Last week when I was vacationing with my family, I came across a sign that read:
NO HIGH CHAIRS
NO BOOSTER CHAIRS
Um…okay. I thought. I think we got it. Families with babies and toddlers, this isn’t the place for you.
But below that loud, unmistakable all caps announcement that young children aren’t allowed, lest there be any confusion, the sign said, “Children crying or making loud noises are a distraction to other diners, and as such are not allowed in the dining room.”
At first, I thought the sign was meant in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way. The restaurant was located in a family-friendly tourist area where there were lots of children. And wasn’t the sign stating the obvious? Aren’t all kids, by nature, a distraction? And what about all the distracting adults? If we’re going to start banning distractions, maybe we should start with the dickheads, assholes, and douchebags instead of kids who are being, well, kids.
I snapped a picture, and my son read the sign out loud.
“So they don’t want kids?” he asked.
“Nope, I guess not.”
“Well, kids are kind of…loud…and distracting.”
“Yeah, we are,” he said with a laugh. A loud laugh. It was more of a guffaw than laugh, really.
We kept walking, but I couldn’t get the sign out of my head. I was irked. What about the boozed-up adults wandering around these family-friendly tourist locations? What about the oblivious grown-ups who think nothing about pushing past a slow-moving toddler to get to the bathroom? What about the rowdy bachelor parties and the raunchy bachelorette parties that traipse around town like it’s their world and everyone else is just living in it? What about the loud assholes dropping F-bombs like it’s their job within earshot of my kids? (Oh wait, that’s me. Never mind.)
I’m not suggesting that my kids be exempt from these “no kids” policies, or that the policies shouldn’t exist. I understand the rationale. Kids, by nature, are a disruptive distraction. Just like not everyone wants kids at their wedding, not everyone is able to ignore a crying baby while they are sipping on their cabernet. Look, I can barely manage to finish a three-minute telephone conversation without being interrupted by my sons’ loud bickering, and I can’t cook a mac and cheese dinner without being distracted by their boisterous wrestling that looks more like feral cats in a street fight.
People want a calm and relaxed dining experience that lacks the chaos that children inevitably bring to the scene. And parents? Well, we just want to forget that we have children for a couple of hours so we can eat our crab cakes in peace and have a conversation that isn’t interrupted with a “Mo-om! He won’t stop touching me!”
But aren’t signs like this a little bit hypocritical? Kids are annoying, no doubt — especially my own. But it’s usually the adults who are the real distraction. It isn’t the rambunctious children; it’s the parents who think their misbehavior is cute and let them continue acting like assholes. It isn’t just the whiny kids who disrupt a meal; it’s also the whiny adults who complain about anything and everything. It isn’t crying babies who ruin the ambience of a family-friendly tourist location, but loud and obnoxious eyesore signs banning children.
It’s fine if you don’t want to have kids around, just don’t be a dick about it — or you are the distraction.