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Babies/Children in Restaurants (merged topic)


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#31 beans

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:35 AM

There's only so much a restaurant can do to impose the fundamentals of human civilization on its clientele.

BTW, that is one of the best lines I've read lately. :biggrin: Does that merely apply to children? No!


The US seems to be full of parents who think that thay can have children and still lead the lives they had when they were single. Inappropriate restaurants are just on aspect of that, along with dragging the kids out to the mall obviously well past their bedtimes and taking them to inappropriate movies...

I see this all of the time and wondered if I was the only one that thought the same too.


I agree with much of fifi's perspective as well.


While I do not work in fine dining, I find this as an interesting topic as I have attended to tables with unruly children that have disturbed many other dining patrons and have walked the tight rope dance of appeasing both groups to the satisfaction of this occasional problem. I've seen the gamut of the tired, crabby child to the well rested and energetic one that enjoys throwing everthing they touch, in every possible direction -- with oblivious parents smiling the whole way with questions of "Where is something for my child because he/she is hungry and cannot wait for the adult entrees to be finished and served to the rest of us!"

I find it astonishing that parents are taking their young children to restaurants such as Trotter's, FL, Daniel, etc. The child cannot appreciate such an experience and what fun is it with a plate of chicken tenders and a ramekin of honey dipping sauce served alongside with grand degustation menu beginning with Poached Poussin with Golden & Striped Beets, Terrine of Confit Leg & Scallions?

What are the children's menu offerings anyway? (as I do not have first hand experience -- so far, I only have cats and not children! :biggrin: )



edit: grammar :blink:

Edited by beans, 26 December 2003 - 08:42 AM.


#32 fresco

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:47 AM

Taking a very young child to a high end restaurant may not constitute child abuse, but it is cruel, thoughtless and inappropriate for the child and for the other diners. And why on earth would parents want to ruin their own night out by bringing their child along?
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#33 fifi

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:50 AM

I think that Alex has hit on how my thinking was headed. I don't tolerate disruptive behavior well from anyone, regardless of age, and would like to see it handled quickly by the management. As in... you're outta here. From the restaurant management point of view, this makes some business sense. You risk alienating the rest of the customers if the situation is not handled promptly. Just do the math.

You always have the risk of disruptive behaviour in any establishment that serves the public. The problem is, disruptive children in inappropriate settings is pretty predictable. Therefore, I can see the wisdon of a "No Children" policy. Like FG said, Little Lord Fauntleroy gets left out but, too bad.

Even if a separate "family room" is available, that shouldn't excuse the behavior of disruptive children. But I can see that that might be a temporary solution around the holidays when parents are more likely to trot out the whole family to a restaurant. I can see a situation where a restaurant with a "No Children" policy might be able to designate a day or two around the holidays as a "Family Day" and advertise that as such to patrons ahead of time and being sure to notify patrons that are making reservations... "Yes, Mrs. Gotrocks. We have a reservation available that day. But we do need to inform you that that day is our annual family day. Is that still acceptable to you?" I actually think I have seen something like that.
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#34 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:51 AM

Taking a very young child to a high end restaurant may not constitute child abuse, but it is cruel, thoughtless and inappropriate for the child and for the other diners. And why on earth would parents want to ruin their own night out by bringing their child along?

Exactly. I need to learn the art of brevity. :wacko: :biggrin:
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#35 Pan

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:55 AM

Taking a  very young child to a high end restaurant may not constitute child abuse, but it is cruel, thoughtless and inappropriate for the child and for the other diners. And why on earth would parents want to ruin their own night out by bringing their child along?

Exactly. I need to learn the art of brevity. :wacko: :biggrin:

Nah. Your contributions are always well thought-out, and it's nice to follow your thought process.

#36 therese

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:57 AM

Each of our two children accompanied me to high end restaurants once or twice when they were very young, basically under three months. They slept, nursed, slept, nursed...and we had lovely relaxing dinners. I remember one leisurely lunch with my two day old daughter with particular fondness. At that age infants are about as intrusive as hand luggage, certainlyl less trouble than many of my fellow diners.

