|At my mum's 60th birthday a few years back|
Yesterday afternoon on talk back radio, I heard an interview with Mike Vuick, owner of McDain's, a restaurant in Pennsylvania. It is attached to a golf driving range and is a little more upmarket than the usual casual dining eatery from what I could gather. The reason he was being interviewed on Australian radio (his 55th interview for the week he claimed) was that he had made the decision to ban children under the age of six from eating in his restaurant.
Vuick's reasoning was that babies communicate by crying and that toddlers can't keep still. He felt that other patrons had the right to come to his upmarket establishment and enjoy a meal free from the noise and antics of children. He was also concerned that children running around would inevitably cause a "catastrophic" event if they ran into a waiter holding a large platter of food.
The decision received mixed reviews from locals, however most seemed to support it. The talk back callers here in Australia were overwhelmingly in support of it. And these weren't just childless couples, singles or older people ringing up. Everyone - from parents to grandparents - thought this was a genius idea! This really surprised me but got me thinking about times when I have taken my children to a restaurant. Admittedly, I don't do it very often. I find babysitters and offload whenever I can! But that's always been for the sole purpose of sitting and enjoying a hot meal and some adult conversation...I haven't really given much thought to other patrons. I tend to take the boys to family owned restaurants more.
I don't take them to up-market restaurants and when I do take the boys out to eat, my husband and I do make an effort to keep them in their seats and we certainly don't let our 2 year old run freely around! We take things to keep them entertained because we understand kids are kids and they are not just going to eat and then sit and listen to adult conversation for 2 hours...things like small cars, pencils and colouring-in books and their Leapfrog Explorers. My sister in-law doesn't travel to a restaurant without her portable DVD player because it keeps her daughter entertained during the meal. So I'm wondering if it's just lax parents that should be banned rather than children? Or are kids these days just loud and unruly? Should children be not heard and not seen? Or are there just some restaurants that should cater for children and others that should be adult only?
After listening to all the callers, I'm feeling a bit guilty about having taken my kids out!! That photo at the top was taken at a restaurant a few years back when we went out to celebrate my mum's 60th birthday. I only had Thomas and Daniel back then and my niece Alessia was also there. It was hard to keep them still that night because they were a bit young but we did try our best. I remember getting a filthy look from another patron who was there with a small sleeping baby...she seemed to think it was okay to be there with a baby but not toddlers...but what if that baby had started screaming? Our little ones weren't screaming, just talkative and generally happy.
Mind you, I like (really, really like) going out to dinner with friends whilst my children have a sleepover at my parent's place. However, I don't mind if my friends bring along their children or if other patrons have children. I don't expect them to sit in silence either. I smile knowingly at other people battling to keep their children still because I know it's a difficult task. I don't begrudge them a meal out. Maybe I'm just more tolerant?
What does everyone think? Should more restaurants take a leaf out of Mike Vuick's book and ban children under the age of six?