UnderCover Waitress: Dining With Children

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dining With Children

Under Cover Waitress FB: 

Saw this 5 Tips for Eating Out With Kids  and was amused. The article is good and includes excellent advice about dining with children in restaurants. For example:
  •  Schedule things so that young children do not arrive at a restaurant exhausted. 
  • Adults may take turns holding the baby or taking a walk (outside, if possible) with a toddler. 
  • Bring activities for the children while waiting for dinner to arrive. 
But the one part in this article when the author suggests rehearsing a restaurant meal at home, complete with menus and somebody playing waiter, tickled my funny bone.

In fact, try having a family “restaurant” night where everyone is on their best behavior. Dress up and have someone play waiter, print menus and let everyone vote on a name.

Lol. Sounds like fun, but does any family do this?

Am the youngest of a large brood. My mother has always been proud of how her progeny behave at the table. On a family vacation when I was only 3 or 4 years of age, she still recalls hearing waitresses in a restaurant we frequented during our stay arguing when we arrived. They all wanted to serve us.

We sat in our seats and ate. This was never questioned. It was required at all meals, even every family dinner during which we convened at a round table in the breakfast nook, every night of my years growing up. Every night. Sit together and eat. When the behavior is normal, it happens in public, too.

Of course, I continue this tradition of coming together for dinner with my own children.

Went out to brunch with my own brood just this past weekend. Got a lovely, outdoor table. The table next to ours had four adults seated and in the middle of their meal. Wish I'd had a camera to take pictures of the absolute dread on their faces when they saw two children being seated near them. Why do people always assume the worst? One bad apple and you'd think the whole basket was bad.

My children ordered politely, as they have been taught to do, and we entertained ourselves with a guessing game until our meal arrived.

Children are people, too.

Because I believe children should be included as members of society, I was distressed to see this headline: Restaurant Bans Kids Under 6. McDain's in Pennsylvania is implementing this new rule with no exceptions. While it is not legally defined as discrimination to refuse service to groups with young children, it does feel like discrimination.

Law and Daily Life sums it up thus:

There aren't laws that prohibit business owners from making a "no kids" ban. Under federal law, places of public accommodation, including places of food, lodging, entertainment or gasoline, cannot discriminate against customers on the basis of race, color, religion or natural origin. 


Where do "babies" and "kids under 6" fit into this scheme? They actually don't. There is no federal law being violated under Vuick's new restaurant policy. 


However, senior citizens are a protected class under the law, reports WTAE-TV. As a result, having a "no senior citizens" rule would have pushed Vuick over into breaking the law.

I am not immune to being around people who let their kids run roughshod around the restaurant. I have dealt with slobs who let their kids make a massive mess and leave it for "the help" to clean up. And nobody wants to sit next to a screaming child and not be able to do anything about it because the adults in the party choose not to take the child outside and comfort him.

It is sad when those with no manners nor etiquette spoil everything for the rest of us. I don't think that provocative signs warning parents that their children will not be tolerated is the answer, either. There are nicer ways of doing things if necessary, for example: "Please allow crying children a breath of fresh air."

We had a couple in the restaurant one night who asked to move when a perfectly nice family was sat next to them. I had to bite my tongue when she said, "We don't think children should be allowed in restaurants." I almost said, "I don't think *you* should be allowed in public, period." Fortunately, they were not my table. Every person who did anything for them that night, however, was a highly offended mother.

In the short run, this banning of children may bring in like-minded adults and boost business. In the long run, however, we are a society that continues to show children how little they matter. We don't make it easy for parents to stay home with little ones, but we don't want to pay for quality day care or early education services. We don't want to put our resources into our failing public school system. Children in many states continue to go without adequate medical and dental care. Now, we are banning them from restaurants? What is next?

I am certain that this generation of children will throw us away when they reach adulthood, because if they are anything like their role models, they won't want to pay for services for the elderly. And it will serve us right.

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