Beyond that age (or whatever age the child is when he/she decides to wake up and notice the rest of the world), absolutely not. My children are now 10 and 13, but even then I wouldn't take the 10 year old to a really high end place because she wouldn't appreciate the food (despite her behavior being perfect, right down to correct use of a fish knife). My 13 year old, on the other hand, has developed an appreciation of really great food and would be great at Citronelle or any other high end place.
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#37 LaurieA-B

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 08:59 AM

Children tend to behave better when confronted by strangers than by their parents.  When in the same vicinity as crying, badly-behaved children, I will more often than not talk to them.  It tends to shup them up quite quickly, since they are usually quite surprised to hava a stranger speak to them.  When I say "talk to them" I do not mean (necessarily) in an angry or scolding manner.  If a child is throwing food around, for example, I might say, "Are you throwing food?  [child stops and stares] Do you like throwing food?  [child might nod] Other people here don't like it so much.  Maybe you should stop."  All said with a calm and light-sounding voice.  It works more often than not with most children, but there will always be those who will burst out crying, instead  :biggrin:

I don't think parents should take small children to high-end restaurants, and it is certainly appropriate for staff to ask parents to remove misbehaving children. I would be furious, however, if another diner took it upon him/herself to speak to my child about the child's behavior. You can speak to your waiter, you could speak directly to the parents if you felt comfortable doing so. But I do not think it is at all appropriate for you to intervene with a child when the parents are there. Even if you wished to kindly offer a pen and paper from your purse to distract the child, it should be offered to the parents first. Dealing with the child's behavior is the parent's role, not a stranger's.
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#38 Pan

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:02 AM

Laurie, I think all bets are off if the parent declines to exercise his/her reponsibility to control the child, though I do agree that the parents and not the child are really the ones at fault when a child is disruptive and not taken out of the room by the parents.

#39 hjshorter

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:24 AM

What about celebrities? What if Madonna or someone like that shows up with kid in tow? Mark, would Citronelle ask her to leave?

If a no kids rule is on place it should apply to everyone but surely these rules are broken all the time for famous people.
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#40 beans

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:34 AM

Dealing with the child's behavior is the parent's role, not a stranger's.

-and-

One thing to realize, in my experience a poorly behaved child in a restaurant is not a pleasant experience for the parents either.


True on both counts.

However what I've been witness to is an increased, general lack of the parents' interest in even noticing the child's inappropriate public behaviour. :angry:

:sad:

[again not in fine dining such on the level of the above aforementioned restaurants, but at moderate to high-ish end/better dining and anywhere else parents have children in tow.]

#41 robert40

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:51 AM

I just knew when I started to read this topic that it would be one that would turn my face beet red before I was done. As I do have very strong opinions on this subject. I believe we tend to see chicken tenders on childrens menu's in restaurants because we as parents have pretty much instilled in the mind of restaurant owners that this is what are children want to eat.
Pretty much my opinion is in the same ballpark as docsconz.
Should babys be in high end restaurants? Well that depends upon the parents. If you are the type of parent who believes that everybody around you should tolerate a crying baby while dining, then likely not. My youngest daughter Brianna, now two has already been to: Babbo, Django in Philly, when she was a infant. While most of the time she slept threw the meals, there were moments when she started to cry that I had to step outside to soothe her. But that is daddys job? Isn't it? If I wished to sit in a restaurant and ignore my crying child then maybe I should not of had children. My other children Robbie 13, and Renee 11, have been dining in fine restaurants most of their life. At Babbo my son started with the lambs tongue salad. Then went on to the calfs brain ravioli, and Rabbit alla Cacciatora, and loved every mouthful. He and I also dined at Blue Hill last year. Which was one of the finest meals we have ever had together. I have no doubt it was a outing with his dad that he will never forget. Dan Barber told me personally that it was a inspiration for him to see my son enjoying his meal so much. My son will also be my dining companion at Per Se when it opens, which we are looking forward too.
I work in a small restaurant in Saratogo, NY that the owner has taking alot of pride in the childrens menu which is not often seen. Not a chicken nugget in sight. If we do not teach are children about fine food and farm fresh ingredients then the next generation will know nothing other then McDonalds and Taco Bell.

RR

Edited by robert40, 26 December 2003 - 09:52 AM.

Robert R

#42 jhlurie

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:57 AM

Laurie, I think all bets are off if the parent declines to exercise his/her reponsibility to control the child, though I do agree that the parents and not the child are really the ones at fault when a child is disruptive and not taken out of the room by the parents.

Well, can we talk about babies in Movies too. What are these people thinking? I'm going to see "Return of the King" some time in the next few days and I'm fully expecting to see (and hear) crying babies. Talk about being cruel to both the kids and your fellow patrons... Actually, on the "higher end", I've had this happen to me at a Broadway show too.

