Monday, July 20, 2009

No Child Left Behind (Me in A Restaurant)

Last night my father and I decided to go out for dinner. And, being that we are in Allentown, our choices were limited to big box chain restaurants. We went in, were greeted half a dozen times by very friendly teenagers and taken to a booth in the bar area.

Seated in the booth behind me was a family -- not really surprising since most of these big box places cater to families. Standing on the bench that shared a divider with me was a little girl, just as cute as can be, blowing raspberries, and screaming and acting as a child that is bored and wants to do something else.

I tried to ignore it. I really did.

Then the child started reaching over the divider for my phone screaming to her mom, “Mommy, what’s that? Mommy, what’s that?”

My smile tightened.

My father was watching the baseball game.

Then the child was standing behind me, blowing raspberries and the thought that her spit was ending up in my hair made me grimace.

The mother continued talking to her friends. My father continued to watch baseball.

Then the child took her toy off the table and started banging it on the divider and then her mother’s head.

The banging got my dad’s attention. He rolled his eyes as I sighed, “seriously?”

The mother, who either heard my not so subtle “Seriously?” or was annoyed by the banging on her head told her daughter to turn around and sit down.

The little girl didn’t and the mother continued her conversation.

I ordered a beer.

If we were in a nicer place, I would have asked the hostess to move us somewhere quieter. However, there was no where quieter in this restaurant. I sighed again, longing for the days when people were allowed to smoke in places like this. Even when I wasn’t smoking, I would always ask for the smoking section -- because the smoking section was always blessedly free of children.

But now that smoking was banned in all public places -- screaming toddlers are everywhere: even at happy hour -- but that is a subject for another blog all together.

Still, this longing for a smoking section got me thinking. What if restaurants started offering a no children section? They could house people like me (with low annoyance tolerances) in the smaller, secluded sections that used to house their smokers. The rest of the place could welcome people that don’t mind screaming kids or mothers and fathers that have the ability to tune out their children.

Now, the Duchess is always talking about our great idea that will make us millions. Well, I am not sure this idea could make me millions, but it is at least as great as the Snuggie -- and so I am sharing it with all of you. Hopefully some courageous restaurateur will read this and start the trend.


Anonymous said...

They already have those:

Big box chain restaurant in Allentown = one big child section;

Something like the Continental in Philly = no child section.

Face it, when you want to "eat good in the neighborhood" with some Applebee's riblets, you must submit to the background symphony of hyper toddlers.

Tatiana said...

Ahh, Anonymous, you clearly haven't been to the Continental in awhile. Badly behaved toddlers are everywhere -- they are taking over the world.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, I feel your pain, Tatiana.

I love children but what is up with restaurant staff seating them in the BAR area of a restaurant?

Last I checked, the drinking age is 21 in the US.

Tina Marina said...

I hate kids.

Let's keep them inside. I swear I didn't see the inside of a sit-down restaurant until I was at least seven years old. And while I may have been a loud talker, my ass was always firmly planted in that seat.

Personally, I think this is a "average modern parent" issue.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Anonymous. Ever been witness to the big ass line of Bugaboo's inside Continental? If I ever misbehaved inside of a restaurant my Mother just shot me a look, followed by the phrase "Do you want to go to the bathroom?" which was code for "Do you want an ass whippping?" Instant silence!

~M said...

That is a much better idea than the snuggie. In fact, it's even a better idea than the WTF blanket.
I love kids and think they should be exposed to quality food; they are not the problem. The problem is the lazy-ass parents who can't be bothered to parent their children or bring a bag of quiet toys and snacks for the 7-hour flight and allow their children to run screaming around restaurants!

sweetlilvoice said...

A child free section was once discussed in Sex and the City I think. The best episode was when a young child dumped a plate of pasta on Samantha.

Anonymous said...

Wow... lot of non-parents here.

You see, these things can start well. You go to dinner, and the kid is fascinated by his/her surroundings, and spends the first few minutes just staring around. Then it takes a while for the waiter to get your orders, so the kid gets fidgety. You brought toys and crayons, so the problem is solved.

Finally, the orders are taken, but the kid is now hungry, so you let him/her eat all the bread they bring. This is the turning point. By time the dinner arrives, the kid is full and doesn't want to eat dinner. He/she just wants to run now. You try and eat, but the kid has now climbed out of the booster seat and is waving and saying "hi... hi... hi... hi!" to the people on the other side of the booth. You then put the kid back in the booster seat, but he/she REALLY wants to explore the restaurant. Dinner is cold and boring, and all the toys that you brought just aren't that interesting anymore. Decision time: you can let the kid be a bit of a nudge and "talk" to the people on the other side of the booth, or you can force him/her back into the booster seat and risk a full-blown toddler meltdown.

Of course, I suppose that parents such as this should remain home, order take-out, and watch "Dora the Explorer."