Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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Children in Restaurants (Or, Mr. Rowley, Your Blog Stinks)

Mr Rowley, I will be sure to never read your blog, 
nor follow you on Twitter, 
but I can feel free to say that 
your blog stinks, 
as do your tweets. 

~ S_Templar
San Diego Union Tribune commenter

I wrote in a recent San Diego Union Tribune article that I'd rather see a dog loose in a restaurant than children. This is true, but the operative word in the sentence is neither dog nor children. It is loose.

Clearly, older children who have been taught civility, table manners, and inside voices are not what I'm talking about, nor am I opining on those who color quietly or eat their meals in peace with their families. They can't in any meaningful way be said to have been let loose in a restaurant.

The very young, however, are inherently problematic. Admittedly, children do exist who are quiet, curious, polite little angels, even at a young age. But they are rare. Teething babies wail. Toddlers throw tantrums. Invariably, some have full-blown, red-faced meltdowns. I do not blame children who aren't in control of themselves; they are, after all, children. If they were in control, they could hold down jobs — or at least make me a respectable bourbon old fashioned.

I do, however, heap contempt on parents who don't understand — or don't care — that children who haven't been taught how to behave have no place in restaurants that cater to adults.

You know the children I mean — the loud-talkers; the screamers; those who scamper around the place while guardians seem oblivious to their kids' actions (or safety); the throwers of food; the interrupters and squealers; the climbers of booths; the little Hessians making a grab for something on your table; those floor mongrels egging on younger siblings to crying jags; the off-balance simpleton who quietly stares while digging in his nose as if a golden ticket to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory were buried deep in its recess.

McDain's Restaurant and Golf Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania recently banned kids under the age of six. This is an extreme measure, but to owner Mike Vuick, I say: bravo, sir. I myself frequent no-kid joints all the time.

They're called bars.

Goes well with:


Hunter said...

How could anyone argue with the point you are trying to make? It seems everyone who responded to the "your blog stinks" guy has your back, Matt. Keep preaching the truth.

Matthew Rowley said...

I hear you, Hunter. I actually read the "your blog stinks" lines aloud to the family. We all had a big laugh. It's just a preposterous, emotional — and juvenile — reaction. I don't have any kids, obviously, but if I did, there's no way they would get to come to nice places until they'd shown consistently that they could handle less formal settings.

Unknown said...

Actually I MUCH prefer the dogs in France- Much better behaved,You will also no doubt notice they leave the kids outside and bring the dogs in.
( Another useful tip is if a bar or restaurant has a resident dog, look at the size and breed. The places that are a little rougher tend toward very large dogs like mastiffs, mutant bulldogs of great size or a German Shepard. They tend to use them as bouncers.)
I also made the mistake once of commenting to an ex girlfriends about her rearing of her offspring ( later known as Harry the Feral Child) and comparing him to to a rotweiller - that you needed to get get them trained by a certain age or that was it - except with a rottweiller they could ( and did in the case of a breeder I knew) put them to sleep .

Denise fike said...

As a mother of two gentlemen , Hunter and Tyler,who were once well behaved children, I totally agree with you!

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you. I mean, would I get hammered and loud in Chuck-e-Cheese?

Ruby said...

Love this article. A little harsh but so true!

LeBeau said...

Got to tell you Rowley, I couldn't agree more. And now I even have one!

As loving, nurturing parents, we can't wait until she's a little older so we can ditch her on a more regular basis to enjoy some good meals out. Why in the world would people even want to bring their kids? Leave them at home with a sitter. Trust me. Everyone will have more fun.

Matthew Rowley said...

A followup comment I made in the U-T:

"Do I remember what it was like to be a child? For the most part, yes. Do I hate children? Good lord, no. Not all of them, anyway. If I did, I would not have spent years as curator of a children's museum — where, by the way, children were free to romp and squeal, to play, to learn about the world around them by touching, grabbing, pulling, climbing: all the things that are expected and designed to happen in a children's museum...but that have absolutely no place in a restaurant that caters to adults."

I also used to volunteer at the Children's Center for the Visually Impaired in Kansas City. Truly, honestly, I don't have anything against children. Clearly, their parents are another matter.

Denise ~ you have done an admirable job with your two boys. Charming gentlemen, both of them.

LeBeau ~ First and foremost, congratulations on the wee one. Second, it doesn't surprise me that a practical man such as yourself has the sense to get a sitter.

Ruby ~ Thanks for the link. I had a great time reading the comments.

Chris ~ As much as I may prefer dogs in some situations (bars certainly qualify), the grocery store is still one place I raise an eyebrow if I see a pooch. In fact, a local grocery both allows non-service dogs in the place AND has high liquor prices. This is why it's rare to see me there.

filipino women said...

Very good post. I always admire parents when I see their kids who have good manners in a restaurant. I always believe that its a matter of training, and training should start in the house.