A few months ago, my mother and I went shopping and grabbed lunch at the local Olive Garden – which was lovely. (I couldn’t stop myself from making an Old School reference there!) We had Charlotte with us, and I was armed with a high chair cover, placemat, snacks, and a sippy cup. She was just discovering her voice at that time, and spent lunch randomly squealing and giggling. We thought it was adorable. A couple sitting near us did not, and spent lunch glaring at us.
I was baffled by this reaction, for several reasons. First, it’s lunch. Seriously. Second, she was not upset or crying. She was making a little noise, but no more than a normal adult’s conversation or laughter. And it was happy noise. Heaven forbid a baby laugh out loud during lunch at the Olive Garden. Color me surprised.
While most people look at Charlotte and smile, make faces, and wave – we do occasionally get “why is that baby here” glares. I never understood this reaction. Then, I read about Brat Bans – and the growing movement to keep kids out of public places. Savino wrote about it over at Travel and Leisure. Klara wrote about it on AdWeek. Weiss recently came out with an article on the topic over at Shine from Yahoo. Kids are actually being banned from public places, such as restaurants, stores, and parks. Klara mentioned in his article that there’s even an entire village in the Scottish Higlands with a no kids allowed policy. Seriously.
I understand leaving your kids at home if you’re going to a fancy restaurant for dinner, and I get adults only vacations and resorts. I do not understand this growing movement to keep children completely out of sight. In Klara’s article, he points out the large number of empty nesters – who also have a lot of money to spend. We all know that the world is all about who has the money and who is spending it.
Do you want to know what I think? (Pssst – I’m going to tell you anyways!) I think that children learn what they live. If they are never allowed in public, they will never learn how to act in public. In order for our little ones to grow into well behaved children, they need to see what that looks like. They need adults to model this behavior, and need to practice it as well.
Perhaps the problem isn’t children. It’s screaming children. Maybe it’s screaming children, who have parents without the sense to address the behaviors when they are becoming obnoxious. To those parents (and you know who you are) – Cut it out! You are making the rest of us look bad! Have some common sense, and leave if your kiddo is having a rough time.
I also have a message for the mean, old, baby haters. I have a baby. She is almost a year old, and is my whole world. While I don’t take her out with us for a night on the town, I do take her most other places. She goes to the grocery store, post office, drug store, shoe store, and wherever else I happen to be. She goes to the mall and out to lunch, and sometimes even dinner. She is generally well behaved in public. In the rare moments when she is not, I am not afraid to leave. I will leave a full shopping cart in the store, and I will toss some money on the table and walk out of a restaurant. This is because I have common sense. So, baby haters, glare away. I am still taking my child out in public. If you don’t like it, you can stay home.