Getting back to restaurants, what's really odd is the position this puts you in as an observer. If you say something to the parents, they look at you like you are some kind of monster. And I imagine it puts restaurant staff in an even worse position if you ask them to talk to the parents.

Actually, I kind of enjoying watching one person who came in with well behaved kids approach someone who's come with badly behaved kids. And one I run into a lot is where one parent is oblivious and the other peers around the room giving embarassed looks to people.

Recently, I recall a situation where one parent, and three others who looked like an uncle and grandparents were goading a kid to get up and run around the table in circles. The other parent kept trying to calm and sit the kid down and the other four people kept getting her up and coaxing her on. It was no excuse that this was, in fact, not a high-end restaurant. Frankly, there was no excuse for it at all.

I'm not a parent myself, but I'm a fairly active uncle who takes his nieces out all of the time (but no... not to high end restaurants). If they don't control themselves, believe me... they hear about it. It's worked to an extent where the older of them will comment on misbehaving kids in a restaurant herself, "Uncle Jon why is that boy being so noisy"?
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#43 LaurieA-B

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 09:58 AM

Speaking of babies and high-end restaurants, one of our Christmas presents was the book Feeding Baby by Joachim Splichal of Patina and Christine Splichal.
Hungry Monkey May 2009

#44 robert40

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:13 AM

[Quote] Taking a very young child to a high end restaurant may not constitute child abuse, but it is cruel, thoughtless and inappropriate for the child and for the other diners. And why on earth would parents want to ruin their own night out by bringing their child along?

WOW.
My face just went neon,Time for another cup of coffee. :angry:

Edited by robert40, 26 December 2003 - 10:53 AM.

Robert R

#45 SobaAddict70

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:36 AM

If you have EVER been trapped in an enclosed environment for more than an hour (oh, like a trans-continental airplane flight on Delta 2 years ago as was the case with me), you can guess what MY response would be.

My discman ran out of battery juice halfway through the flight and I was forced to endure the ninth circle of hell for at least three hours. :blink: :angry:

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#46 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:37 AM

If you have EVER been trapped in an enclosed environment for more than an hour (oh, like a trans-continental airplane flight on Delta 2 years ago as was the case with me), you can guess what MY response would be.

My discman ran out of battery juice halfway through the flight and I was forced to endure the ninth circle of hell for at least three hours. :blink: :angry:

Soba

That would make an excellent visual for a battery ad. :wink: :laugh:
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#47 deibu

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:41 AM

Although it's not a high-end restaurant, one of my friends works in a wine bar/tapas restaurant... They allow children but they don't provide child's seats in an effort to keep them out.

#48 Katherine

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:48 AM

Taking a very young child to a high end restaurant may not constitute child abuse, but it is cruel, thoughtless and inappropriate for the child and for the other diners. And why on earth would parents want to ruin their own night out by bringing their child along?

Consider this possibility:

It isn't even that these people don't *care*. In fact, they do care, and a lot. They just have different priorities from yours.

They are exercising "power" in their otherwise ineffectual lives by inconveniencing everyone around them who is not in a position to object. They get a thrill from the knowledge that their server will be on his/her hands and knees, cleaning up garbage off the floor after they leave. Or that their child was able to intrude on the privacy of other diners, and compromise their enjoyment. Their children are merely acting as willing surrogates for the parents.

And if anyone does object, the parents feign shock that anyone would want to stifle such a sweet, fun-loving child.

#49 tommy

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:52 AM

They are exercising "power" in their otherwise ineffectual lives by inconveniencing everyone around them who is not in a position to object. They get a thrill from the knowledge that their server will be on his/her hands and knees, cleaning up garbage off the floor after they leave. Or that their child was able to intrude on the privacy of other diners, and compromise their enjoyment. Their children are merely acting as willing surrogates for the parents.

that seems like a very harsh generalization. and one that is clearly inaccurate a lot of the time.

but i agree that they have different priorities than some others. but don't we all.

#50 Katherine

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 10:55 AM

They are exercising "power" in their otherwise ineffectual lives by inconveniencing everyone around them who is not in a position to object. They get a thrill from the knowledge that their server will be on his/her hands and knees, cleaning up garbage off the floor after they leave. Or that their child was able to intrude on the privacy of other diners, and compromise their enjoyment. Their children are merely acting as willing surrogates for the parents.

that seems like a very harsh generalization. and one that is clearly inaccurate a lot of the time.

but i agree that they have different priorities than some others. but don't we all.

People like this are surely not the majority, just the most irritating ones. They set a bad example for those that are merely easily led.

