We are the kind of parents that did not take our daughter to a restaurant, even one that would be considered child friendly with the crayons and kid's menu, during her terrible two's. We couldn't handle the stress of keeping her in check and didn't think it was fair to impose her behavior upon other patrons. Now that she is four years old and under control, we take her out to restaurants more often, but we make sure that children are welcomed and that we go early enough not to bother couples on dates.
But after our brunch experience on Sunday, I think I may be on board with restaurants reserving the right to allow kids as patrons. We went to a local brunch place around our Chicago neighborhood that was recommended to us by another family with kids. We went right when it opened, so that the place wouldn't be too crowded. When we arrived, my daughter asked for crayons and the nice waitress behind the counter said she only had a pen and paper. (First sign that children were not their target market) Our girl was in her best behavior and the place was practically empty. But I kept noticing another waitress who was hoping we left as soon as we were done.
After an hour, Amelia's friend from school arrived with her mom to pick up some food. The girls started dancing and being loud and we immediately moved them out of the way of other customers and made sure they lowered their voices. The not-so-child-friendly waitress kept staring at the girls which made me more uncomfortable and more nervous about keeping them in check. After 20 minutes, my friend and her daughter were leaving and so I asked my husband to take Amelia out to the car, as well.
I went to the counter to ask for a take out menu,
"We don't have one here. It's on the website," said the waitress with a very serious face.
"Can I get something to sweep the mess the girls made on the floor?"
"No, we will take care of that," she told me as she waved me away.
I'm probably hyper sensitive about people being uncomfortable while dining with children. Remember, I didn't have a child for a VERY long time and completely understand that sometimes you just want a quiet meal with your significant other, without the screams of an unruly toddler. Heck, when I go out with my husband on our own, I don't like when they sit us next to the family with 3 children. But we go out in the evening to a grown up restaurant, I'm a lot more flexible if it's a breakfast or lunch place.
Right now, I'm at the point that if the restaurant or their staff would rather my child stay away, I'd like to know in advance so I can pick another place that will welcome our business. I won't be offended, they reserve the right of admission, and there are plenty of brunch places in the city with crayons and plastic cups I can visit. What I can't handle is the dirty looks and the rushed service after I paid $40 dollars for brunch and left you a nice tip. Ay Mama!