Monday, September 13, 2010

Free desserts also appreciated.

The stars aligned just right today.  I remembered to turn on the radio to a talk program I like AND had enough quiet in the house to listen and not go crazy.  I even tried to call in, but by the the skies must have shifted and the kids started yelling.  Or maybe it was just that at 11:30 my boys turn into hungry gremlins.

The radio program is The Christopher Gabriel Show, and we are lucky enough to be friends - IN PERSON- with both Christopher & his amazing wife Wendy. Their oldest daughter, big C, was in Leah's class last year, and although she's being homeschooled this year, it has not changed the fact that Leah and big C are cut from fairly identical cloth.  Little C is a bit younger than Ben, and keeps things lively.

Anyway, CG always teases that I don't listen to his program.  But it's nothing personal - I don't really listen to ANY radio while at home, but if I do, it's his.  So there.

Today I caught that The Christopher Gabriel Show was going to be discussing a restaurant that had hung a sign saying, "Screaming Children WILL NOT be tolerated!".  Apparently the restaurant has seen an increase in traffic, rather than the my predicted decrease.

I have no problem with people not wanting to listen to a screaming kid.  It's not like I personally enjoy it, either.  And if a kid IS screaming, and the parents are ignoring the child, then yes, go ahead and point out the fact that they are in PUBLIC and maybe they might want to try to parent, hmm?

If a kid is screaming and can't be consoled, most reasonable parents will leave until the child is calmed down.  And if you have a child prone to screaming fits, I don't think "eating out" is at the top of your list.  We are currently in the phase of Adam's life I like to refer to as "the no-restaurant zone".  Since Adam was about nine months old, we have avoided restaurants except when traveling.  Oh, we still eat out once in awhile, but it is much rarer than before.  This is purely for our convenience - babies from about 9mo- 18 mo are just a pain to feed away from home.  They are messy, eat specific foods (peas but not beans), and tend to have an attention span of approximately 3 seconds.  Also, they have NO patience for waiting for food to arrive.

If we DO decide to go out to eat, we take turns walking Adam around the restaurant sight-seeing (which may be more annoying to some patrons, but can you not smile at his drooling, grinning face?  I don't think so.)  We also bring snacks and let him play with the crayons and kids' menus that are provided at the restaurants we frequent.  Also, we hand him spoons and butter knives.  But we have learned not to let him play with the creamer cups.

But still.

Here's my problem:  Does this sign give you a general warm feeling about this restaurant?  Um, no.  Not as a parent, but even just as a human being.  "Will not be tolerated" is not a phrase that I associate with "Come on in and let us serve you!"

Also, if screaming children will not be tolerated, I would hope that the following would not be tolerated, either:

1) Obnoxious laughing (the kind you can hear across restaurant)
2) Swearing
3) Dirty jokes
4) Excessive alcohol consumption

and also, from the restaurant itself (as long as we're making rules!)

1) rudeness from staff
2) having to track down the check so we can leave
3) a sticky seat...or table

But I don't like to dwell TOO long on the negatives.  Here are the things that I LUUURVE about past restaurants:
1) servers who talk to the kids and seem to genuinely enjoy them
2) being given extra napkins - and even an extra plate!
3) drinks refilled without us noticing

What do you think about the "no screaming kids" sign?  Would you go in with kids?  Or without kids?  Have you had a really great experience at a restaurant lately?  What made it great - one thing, or lots of little things?


Aaron said...

Excellent point. While I find random, screaming babies as annoying as anybody, have a pre-emptively hostile attitude towards anything isn't the friendly face a service provider should have.

AJ said...

I think that establishments that are not kid friendly would be able to have this as an unspoken rule. If high prices, low lights, and weird food aren't enough to keep the little kids out, they probably wouldn't respect the sign anyway. If you have to tape up a sign it probably means you are basically a family eating place that just isn't friendly.

Stacie said...

Do you know what restaurant it is? I'd love to take all 3 kids there & create mass chaos. I'd love to see them try to kick us out.
It's not that they don't enjoy loud children, it's that they put up a rude sign.

Lyz said...

Stacie, the restaurant is out in Virgina, I think, so unless you want to take three kids on a PLANE...:)

And I do want to point out that the sign said "children" and not babies. I presume that the infants get more grace. But I wouldn't count on it!

Also, the restaurant owner said the family wouldn't be asked to leave permanently, just until the kid calmed down.

Still, I really think it's fine for a business to have that policy - just not to post it in the window. Sheesh.