Banning Kids From Restaurants Leaves a Bad Taste
"You mean, you won't seat us at 7 p.m.?" asks my husband, holding the car seat with our one-month old daughter sleeping soundly.
"As I explained, we do not seat children after 8 p.m. and since you won't be finished by then we can't seat you now," the host explains for the second time.
My husband and I stand there incredulously. How could one of our favourite neighbourhood pubs be refusing to seat us? We were regulars who had drunk their fine beer and even ordered their off-the-menu burger for a decade.
We tried to explain that our baby girl was fast asleep and would most likely stay asleep for hours and if she woke up her cry was similar to a mew of a cat, certainly not louder than the drunken sports star at the bar. But no, they turned us away and we never went back.
Every few months a restaurant makes news for banning strollers, babies or screaming children and it revives the debate over kids in a restaurants. Can a restaurant ban children from their midst? Does it make the restaurant more pleasant to dine in? Or do parents have a right to take their children and their means of transportation to any restaurant they want?
We have taken our infants to many fine dining restaurants (even better ones than the pub that shunned us) and have always been welcome. We have taken our kids to greasy spoons where our large brood and strollers have been given the evil eye.
My kids aren't perfect, they aren't even close to perfect. They have behaved badly in restaurants, they have done everything that is annoying -- including fighting, crying, knocking over things and making a giant mess. But they have also been a pleasure to dine with, enjoying every moment of the special experience. We will not stop taking our kids to restaurants, we want them to learn the art of dining out and we also enjoy the break (if being on guard for an entire meal is considered a break). We have found that kids almost always live up to the expectations we set for them.
We have boycotted the restaurant in our neighbourhood that turned us away, though I doubt they have noticed the difference. The hardest part about that particular incident is that when we had taken our young kids there (before the ban), a table across the room had sent us two glasses of wine because our kids were so well-behaved and adorable and reminded them of their grandchildren. It is one of those unexpected moments that I treasure but I guess no one gets to have that kind of special experience there again.
Looks like the folks at MSN disagree with me. They put together this (tongue-in-cheek) gallery of things parents get judged for.
Do you think restaurants should ban babies and/or kids from their establishments? What is your most disasterous story of a baby in a restaurant?