he “shouldn’t” be. I don’t care one bit. I don’t have to take care of him. It’s my night out – if I don’t like the place I chose or the people in it, I pick my ass up and walk out and go somewhere else. Kids crying don’t bother me. In fact, I find it quite amusing. Cheers to that not being our kid.

I like to eat out without children but I also like to treat my kids once in a while. They need to be exposed. They need to learn first hand what it’s like to eat out and to have respect for the restaurant and its patrons. What parent would not enjoy a night off from making dinner and washing up afterwards? Dinners out with my little family are great. We go at 6pm and we go to a pub or a casual restaurant close to home. I would never take them to a restaurant at 8pm by choice for many reasons.

Let me explain. My kids are not great sleepers. I’ve done all I can at this point and this isn’t a story about sleep but seeing as they are often tired in the evening, 7pm is not a good time for us. They are often cranky and ready for sleep so why in God’s name would I take them to a restaurant at that time or LATER than that? I’d be certifiable to do that. I don’t want to ruin another person’s night out with my cranky kids. I am very respectful of other people and this is what I’m trying to teach my kids. If you ever see me in a restaurant with my children after 7:30 pm please do me a favour and kick me out.

Just last night we had a family dinner at a local pub. We arrived armed with colouring books and pencil crayons. The key for us is to do activities that require the kids to sit down and focus on something. I always order the kid’s food with our drinks as soon as we sit down so that they don’t have to wait long to eat and I read or colour with them while we wait.

We have rules. They know that they have to remain seated while we’re there. Sometimes, depending on the establishment, I will let them walk around, to look out a window, or visit with a friend who is sitting at the other end of the table. But I make it perfectly clear that if anyone raises their voice or begins to behave badly (running, screaming, trying to crawl on top of the table, not listening) they get one warning and if it happens again we’re out.

I have no problems dragging a screaming three year old out of a restaurant while my husband waits for the food that is now take out. I will wait outside with my little monster while he pays the bill and apologizes to the waiter and to my six year old about why our night out was cut short.

We’ve had some wonderful restaurant experiences with our kids. We’ve also had some pretty shitty ones. There are a lot of factors involved. Lack of sleep, how their day was, whether or not they actually want to be there. I have never stopped trying to take them out with me. But I have expectations. I expect my kids to behave a certain way when we’re out. I’m not expecting them to be seen and not heard – they are children of course. They are allowed to get excited, to laugh and to move! All within reason.

I also expect restaurant owners and patrons to respect the little people. I don’t appreciate dirty looks. I don’t want my family to be on display for your critical eyes. I expect respect. I expect you to be tolerant of the people (little and grown) who share the planet with you. If you don’t want to be around children you should maybe look into a bubble – or a retirement community. Even there, they may visit.

We don’t all like everyone, and there are people who don’t like children. There are people who have children who don’t like other people’s children. But when you step outside of your home you will be faced with fellow humans who are raising children. They are not the enemy. Shit happens and sometimes baby’s cry and kids scream. If you don’t like it, move right along. It’s not a circus sideshow. Chances are the parents of those misbehaving kids don’t like it either.

In my opinion if it’s before 7pm my kids should be allowed to go wherever I want to take them. Am I going to take them on a wine tasting tour? No. Would I want to? Absolutely not. I like to think that I have good judgment about where I want my kids to go. I generally don’t take them anywhere where I know they won’t have a nice time. I don’t like taking them places where they need to be extremely still and quiet (ahem, ahem… church… ahem, ahem).  Yes, I take them to movies and they are very capable of sitting in the theatre with their little 3D glasses on to watch an age appropriate film. Will I be taking my three year old to see Harry Potter? No. She won’t enjoy it and it will scare the crap out of her.

What is wrong with our society that we feel entitled to take our kids to places that are not appropriate for them? Every parent knows what their kid enjoys or doesn’t. Every parent should know what is appropriate and what isn’t for their child regardless of age. To do anything otherwise is selfish and disrespectful to our neighbours, our children and ourselves.

I think something is happening to us. Our moral fabric is changing. People don’t really care about other people it seems. They’ve exhibited this to the point where restaurants feel the need to ban kids from eating there.

Why does a wine bar that only opens at six have to ban children? Why are people taking their children to a wine bar?

Babies banned from airlines? Excuse me? If I can pay upwards of $5000 for my baby to fly first class you bet that I’m going to do it. My baby will be more comfortable and so will I therefore curbing the crying. In fact, all parents flying with small children and babies should be upgraded to first class gratis not banned from it. Let’s make them comfortable.  It’ll make for a more enjoyable flight for all.

Where will we draw the line? Are we going to ban old people from flying coach? They often need help getting in and out of their seats, they are borderline narcoleptic and they may or may not smell of stale pee. Do we ban them? The seats are way too close together in coach. Why should I sit beside an old person? Who needs the inconvenience? Over 65? You can’t fly coach, dip into your pension and fly first class so nobody needs to sit beside you. Ridiculous right?

Also – do we ban alcohol from flights? But only for males aged 19-25. After three they act stupid and they can’t walk properly down the narrow aisles. I find that a drunk passenger is way more annoying than a crying baby.

What’s next? Will we ban kids from public transit? Why not? Hey, you’re a parent and your kid is talking way too loud and what is this laughing? Can’t you control your kid? You’re not allowed on the bus and you know what? Now that you have to walk, don’t you think your kid is way too big for his stroller?

Why do other people get to decide what I do with my family? That’s all I see everywhere. People taking it upon themselves to decide where you should take your kids and telling you how they should behave. I know that you don’t need a license to have children (are we one step closer to this?) but I think most parents have their children’s best interest in mind when they take them out of the house. Most people are reasonable about what expectations they have of their kids. Let’s encourage a less selfish and more tolerant society and maybe we’d all be happier.

Is this the example that we’re setting our kids? Don’t allow parents to think and be responsible for their own actions and those of their kids.  Just ban them.

  • http://momof8crazymonkeys.wordpress.com Chantel

    So true! It is the responsibility of us parents to know when and where and at what time is appropriate for our children.  I totally agree with you it indeed does seem to be that our society is becoming more selfish and less tolerant of everything – children included.
    Great post!

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