A recent story in the news made my blood boil! t was about a woman who had been refused service in a restaurant. Was she drunk? No. Did she have an ASBO? No. What was her ‘crime’? She had a baby with her. The audacity of that woman to bring a child out in public! I think not.
The restaurant owner believed that the child would disrupt the peace and tranquility within his eatery. He assumed his customers would find the child’s presence irritating. Perhaps he was right but then perhaps he and those potentially complaining customers are also the same people who complain the loudest about the lack apparent of social skills in youth of today.
I have been in similar situations myself on many occasions. I have taken my children into cafes and immediately the staff have let fly with the filthy looks. My children and I are not foul mouthed, filthy, stinking or questionably dressed but our presence is demonstrably offensive to some. I used to be bothered by it. I felt defensive of my children knowing that they did not deserve such prejudice.
Then one day it occurred to me that the filthy looks say absolutely nothing about my kids and I but demonstrate beautifully how shallow, petty and bad mannered the dagger throwers are. My children do not willfully or deliberately make others uncomfortable or hurt their feelings, but these customers and staff do. Which of us is more offensive?
I do consider the environment which I take my kids and avoid places where childhood exuberance could be problematic. I am not oblivious or disrespectful to those who just want a peaceful dining experience. By the same token however, those diners should not expect to rule the roost in every establishment. From cafes to supermarkets, doctor’s waiting rooms to buses. Parents do on occasion need to visit businesses where the sprogless also attend and it would be nice if we could do so without wrinkled nosed sarcasm or being treated like the equivalent of a bottle of ketchup in a 5* restaurant.
|Y Pantri, Denbigh|
I am happy to say that we have found a particular place which is an exception. Y Pantry in Denbigh High Street is a divine little coffee shop! Every Saturday, while my daughter attends Stagecoach, my son and I have a little routine which revolves around a visit to Y Pantry. For more than a year now, we have been welcomed not only by staff but the regular customers too. Although it may not seem much, I credit our weekly visits with transforming my son from an extremely shy boy into a confident and social child with ever improving table manners.
It started out with my insistence that he choose his own food and drink. The staff, though amused, were always courteous about his strange orders such as two sausages and five slices of cucumber. Next it was his responsibility to choose our seats, arrange the cutlery, pour the milk, stir in sugar and tidy up spills. Pretty soon he was happy to go to the bathroom alone and even mastered the soap dispenser. There is a security camera trained on certain tables which he believes is looking for children with good manners so he behaves delightfully.
Fellow diners always give him a smile but his favourite part is when he goes to pay the bill by himself. He feels so grown up! His confidence has built up so much and has spilled out into his daily interacting with both grown-ups and peers.
|The ‘kiddie manners’ detective camera|
Evil eye diners take note please – Young children NEED to be introduced to these kinds of atmospheres! How else can they be expected to learn social etiquette? Rather than sneering at parents, you should be commending their efforts since it would be so much easier to shove chips onto our kids laps whilst they watch TV!
Yes there have been times when my kids have been loud in public. My daughter loves an audience held captive so she can sing till their ears bleed and there have been occasions when I have had to separate my son’s hands from his sister’s hair; I find distraction techniques a reliable way of diffusing hysterics.
Great Britain is apparently the only country in Europe where the saying ‘Children should be seen and not heard’ is voiced. Disgraceful! I agree there are times when other people’s children are so annoying that you have to grip your chair for fear you may just drop kid the little squit out the door, closely followed by a disinterested mother, but does this give anyone the right to alienate parents and make an already tough job even harder?