December 22, 2015
In my last column I described a number of “pet peeves” I experience based on the actions of restaurant managers and servers. As I was writing, I realized that some of the things that bother me the most are attributable to fellow adult diners with accompanying children. Loud and intrusive behaviors of children can bring discomfort to those around them. When choosing a restaurant, particularly for dinner, I find myself gravitating to establishments that don’t attract families with children.
Being a parent myself, I can empathize with parents who must decide whether to bring their offspring to a restaurant or leave them home with a sitter, family, or friends. I don’t agree with the maxim: Children should be seen and not heard. After all, I have the two most wonderful daughters on the planet (OK, I’m willing to concede that your children are a very close second) and they never cease to amaze me with their intellect, wit, and charm. And I am a strong advocate for bringing well behaved children to restaurants as a convenient way to help integrate them into adult society.
However, I would posit that from time to time, many of us encounter children in restaurants whose behavior ranges from distracting to downright annoying. Rather than blame the children I think it’s usually the parents who are responsible.
This month I’d like to offer some suggestions for parents that might help make dining out more pleasant for all of us. If your children delight in pushing cutlery off the table and then hearing the sound of it bouncing off the tile floor, want to practice their incipient drumming skills using spoons on marble table tops, emit intermittent piercing screams, or become restless and enjoy running between tables, please consider the following suggestions:
And here’s a thought for restaurant management. Please remind your host/hostess to be aware of adult diners’ comfort. When your host/hostess sees a family with children enter the restaurant, perhaps he/she can seat them away from the main dining area. Some restaurants have privately designated an unofficial children’s section.
Note: Just as I was ready to submit this column, I had lunch at a restaurant where two very young children at a nearby table were adorable, well behaved, and quiet. Meanwhile, at an adjacent table, four thirty-something women—who appeared to have had one drink too many—were loud and disruptive, laughing at the top of their lungs and making it virtually impossible for other diners to carry on a conversation. Go figure![jbox color=”gray”] ￼SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW
|Henry Stark has been a food and wine columnist, writer, and restaurant reviewer for the Ithaca Journal, the Ithaca Times, and The Good Life magazine. A teacher, advocate, and enthusiast, Henry shares his always well-considered—sometimes contrarian—views in inimitable style, opening the door to a robust conversation with fellow members.|