September 16, 2011

Parenting In Public

I was watching Dr. Phil last night and it was an episode about restaurants and airlines banning children. It was a {somewhat} healthy debate for and against companies having the right to refuse to allow children in their place of business.
The story developed because a restaurant was tired of screaming children disrupting their guests and therefore posted a sign saying they would no longer accept children under the age of 6. Also a woman was kicked off of a flight due to her child "happily screaming" over his excitement from being on an airplane.
At first my mom brain was all "WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?!?!?" I mean I didn't even think it was an option to BAN children from anywhere, they are humans too for crying out loud!
And then my normal brain turned on.
Now I'm not saying I agree, because I 100% do NOT. If a restaurant, or anywhere for that matter, asked me to leave due to my child well...words would be said and they would not be pleasant ones.
HOWEVER, how many times have you been on a plane, at a restaurant, out to a movie and heard a screaming baby and thought "Oh Hell"? Been there done that and you have to, admit it. That is until I had a child.
When we took Kendall on her first plane ride at 5 months old I got the looks. I got the "Oh great a BABY" eye roll and "I hope they don't sit next to me" body language. And I felt this big walking to my seat. Well my angel child proved them wrong and barely made a peep for 2.5 hours, so there!
But on the flip-side, I know my boundaries. I would NEVER take her to a high scale restaurant, one that appeals to a more sophisticated crowd. Hell I even feel weird in those types of restaurants. I would also NEVER take her to a movie unless or until she could sit still. And the minute she made a peep? We'd leave.
We have been out to dinner, as recently as this past weekend, where Kendall hasn't been on her best behavior. We try to be prepared. We bring the Cheerios, the binky, the sippy cup, Blankie, and baby flash cards on the iPhone, but sometimes even that doesn't work and she just doesn't want to be there. In those situations, as hard as it is, we take turns. J will eat while I tend to her, keep her calm, take her out of the situation if necessary and then it's my turn. Sure it's not ideal but it's life. I'm not going to let my child disrupt another persons meal and experience because I wan to eat a hot meal with my husband that I don't have to clean up after. Thankfully that doesn't happen often but it has and in that moment I feel like the worst mother award should just be handed over to me.
But if someone ever came up to me during one of those moments and told me I had to leave, oh you bet your bottom dollar that'd be IT. We'd never step foot in that place again. Mark my word.
So now, instead of giving tot-toting parents the side eye, I pray that they seat them next to us. Because as long as there's another child for Kendall to watch we can eat, at the same time, and even enjoy dessert.


  1. True dat homie! I look for other babies too! Totally means we can sit longer. Or adults that are willing to flirt with my child. That helps too.

  2. I watched that episode too and the part that pissed me off the most was the random guy they interviewed on the street who said that babies are like dogs and shouldn't be brought into restaurants!

    I'm in TOTAL agreement with your post. I know my baby's limitations and there are certain places we just don't go.

    What we're teaching our children is they are second class citizens and I'm not ok with that.

    Great post!

  3. My kids are usually really good on airplanes, but last time we flew my youngest (who was about 1.5 at the time) was sick and miserable and her ears were hurting. So yes she cried. I did everything I could to keep her calm and quiet, but the jerk in front of me kept turning around and giving me SCATHING looks throughout the entire flight. I wanted to ask him what the heck he wanted me to do - I couldn't exactly step off the plane for his convenience. Kids make noise. Deal with it. I do my best to keep them well-behaved and courteous, but they're not required to be silent anymore than adults are. Once in awhile we're in a situation like I was in on the plane, and there's not a whole lot that can be done about it. Now if one of my kids was just randomly screaming and being obnoxious, I would quickly nip that in the bud.

    That said, I'm with you on the restaurants. Many times my husband or I have had to walk outside with a crying baby, and at times have our meal boxed up to eat at home. While I'm not going to forbid my kids from making any noise or having any fun, there is a line - and when it's crossed they simply have to be removed from the situation if they won't behave or quiet down.

  4. Okay, I know I'm gonna be hated on it for this, but I'll say it: I pretty much agreed with that episode. (All the "you"s to follow are a general "you" and not a specific "you.")

    I *have* kids...and I hate hate hate flying on a plane with kids. I know everyone says, "Oh, but my little Suzy is an angel," but the reality is, I have yet to fly with angelic little Suzy. I don't so much have an issue with babies. Don't get me wrong, they still annoy the hell out of me, but I know there's not much the parent can do about it. It's the toddlers that drive me up the wall. If you child is cabable of talking, he's capable of listening. If you can't make him listen that's YOUR problem as a parent. I, as a fellow passenger, should not be punished for your inability to parent. If he can't listen to you when you say, "Tommy, stop kicking the back of the seat," then you shouldn't be taking him on a plane. I know YOU think he's just darling. But if you can't control him, it is completely unfair to force a bunch of strangers to put up with him in a tight space for an extended period of time. Because you're right: just as you can't get up and take him off the plane, *I* can't get up and walk away from the screaming.

