Blogger's Note: I wrote this for my blog at my workplace and my Editor refused to run it. In an email to me, she opined: I appreciate you penning another post (after refusing to run The Lion Sleeps Tonight) and being so candid about your opinions. I’m struggling because this one offends me on a personal level, as a parent of young children. I agree with you about the fancy restaurant, but tantrums are a normal part of child development, and if it were easy and appropriate to do away with them by bribery, all parents would do just that. It’s not always possible to just pick up and leave. In my opinion, the price of raising well-adjusted children who can conduct themselves out in the world is that we all have to be generous about some tantrums now and again, in airplanes and restaurants and stores. It may seem like parents are oblivious or pretending, but sometimes the best thing to do is just get through it so you can address it when everyone is calm. Most parents are trying their best.
Nancy's note: My post is intended to be humorous. In addition, it has my name and photo on it, so it's obviously my opinion, right? And after reading my Editor's note, I'd never want to go to a restaurant with her!
Lately, it seems that everywhere I go, whether it is on an airplane, in a restaurant, at a movie, or even shopping for a car, somewhere nearby is a screaming child with his or her seemingly oblivious parent (or perhaps they are just wishing for oblivion). This seems to be an alarming new parenting phenomenon that is sweeping the nation.
Many years ago, my sister-in-law and I were shopping with my then 2-year old niece Rachel. After a while, Rachel reached her shopping limit and started to throw a tantrum of epic proportions. Unfazed, my sister-in-law put her items down un-purchased, picked up Rachel and we left the store. Rachel was screaming at the top of her lungs and I’m sure that everyone was grateful when we left.
Last month, my husband got a bonus at work and we decided to treat ourselves to a fancy dinner at the Atlantic Fish Company in Boston. This is an expensive restaurant downtown and you can’t get in without a reservation. We were very excited to go eat there. Naturally, the hostess tried to seat us at the table next to the young couple with the screaming toddler. I refused and asked to be seated somewhere else. Fortunately another table was available. We still had a view of this young family and I watched the child scream for at least 20 minutes before the mother finally handed the little boy her cell phone to play with.
I do not have children of my own, but I have a niece and three nephews, and when they were little I would never take them out in public without a bag of snacks, several books, and a couple of toys to play with. I don’t even take my pugs for a walk without a bag of dog cookies in my pocket. I call it, “Better living through bribery.”
I realize that baby sitters get sick and sometimes Grandma is not available, but shouldn’t there be a limit on bad child behavior? I expect to dine with children if I’m eating at Denny’s or Papa Ginos, but if the restaurant doesn’t have a children’s menu, isn’t that a clue? Recently a diner in Maine attracted public attention for asking a mother to remove her screaming two year old. I’m sorry to sound old and crotchety, but I’d pay extra to fly on a child-free airline flight or eat in a child-free section of a restaurant.
Have you ever experienced this? Would you pay extra to eat or fly child-free? How do you handle your child if he/she is misbehaving in public? What do you do if the child at the table next to you is having a complete meltdown and their parents are pretending it isn’t happening?
Dear Reader, I'm wondering, do you think my post is too negative?