by Ashley Murphy
I was sitting in a local restaurant recently, attempting to enjoy my dinner after a very long day at work. Little did I know that there was a one person band playing that night. Not a very good band. One of those that make you want to scream at them to kill the noise before your ears start bleeding. A one person band consisting of a 14 month old, beating incessantly on an upside down chip bowl with various metal utensils. My patience was wearing thin.
Another diner at my table stated that he wanted to go over to the table and slap that baby across the face. Now, I don't condone the slapping of babies (it can cause an extensive visit to your local penitentiary), but I understood where he was coming from. This, in turn, led to me suggesting a different route. If he really wanted to slap someone, it should have been the parents.
A few years ago, I went on a Gatlinburg trip with some friends. One night, we decided to leave the cabin and have dinner at Ruby Tuesdays. There were myself, my boyfriend at the time, the couple we were with and their 2 sons; one only a few months old, the other only a couple of years old. Of course, the hostess would have to seat us in the middle of the dining room with booths around us on all sides, all holding other patrons looking to satisfy their hunger. Well, the oldest decides he's bored in his high chair and wants to entertain himself...by throwing food, silverware, ice, straws, napkins, you name it. But it wasn't just amongst the table, he was throwing them at people sitting at other tables! The mom just kept taking things away and saying, "Stop. That's not nice." To which he started laughing and did it again. This went on throughout the entire meal. He even managed to get the baby crying by throwing stuff on him as the parents continued to eat, just ignoring what was going on with their kids. I swear I could have been cast to Hades with some of the looks our table was receiving. I was completely and utterly mortified.
I understand needing to give your child something to occupy themselves while you try to eat your dinner, but can't you find something a little quieter?! While you may find the endless banging of metal against plastic adorable, I find it nearly unbearable. And when those bowls and utensils start flying across the room in the direction of other patrons...lock it down! Take the junk away from the kid. If they start screaming, please take them outside! That sound isn't music to my ears either! It's your inconvenience to take care of, please don't inconvenience the rest of us.
To confirm any angry remarks being thrown my way right now, no, I do not have kids. I like it that way. Yes, I do want them someday. And, yes, I won't lie, I'm saying they come with some inconveniences...like the need to make noises and throw tantrums in public that would make the devil run and hide. Maybe that outlook will change when I'm finally ready for children of my own, but I really hope that I respect those around me when in public to not make them suffer. Parents need to take charge and take responsibility. Haul your kid up and take them to the car and strap them in their car seat and let them scream and kick and punch as much as they want. It's the parents' burden to deal with, not everyone else's within a 5 mile radius of your child's lungs, arms and legs.
A couple of years ago I wrote about a restaurant in Pennsylvania who had banned children under the age of 6. My first thought, "I wish I lived in Monroeville. I would eat at this restaurant everyday!" I'm all for it. I don't believe every restaurant should enact such a policy, but there are a few here in Cleveland that would be perfect candidates for such a ban.
Some are highly disgusted that such a thought should even come about. But I guarantee you, if some of the restaurants around here had a similar ban, they would probably get more of my business. If you say that would deter you from going again because it's so preposterous...good! Stay at home with your kids. It doesn't hurt me any. I will get to enjoy a quiet meal, be able to have a decent conversation and not have to worry about picking flying food out of my hair.
I think I would even be happy if restaurants entertained the idea of having "family" sections for families that dine with children under a certain age. They required smokers to sit in the "smoking" section so as not to disturb other patrons. So why not turn those former smoking sections into the "family section" and let the families annoy each other?
I realize not all children are as unruly as the many that I've come across and maybe those parents don't feel like that ban should apply to them. Then how about you start up some sort of parental etiquette course and teach those parent's that don't give a hoot a little about manners, respect and discipline? It completely disgusts and, quite frankly, disturbs me to see how some of these kids act and the parents just sit there like a lump on a log and don't even attempt to reprimand their children. I can only imagine what the home life is like as they let their kids walk all over them.
Even when that day comes that I finally have children of my own, I believe I would still support such bans or cordoning off of sections. We would just have to find somewhere else to eat. Or my husband and I could go have dinner, alone, and enjoy some peace and quiet. I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands of teenagers and college age people out there that would love to make some extra money watching our kids for a couple of hours while we go to a child-free restaurant and have some adult time. Or, if need be, get a to-go order.
Get mad, disagree, chastise me, I don't really care. I won't apologize for enjoying a dinner or a shopping trip that doesn't require me to duck from flying objects or plug my ears from blood curdling screams....