Having been married to a person who regularly pulled passive-aggressive stunts designed to inconvenience people, preventing them from objecting without looking bad, I have a little experience with the type.

Things like this happen.

#51 SethG

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:04 AM

Seth, as a musician, I disagree with the idea that kids shouldn't be brought to concerts. Kids are the audience of tomorrow and should be introduced to live music.

As a bad amatuer musician, I completely agree that children must be introduced to music as early and as often as possible, and I never meant to suggest otherwise. There are many concert settings designed with children in mind or held in places (i.e., outdoors) appropriate for children of any age. When I made reference to the "concert hall," I meant to evoke more formal concert settings. The concert I was remembering was a piano recital at Carnegie Hall. There was a young child who behaved remarkably, even astonishingly well. But he still fidgeted throughout the first half of the show, and often whispered this or that to his mother. These were distractions from Maurizio Pollini's wonderful performance, and I'll never get that performance back.

Sorry for the off-topic chat.
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#52 fresco

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:07 AM

One dining situation where children seem to fit in well is dim sum restaurants, especially the large places with a continuous flow of carts. There's enough general din that even if kids get noisy, it just blends in. And if a child starts to cry, a parent can take him or her outside for a while and resume eating later without missing much, if anything. But there is one very high end dim sum place in town, and I have never seen young kids there.
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#53 alacarte

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:12 AM

I work in a small restaurant in Saratogo, NY that the owner has taking alot of pride in the childrens menu which is not often seen. Not a chicken nugget in sight. If we do not teach are children about fine food and farm fresh ingredients then the next generation will know nothing other then McDonalds and Taco Bell.

RR

Robert, the no-chicken-nuggets kids menu sounds fascinating. Can you share a couple of items on the menu with us?

#54 tommy

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:14 AM

Having been married to a person who regularly pulled passive-aggressive stunts designed to inconvenience people, preventing them from objecting without looking bad, I have a little experience with the type.

Things like this happen.

perhaps you're overly sensitive to this type of thing then? we agree that it's certainly not the majority, and i can't imagine the percentage of people who are doing this as a "power" play is significant at all. probably about the same percentage as the people who drive SUVs because they have a small penis. it's an interesting theory, and yeah, maybe a few people with small penises have bought SUVs, but probably not as many as people want to think.

Edited by tommy, 26 December 2003 - 11:15 AM.


#55 fresco

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:24 AM

Although the anti-SUV lobby would have you believe that behind the wheel of every SUV is a prick.
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#56 fifi

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 11:26 AM

I just knew when I started to read this topic that it would be one that would turn my face beet red before I was done. As I do have very strong opinions on this subject. I believe we tend to see chicken tenders on childrens menu's in restaurants because we as parents have pretty much instilled in the mind of restaurant owners that this is what are children want to eat.
Pretty much my opinion is in the same ballpark as docsconz.
Should babys be in high end restaurants? Well that depends upon the parents. If you are the type of parent who believes that everybody around you should tolerate a crying baby while dining, then likely not. My youngest daughter Brianna, now two has already been to: Babbo, Django in Philly, when she was a infant. While most of the time she slept threw the meals, there were moments when she started to cry that I had to step outside to soothe her. But that is daddys job? Isn't it? If I wished to sit in a restaurant and ignore my crying child then maybe I should not of had children. My other children Robbie 13, and Renee 11, have been dining in fine restaurants most of their life. At Babbo my son started with the lambs tongue salad. Then went on to the calfs brain ravioli, and Rabbit alla Cacciatora, and loved every mouthful. He and I also dined at Blue Hill last year. Which was one of the finest meals we have ever had together. I have no doubt it was a outing with his dad that he will never forget. Dan Barber told me personally that it was a inspiration for him to see my son enjoying his meal so much. My son will also be my dining companion at Per Se when it opens, which we are looking forward too.
I work in a small restaurant in Saratogo, NY that the owner has taking alot of pride in the childrens menu which is not often seen. Not a chicken nugget in sight. If we do not teach are children about fine food and farm fresh ingredients then the next generation will know nothing other then McDonalds and Taco Bell.

RR

I am not sure why you are turning red?

