Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Kids-In-Public Debate

I saw a post on Facebook recently:  "Restaurant Bans Loud Children, Strollers and Booster Seats From Dining Room." I'm honestly not sure which I enjoyed more: reading the article or watching the debate that ensued.

This restaurant, in Monterey, California has banned loud children from it's establishment. The sign out front reads "Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to others and, as such, are not allowed in the dining room." This could go one of two ways, right? Turns out that the majority of the staunch supporters of this rule are parents themselves. How enlightening. And, exactly how I feel.

In my opinion, our responsibility as parents, when it comes to social settings is two-fold:

1.  Teach our children to behave properly, kindly and respectfully in public so as not to disrupt others in that environment.

2.  Know when to keep our kids home (or somewhere else). Period.

And, the reason these establishments have to enforce these rules is because more than one of us couldn't handle this respectful expectation.

When I became a parent, I completely re-evaluated my social activities. I now frequent such places as playgrounds, swimming pools and beaches as opposed to fine dining restaurants (unless it's date night, of course), movie theaters (again, date night specific) or libraries.

Speaking of libraries: many of them now have special sections for kids. I live in a small Colorado Mountain Community that is lucky enough to have four relatively large libraries. I guess it's true - Coloradans run out of things to do in the winter. So, we read. My favorite library has not only a special section for kiddos, but it's closed off to the rest of the library, so that any excitement Baba proclaims over the most recent Leslie Patricelli board book being released, does not effect those attempting to quietly enjoy themselves.

However, one of the other libraries in this valley has a special section, but it's not separate or closed off. One day, I chose to bring Baba here instead of our favorite (a little variety is good for kids!). And, another momma was dealing with her child being quite loud. When approached by a middle-aged man asking her to please keep her child quiet, she got quite defensive. I see both sides here. She wants to teach her child how to behave well in the library and that libraries are for "inside voices." Said man just wanted some peace and quiet to read.

Are there certain public areas, establishments or buildings that children should not be allowed into? My answer is an easy "yes." Not everyone, even if they have kids, wants to hear every scream, squeal, laugh or meltdown from a child.  Especially if we are attempting to get some (much needed and often skipped) time to ourselves or with husband. Or girlfriends. Gasp!

Aside from that, it's much more fun to bring Baba to a playground where she can run fancy free than attempt to corral her happily in a fancy restaurant. Yes, I can still teach her how to behave within societal norms while balancing her enjoyment with those around her.

Our kinda place!

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