I’ve been reading about how it’s becoming more popular to have kid-free restaurants and kid-free flights. Is the old adage, “children should be seen and not heard” becoming popular again? Since they can’t literally silence them, they are now choosing to force them out. And with them, their parents.
Let me back up. Before I had Annika, I was one of those people, complaining about the loud children running rampant in the restaurants and avoiding them in airports. I was not a fan of children. I totally get it.
When I was married and living in Japan, one our favorite restaurants was the officer’s club where they had a kid-free section. We’d wait an extra hour to sit in there, if necessary. Military bases are rampant with children, so it was a haven from the noisiness of the few restaurants to choose from.
I never considered it a form of discrimination. But I was recently on the other end of that kind of attitude. And I see just how wrong it is.
A playgroup, that Annika and I attend, was lambasted by the manager of a coffee house that advertises itself as kid-friendly. One morning, one of our members walked in the door and was met with a laundry list of complaints about how our children were too noisy, and disruptive to the other customers. She made it very clear that we were not welcome anymore.
This playgroup has been meeting at this coffee shop for about four years on a regular basis. Not every week, but during the summer months and too-cold winter months, it’s been our regular hangout. We’ve always been received warmly by the staff, until this particular manager came on board. We are paying customers and we buy food and drinks. The barista who is typically on duty during our usual playgroup said he enjoys the children, since he was one of nine children.
But since that morning a couple of weeks ago, we’ve stopped going. Several of us left nasty reviews on Yelp about the place. They have a kids’ section, and hold kid-friendly musical acts on Sunday mornings. This place is supposedly, kid-friendly. But one manager has derailed all that because she doesn’t like children being children.
But here’s the thing, we live in a society. Children are part of that society. We teach our kids that we don’t always get what we want. We teach our kids that sometimes we have to get along with people even when we don’t like them. We try to teach our kids compassion for other people, even when they are behaving in a manner that we don’t like.
Is the rule of society that when you’re a child you have to put up with other people you don’t like, but when you’re an adult, if you complain loudly enough and toss money at the problem, they will go away? Seems pretty backwards to me. Kids are the ones who aren’t mature. They shouldn’t have to be the ones who have to follow all the rules. We were all kids once.
If you want to look at it another way, I can remember a time in history when there were laws in this country that said certain people couldn’t eat in certain restaurants (and many other things).
Okay, that might be going a tad too far. But seriously, if restaurants and airlines start giving people the option to pay enough to avoid a certain group of people, then really, what is that? It’s discrimination.
Parents are isolated enough as it is. If all the airlines start forcing families to sit in their own sections, then does that mean we will have fewer flights to choose from? I’ve never been on a flight where there were more than three or four families with kids (and that’s being generous). Annika is typically well-behaved on flights. She cries when her ears pop, but overall, she’s a good passenger. Why should she be denigrated, along with her parents down to a second class level?
If this trend continues, will we be forced to the back of the planes?