You have spent a lot of time and effort with your children. I agree that dining with a well trained and disciplined child is a delight not often surpassed. From the time he was about 12, my son enjoyed being "in charge" of dinner when he, his older sister and I traveled together. He chose the restaurant, made the reservations and escorted "his ladies" to the table. He asked intelligent questions of the wait staff. We had intelligent discussions about the food. I think he also enjoyed the astonished looks of the staff and other diners. :laugh:

Now... If you had your kids into a restaurant before they were ready for that particular experience... and they caused a disturbance.. and you ignored it... and justified it as their getting "experience"... and I was there... You likely still have the dagger scars from my stares.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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#57 Mark Sommelier

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 12:18 PM

Well, here was the specific scenario last night: Couple number 1 arrives with infant, toddler and granny in tow. They are shown to a small semi-private room in the restaurant where the infant immediately starts wailing and the toddler starts unpacking toys on the floor and singing. Couple number 2 arrives, also with infant and toddler and granny. They are shown to an adjacent table. Mother comes flying to the hostess stand where she complains that the other children are making noise. She is then shown to another alcove in the restaurant where her children can now start wailing and singing without being bothered by the other children. At one point in the evening, it seemed the children at both tables were communicating in screams "I've got this part covered, too". The daddy in the main dining room picks up the infant and starts slowly strolling THROUGH THE RESTAURANT, oblivious to the 4 food runners, 6 waiters, 2 sommeliers, and other 80 customers. This is in contrast to the night before when an African diplomat brought his family, including 3 small children. They sat perfectly poised at the table. The maitre d' offered children items to the parents, pasta and such. He was astonished when the littlest boy said in perfect French "I want the lamb. I really like lamb". It was a rough night.
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#58 Katherine

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 12:20 PM

Having been married to a person who regularly pulled passive-aggressive stunts designed to inconvenience people, preventing them from objecting without looking bad, I have a little experience with the type.

Things like this happen.

perhaps you're overly sensitive to this type of thing then? we agree that it's certainly not the majority, and i can't imagine the percentage of people who are doing this as a "power" play is significant at all. probably about the same percentage as the people who drive SUVs because they have a small penis. it's an interesting theory, and yeah, maybe a few people with small penises have bought SUVs, but probably not as many as people want to think.

I think the SUV/penis analogy is not a good one. (Although, I have noticed that as SUVs gain greater market penetration, the drivers seem to becoming less aggressive and more passive-aggressive.) A better analogy is that of the SUV in the left (or center) lane driving at 50 mph, with the driver who gets aggravated that other cars pass on the right. Or the "friend" or associate who is always late and always makes you wait, because their own time is too valuable to be spent waiting. Or the person who savages a cashier because of the store's policies. Or someone who cuts you off to take a parking space, when there's a more convenient one they could have gotten, but that you can't get to.

I think that, according to their mental scheme, in doing all these things they get "points".

This is one reason why what seems to you to be not really so much fun (taking your own ill-behaved children out to a nice restaurant) might be plenty of fun for someone else.

#59 fresco

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 12:29 PM

I'm beginning to wonder if this is a cultural thing. Thinking back, I cannot recall one instance of small children in a high end restaurant in Canada or anywhere in Europe or Mexico. Or India.
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#60 fifi

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Posted 26 December 2003 - 12:35 PM

Well, here was the specific scenario last night: Couple number 1 arrives with infant, toddler and granny in tow. They are shown to a small semi-private room in the restaurant where the infant immediately starts wailing and the toddler starts unpacking toys on the floor and singing. Couple number 2 arrives, also with infant and toddler and granny. They are shown to an adjacent table. Mother comes flying to the hostess stand where she complains that the other children are making noise. She is then shown to another alcove in the restaurant where her children can now start wailing and singing without being bothered by the other children. At one point in the evening, it seemed the children at both tables were communicating in screams "I've got this part covered, too". The daddy in the main dining room picks up the infant and starts slowly strolling THROUGH THE RESTAURANT, oblivious to the 4 food runners, 6 waiters, 2 sommeliers, and other 80 customers. This is in contrast to the night before when an African diplomat brought his family, including 3 small children. They sat perfectly poised at the table. The maitre d' offered children items to the parents, pasta and such. He was astonished when the littlest boy said in perfect French "I want the lamb. I really like lamb". It was a rough night.

Um... 80 other customers versus 2 small groups that are a real PITA... Not much of a contest there. The one complaining about the other is a prime example of the self-absorbed navel-gazers I was talking about. And wandering through the dining room with a screaming baby? That would have been the last straw, if just on the safety issues. The kids playing on the floor aren't exactly a safety measure, either. I don't think I would WANT them to come back.

Also no mystery why the diplomat is a diplomat, is there? And he is obviously passing his skills along to his children. Admirable.
Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

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