Friday, August 29, 2008

Your thoughts please...

I have a question for you parents and non-parents alike. In your opinion, what types of restaurants are appropriate to take young, loud children to? I'm talking about babies in stroller through bouncy 4-5 year olds that can't seem to be contained to their own table.

My boss said her and her husband use this rule of thumb, if there are paper tablecloths, it's kid appropriate. I think that's a good rule of thumb. Buffets, places with menus with photos of food on them, paper napkins, plastic cups, pizzerias, etc. I definitely expect kids.

Why is it that some people just DON'T GET IT?????? Come on people. We're eating sushi in a dimly lit, mod-decorated place, dropping like $50 on dinner. Young children do not belong here. Why on earth would you not have the common decency to just order take out OR get a sitter and have your own romantic dinner? I know kids are unpredictable. I know life changes dramatically when you have them, but I would still think that basic manners should apply. I suppose these are the same people that probably talk on their phones in restaurants and bathrooms as well though. I did enjoy the one couple that had a screaming baby, waiting on their takeout order that paced with the baby in front of our table trying to calm him. I can't be the only one that this annoys the crap out of, what say you?

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13 comments:

girlnblack77 said...

Wow. I can't wait to see the plethora of responses you get on this one.
Basically, we look for some of the same indicators as your boss. If we see high chairs, paper or laminated menus, and particularly *coin-operated vending machines near the entrance* (like for rubber balls or bubble gum), it's usually kid-friendly.
The catch-22, of course, is that if you never take your kids out to a nicer place, they never learn how to behave at a nicer place. Mine have just recently graduated from fast food and buffet restaurants to patio dining. This way, if either have a meltdown, we can barely be heard over the outdoor noises, and if they spill, not *as* big a deal.
However, there's no hard-and-fast rule. I wouldn't take kids to (insert national coffee chain here) or to places that catered to the college crowd - both of which often use paper goods. Bottom line? Use common sense, I guess...

Jeni said...

You know you make a really good point. They definitely need to learn at some point, and I think that places with patio dining are actually a great idea. So are middle of the road chains that are normally a little noisy. What really pisses me off is when the kid is having a meltdown and the parents don't do ANYTHING or even better the toddler running from table to table disturbing other people. I do love kids, but when I go out for date night, I'm not there to entertain some stranger's kid while they scarf down their food.

Giff said...

The right type of place depends on the personality of the child. Our 3 year old is high energy (read: squirmy!), so we pretty much save it for kid-friendly places. That doesn't have to mean a pizza joint though -- my town is very family oriented so you see kids of all ages regularly in all but the very highest-end places. I think most places with "regulars" tend to be family friendly. I also think eating early is key, so you have less chance of disturbing "the adults". But there is no question at all about this point: while our daughter is a wonderful thing, if she decides to act up and make a scene, she'll be whisked out of there faster than you can say "pass the salt." I think it's like cell phones -- take em outside until it's over! Basic manners.

Giff said...

And CONGRATS Jeni :)

girlnblack77 said...

The other thing I forgot to mention is... most restaurants these days offer some version of a menu online, regardless of whether it's part of a chain or an independent operation... if there's no kids' menu, forgo it until the child is old enough to eat adults' fare (12 and up).

Vanessa Greenway said...

Dh and I gave up on going out with our kid a long time ago... I totaly agree with you. Even when she was a little baby we never wanted to go out because babies are noisy. But whenever you have a kid I don't even know if you're planning on having one, you'll see that sometimes you really want to go to a certain place and unfornutanely you won't have anyone to care for you kid. It's life... V.

Lenore said...

What I want to know is: Are fewer people getting babysitter now than 20 years ago or so? Are fewer kids babysitting? I see so many kids out and about and hear about so few parents I know getting babysitters, so I've wondered a lot about this.

Lisa said...

I couldn't agree with you more. My rule of thumb is do they have a kids menu? My 10 year old loves going to fancy restaurants and we can take her anywhere since she behaves and will eat everything. We go bvy the kids menu rule for our 6 year old.

girlnblack77 said...

@Lenore: Going on ten years, here, and I have never hired a babysitter for evenings out. (1) They're too expensive and (2) I can't trust my kids with just anyone. I look back on when I started babysitting at age 12 and am horrified folks trusted someone so young. I have other moms with whom I 'trade' babysitting (with kids near the same ages as mine), and then if I can't work that out, we'll just stay in. It helps keep us on budget, and makes it really special when we *do* go out.
The other problem we're combating is that kids' menus are often junk, and my kids prefer real food. However, they can't eat a chef salad the size of their heads, so we prefer places with a' la carte menus so as not to be wasteful. With depression-era grandparents, my husband and I cannot stand the thought of spending $15 on a meal and have a child eat only a quarter of it and be full...

Valerie at We Love Durham said...

I think most people feel differently after they have kids than before.

I don't like kids running around in restaurants simply because I think they are going to be tripped over, ouch. But they don't ruin my experience or anything.

In general, I think kids should be more welcome and accommodated in more places than they are currently. They're people, too! :)

teg said...

I am a gleefully single, unattached, non-mothering woman, but I do have a fabulous niece and several friends with small people in tow. I agree with you, Jeni, that in many circumstances there are parents who are clueless as to "appropriate" public dining behavior. They drive me crazy as well, but my answer is that there will always be the misbehaved child or the screaming toddler who will ruin your dinner on occasion. Some people don't care, or they expect you to care about their children's tantrums. Remind me to tell you about my incident at Moe's, where I almost had to slug someone who bad-mouthed my Abby. I mean really, we're talking about a place where the cooks scream, "Welcome to Moe's" to everyone who walks in. How could one child's enthusiasm be so overbearing?!

Stacey Snacks said...

Jeni,
I don't have children, and I know you are going to be a mom soon!
My sister has triplets, 8 yrs. old. She chooses places with "kids' menus", chicken fingers, burgers, etc., because they don't want to eat gravlax, sushi, truffles and pork belly (but I do!). Chains like TGI Fridays, Chili's, etc. are geared towards kids.
Or, if you want to take a child to a more upscale restaurant, how about going before 8 pm?
There is nothing worse than being in a pricey restaurant at 9 pm in NYC and some hipster comes in with her crying baby & thinks it's so cool.
The baby should be sleeping at home, or with a sitter.
Don't ruin other people's nights out, that may have paid a babysitter!
I hope that doesn't sound too harsh.
Stacey

Jeni said...

I agree that the kids menu is a good rule of thumb and yes I've also noticed the only things on it are usually chicken tenders, mac n cheese and hot dogs. So I do understand the struggle for parents that actually want to feed a well-rounded meal.

I do love children and I'm sure we'll frequent restaurants where we expect them to be more once we have ours. I still firmly believe that a misbehaving child should be handled appropriately instead of being left to their tantrum or screaming in ANY restaurant and particularly a nice one!

Thank you to all for sharing your insight and Tracey, if there is anywhere meant for kids, it's definitely Moe's.

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