    And as a former waitress, I have pretty strong feelings about kids in restarants, too. If you can't keep them quiet, then don't bring them out. Again, babies are basically exempt. It's when you start hitting the toddler years that I get much less sympathetic. And you want to know what my biggest pet peeve is? CRACKERS. Babies don't EAT crackers. They SMASH crackers and they throw the crumbs all over the floor and the shove the crumbs into the booths.

    I don't blame the kids; I blame the parents. Look, I have kids. I know how they can be. But if you know that little Tommy can't sit still for 10 minutes, let alone 2 hours, then for the love of God, don't bring him to a restaurant and make ME listen to him scream. It's not MY fault that you're a shitty parent.

    This is one of those things I have strong feelings about. I think that too many parents are too concerned about their child's feelings and self-esteem and yada yada to actually *parent* their child.

  5. Wow, Amanda is fired up. Can we remember that sometimes people HAVE to fly. I agree about the seat kicking thing, but I will never side eye a parent with a misbehaving toddler after what my sister-in-law's nephew has been through. He was diagnosed with leukemia at 2 and it came back around age 3. He is a great kid but he has to be on steroids sometimes and it is super hard to discipline a kid on steroids. So maybe next time a kid is kicking your seat on the plane ask yourself if you would be just as mad if you knew he was on that plane to get a bone marrow transplant or go on a make a wish cruise.

  6. Hi! I'm a new reader and just wanted to say that I loved this post. YOu are so right! I always try to cut parents with screaming little ones some slack. Lord knows I've been there as a nanny or with my nephew before. And I'm sure I'll be there again with my own babies {someday}. I like how you talked about being considerate of the others around you - to me that's more what matters than having a perfectly silent child..just knowing the parents are making an effort.


  7. This is a great post! I wish we lived in OH (or you guys lived here) so we could all eat together - A and KP could keep each other entertained all night long! We actually went through this whole song and dance yesterday at lunch when the husband was trying to be sweet and brought A to eat with me. Let's just say it was a loooong lunch! :)

  8. Ditto Meagan--you just don't know the situation. Maybe the kiddo is autistic. Maybe the kiddo is on steroids to fight cancer. You just don't know.

    A little kindness and understanding goes a long way people.

  9. LOVE this. I never have issues with children in public, and have never had an outing ruined by a child. Have I had outings ruined by parents who are terrible to their kids? Hell yes I have.

    And I agree with the other commenters about children on a plane. People have to understand that children have to fly sometimes, too. Planes don't always equal vacation and fun times.

  10. I think you've got the right idea!

  11. I'm pregnant with my first and I saw a part of the Dr. Phil show that you're talking about. There are "no young children allowed" policies in several restaurants in my town and it's made its way onto the local news here before. With that said, I've obviously never been in a restaurant when the screaming/misbehaving child is my own, but I can totally respect that people want to go have a meal and not have to do so in the presence of young children. However, I like to think that if hubby and I ever do go out to a nice dinner and, for some reason, have our daughter in tow that we'll request to have our meal to-go the minute that she starts acting up. But I personally feel that if I'm going out to dinner I'd like to have a sitter/grandparent/aunt/uncle/good friend watch my daughter for an hour or two so I can enjoy my night along with my fellow patrons.

  12. I can totally see this from both sides. I have a child, but I am not a "kid person" per se. Meaning, I think there is a time and place for them. I would never take my toddler to a fancy restaurant or a quiet movie. I will take her to Chili's. If she starts to act up, we're out of there because I know how much I hated having my meal interrupted. Fortunately, that has only happened once. Apparently we eat out a lot because she knows how to act. ;-)

    on the flip side; sometimes people need to chill the hell out. Even the most perfect parent can not control a child every single second. They are kids. Take a valium, or a drink. Just relax. Because I guarantee the parent is doing everything they can. No parent should be told they can't go somewhere because of a child. Its a kid; not TB. Let someone tell me k can't do something because of E. I will lose it on them.

  13. From the kidless side- I can see both too. I think it really is about parents knowing their child and the child's limits. And being considerate of others. But the airplane thing- I really think they should have "kid friendly" flights so that all the screamers can be together and the kidless can avoid those flights. Being stuck on a plane with a screaming kid CAN be AWFUL. Or it can be fine. But then again air travel is like that in a lot of ways. You can get stuck next to a talker or some huge person who is totally infringing on your (very limited) personal space. You lost a lot of rights travelling via commercial airline, but it's sometimes so worth it. I say- don't be afraid to give a miserable kid drugs! Benadryl for everyone!