Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sign of the times

This is quite possibly my favourite story of recent weeks. With the War on Smoking all but won, at least in Canada, what could possibly be next? Why, The War on Brats, of course. I'd link to the story, but the Detroit News has sadly taken the story down from the site. There is an exerpt from the story here.

The gist of the story is this. The owner of a cafe in Chicago got tired of parents bringing their children and letting them run amok. They were getting in the way of customers, banging into things and screaming at the top of their lungs while the parents normally ignored them.

So he put up a very polite sign asking parents to control their kids and for them to please keep their kid's voices at a reasonable level. He also reminded children to use their "indoor voices".

The reaction was divided. A lot of the customers loved it. Others boycotted the cafe and threatened legal action, upset with insinuation that they were somehow bad parents.

There was a sidebar in the story that several restuarants in the U.S. are trying out non-children sections of restaurants. It is, however, meeting with resistence from parents upset at being marginalized.

Personally, I love the idea of putting up signs remind parents to please keep their children under control. I'm not saying all parents let their kids run wild in restaurants. And sometimes, despite best efforts, the child is going to act up and make noise.

But the parents who just sit and clamly sip coffee while their son or daughter runs like a mad person around the restaurant, they bug the hell out of me. I worked as a waiter for five years. Between that and all the restaurants and coffee shops I've been to, I've seen enough of this behaviour to last a life time. I don't know if myself and Cathy will ever have kids, but we would never let them run rampant through a restaurant. It's not teaching the child anything about restraint and behaving themselves.

So yeah, stick up the sign. Encourage the wait staff to have a word with parents if the kid is behaving really badly (but let's not be fascist about it. If there is a bit of fussing or crying and the parent is working hard to remedy the situation, leave them be). There's nothing wrong with a bit of polite encouragement asking parents and their children to be polite and respectful. If you can't do that, well, maybe you shouldn't be out in public. If you get upset about it, then maybe the truth that your kid is behaving like a brat hurts.

I think the signs will be good for the health of the country. Lord knows my blood pressure spikes when I see parents and kids like this.

Last 5 on iPod
1. This boy - Franz Ferdinand (You Could Have It So Much Better With...)
2. Goodbye rock and roll band - The Novaks (The Novaks)
3. Don't know why - Norah Jones (Come Away With Me)
4. Love is hell - Ryan Adams (Love is Hell, Part 1)
5. See you when you're 40 - Dido (Life For Rent)


Kirsten said...

I tried out a new deli/coffee shop down the street the other day. The owner's kid was running a small remote control car around the store. It bumped into my foot, and I looked up and smiled at the kid, who smiled back. A Kodak moment.

But it stopped being cute after I'd been bumped three or four more times. I saw at least one more innocent bystander get hit, too. It got old quickly.

You'd think it would occur to the owners that having their kid run a car repeatedly into the customers is not good business. I probably won't go back there often (though granted, that has just as much to do with them not really having anything I wanted).

Scotty said...

I like the idea of a child-free zone in public establishments. Child bearing, like smoking, is a life decision. I should not have to pay for the mistakes of others.