Saturday, November 12, 2005

Saturday Soapbox

So today I stumbled upon this article.

Can I just say that it is my humble opinion that as a society, we are indeed very child-centered? And that I don't necessarily think it is a good thing?

Let me clarify that. Of course if you are a parent then your child should be one of your your main priorities. You should do things with your child, they should not be stuck in the house all day. It is good for them to interact with other people and be exposed to lots of different things. I don't think that "children should be seen and not heard" is realistic at all.

That being said, there are way too many parents that are afraid to discipline their children when on an outing. Who knows, they might very well be the same way at home. Oh the poor dears will not like me if I tell them they cannot dump all the sugar out of the packages and onto the table. News flash- we as parents are not here to be liked. We are here to guide and protect.

Goodness knows, I try not to judge. Parenting is hard, and each child is different. I would not condone a a one-size-fits-all discipline strategy.

But is it too much to ask that your wailing toddler be removed from the premises until they calm down so that the rest of us may enjoy our meal? Or your child that is hitting the back of the booth and thus almost hitting my head be told to stop? Or that the extremely loud banging of the spoon does not go on for ever and ever?

There is a definite social protocol when going out to eat. It should apply as much as possible to children as well. If you allow them to throw things, bang loudly on the table, and scream in frustration that they cannot have more apple juice, please do it at home. And stay at home. I mean this in a way that if your toddler throws his peas onto the floor, there is a warning. If the peas or something else is thrown to the floor again, the child is disciplined in a way that ensures it will not occur again. If your child will behave when you take his favorite toy away, then it should be gone. If your child is rebelling and screaming bloody murder about the discipline, then they are removed temporarily from the situation. It's as easy as that.

Yes, I have done it a few times when Mr. Personality chose not to listen.

There were no problems for the rest of the meal when he returned.

To be fair, there are many restaurants that cater to children, and as far as I am concerned, if crayons are offered with the menu, you are taking your chances with the noise that does come naturally with children. For example, Mr. Personality is having a volume control issue lately. He starts to talk, he gets excited, and the volume goes up accordingly. He is not doing it do manipulate or express anger, it just kind of happens. Same thing for a baby. If a baby is gurgling happily and loudly, that is very different than crying because something is wrong. It is not hard to tell the difference between "natural" noise and that of making noise because they are trying to make a point. But even then, when is the noise just too much for your fellow diners to have to bear? When does your right to not have your child stop their disruptive behavior begin to encroach upon someone else's right to have a fairly pleasant outing?

I tried to think if I would boycott a restaurant that had a sign reminding patrons about "inside" voices. I don't think I would because I happen to think they are right, and that if people are paying for a meal, it should fall upon parents to be considerate of other diners.

I'm all for erring on the side of caution as far as the noise level, but I have seen for myself that many people happen to disagree.

I know, because I have actually been hit in the head by a preschooler who was continually banging on the back of the booth behind me. Until eventually he missed and got my head instead.

The parents never even said a word to me. That is just wrong. And all too common, it seems.


maxine said...

Forget the kids. When do we get to tell the men who think they are so damn important that everyone in the restaurant needs to hear about all the widgets they bought at some widget conference in podunk Minnesota?

Maybe I'm lucky or maybe I'm just more tolerant of kids but I really can't remember a time where a kid has been totally out of control. I'm sure it's happened but it didn't stick in my mind enough to remember it.

I do remember all the times some REALLY LOUD GUY SITTING AT THE TABLE NEXT TO ME IS TELLING HIS FELLOW DINERS ABOUT HOW BIG HIS JOHNSON IS (Not really but it might as well be about his Johnson).

I think everyone agrees that parents should control their children but what about THE REALLY LOUD GUY WITH THE BIG JOHNSON? Who controls him?

I think the breakdown in manners is an across the board thing and doesn't just apply to children.

Elizabeth said...

That was me commenting above, not Max.

Anvilcloud said...

I just might tend to say something if I was being disturbed at my meal.

Oh, and women can be very loud too. It's a personality thing more than a gender thing.

Gina said...

Hmmm, noise issues in restaurants are almost always with kids for me.

Most of the time, the restaurants we go to are noisy anyway, it usually takes a kid to break through the din.

But, I see AC's point, because if you get a bunch of women at a table, it can get REALLY loud.

Elizabeth said...

Yes...I agree that women can be loud too but we just happen to be cursed with always having to sit next to the loudest man in the world almost everytime we go to a restaurant.

I imagine it's karmic paybacks for something I just wish I knew what.

Piece of Work said...

Gina-- I wrote a post about this today, too.

I agree with Elizabeth on this one--I've found myself much more annoyed by the loud adults on their cellphones than by kids in restaurants.

Kids are kids and sometimes they don't behave the way we'd like them too. Parents do have a responsiblity to "control" them as much as they can, especially in public, but sometimes, despite your best intentions, your kids has a meltdown.

I think the attitude of the restauranteur here is offensive. Of course, it's hard to know exactly how badly the kids are acting, or how much the parents are ignoring the behvior from the article. But the way he calls the mothers "cheerleaders and beauty queens" really made him sound like a misogynist, pompous ass.

(Of course I am not condoning letting your kid run wild.)

WordsRock said...

Loud people in general annoy me.

That being said, children whose parents do not monitor their behavior have no leg to stand on when others object to their children's unruly behavior.

Those folks ruin it for everyone.


Elizabeth said...

Girl...that made no sense.

WordsRock said...

Girl? Who, me? Sorta kinda makes sense to me. Maybe I should give up drinking my breakfast. Or maybe you should start?