Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Parental Desperation

I've eaten out on three different occasions, recently, in which my dining experience was seriously disrupted by the loud, high-pitched, and perpetually active voices of young children.

There are enough elements that can go wrong in an evening at a restaurant. Poor service, poorly-informed wait staff, flavorless food, cramped seating, loud adult patrons, and so many other things can chip away at the pleasure I hope to get from paying someone else to prepare and serve food as I enjoy a bit of conversation with my dining partner(s). I don't need any help from screaming young'uns.

Now, I've seen bad-ass kids before. I've seen parents let their kids get away with running around and all sorts of annoying things, but constant screaming seems to be the flavor of the week and the parents aren't doing a doggone thing to curb this behavior. Kids will be kids, for sure, but I thought adults were supposed to curb the more outrageous behavior with suggestions and positive reinforcement.

What I'm seeing more of, these days, are people who seem so damned glad to get out of the house that they'll put up with not being able to find or afford a baby-sitter and are willing to sacrifice portions of their and our senses of hearing. From what I can tell, these people don't want to be parents, in those moments.

The wait staff doesn't say a damned thing to them because they don't want to lose potential customers. In my experience, what they WILL DO, though, is pass on the fact that other customers are complaining. I wish I'd remembered that, these particular evenings, but sometimes behavior seems so obviously wrong that speaking up just intuitively seems like an act of futility.

Now, we've got a brand-new restaurant that serves some of the best ribs I've ever had in my life, but I hesitate to return there (or some other places) because, simply put, the problem with eating in public... is the public.

Ahhh. I just needed to let that out.


Luke Cage said...

I don't know about screaming children man, but not too far back, the wife and I were at a restaurant and I asked her in a light voice, "who's sitting behind me?" She whispered back that it was a little boy. He was constantly jumping up and down and shaking the backrest of my seat. I let it go since it was just a little kid and he knew better, but I had a breaking point. Shawty, just never reached it. But I feel where you're coming from man.

Shai said...

I feel ya, West. As a parent, I did not have that problem. I did not really start taking my daughter regularly to restauants until she was 8 or 9.

I do have issues with people who blatatntly let their kids take over places. I get it but don't get how some tune out their kids noise like it is nothing.

I also understand wanting to get out not be able to get a babsitter and taking a child out. I just did not have an unruly child. I would have tore that azz up if my daughter ran and screamed around some place and she knew it. LOL.

Then again I bet the waitstaff would say something if you spanked your child in the place. LOL.

West said...

Ha! You're probably right.

Unlike some folks, if I'm in a movie theater and someone's baby starts whining and crying, I don't (usually) have a fit. People have babies. That's why there ARE people. :p If we don't try to tolerate the things babies do then parents will never have lives... which isn't exactly fair.

My concern mostly has to do with how the parent responds to the child's behavior. When the theater-going parent takes his/her baby out of the theater until s/he calms down, it's all good.

I've never had a kid, but I figure it's not always easy to secure a baby-sitter and sometimes you've gotta look at something besides the same four walls. It'd help if the childless among us would try to be a little patient and understanding.

By the same token, I hope that they're considering OUR concerns, as well. I don't pay my money to hear screaming, feel someone kicking my seat, or for some rugrat to run in front of the wait-staff, causing them to drop my food on the floor.

Musta have-a BAlance, Daniel-san.

Miz JJ said...

That is why I try to go to high end restaurants or restaurants that do not have child friendly menus. I hate going out and seeing screaming children. Just because you chose to reproduce why should I be punished? Also, children can only go out for a finite amount of time. Stop dragging your children out for five hours and then wonder why they are grumpy and tired. That is too long for them. Max amount of time they can keep going is 1 hour maybe 2 if you promise them some McDonalds.

West said...

Oooh. Good point.

Liz said...

The worst is going to someplace (like Cheesecake Factory) where you have to wait an hour for a table, you get in there with your kids and have schooled them on how to behave...and then the wait staff and other customers come over and bother your kids and try to get them to misbehave. I've had adults trying to play peek-a-boo with my boys, sending dessert to our table and snapping uninvited camera-phone pictures of my boys. It's infuriating because I'm hard-core about them behaving and we have a rule that if they can't behave, we leave... but half the adults in the place have atrocious manners...worse than most kids I've seen!

West said...

You must have some devilishly cute young'uns! I'd probably be tempted, myself, but I don't approach or snap a pic of anyone's child without permission.

But yeah, there are definitely some adults who either outgrew their "home training" or never received any.

Anonymous said...

Sure kids will be kids but a parent has to step up and take care of business. When my guys were babies and they went threw the crying / screaming stages and I did all I could short of hurting them I would just get a doggy bag and bounce. I always try to consider how I would feel if I was a patron trying to enjoy a decent meal and somebody's brats were disturbing me. The worst if the movies. Why do people take babies into R rated flicks and expected them to sit still and be quite for two hours. Idiots. No only is that irresponsible but it's selfish.