Controversy recently ignited when the owner of a diner in Maine went ballistic on a screaming toddler.
Many people sided with the owner, apparently buying her assertion that the parents weren't parenting their kid or taking into account how badly she was disrupting everyone else's meals. I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that if the toddler was really ruining meals, her mom's and dad's meal was casualty number one. Nobody is more stressed out by a misbehaving kid than that kid's parents.
Of course, the whole situation could have been avoided if the diner had copied the California restaurant that implemented a "no-loud kids" policy.
To refresh your memory, last August, controversy ignited (so much controversy igniting!) when a popular Northern California restaurant posted a sign aggressively banning unruly children and babies from their establishment.
It might surprise you to know that even though I'm a parent I'm a big fan of this policy, and not just because it might have prevented the Maine debacle. I bet half the people who applauded the diner owner have kids of their own too!
Here's the funny thing about parents: we hate kids.
Let me clarify: notwithstanding the fact that I joke a lot about hating my own kid, I love him more than anything and will not hesitate to go full Jake Gyllenhaal in Southpaw on you if you attempt to mock him, or harm him, in any way. And I'm sure most parents feel the same about their children.
But that doesn't mean we love your son. Or your daughter.
Becoming a parent changes you. Before I had a kid of my own, not only did I find it impossible to empathize with a harried mom or a stressed dad trying to control a tantrum-ing toddler -- shut that baby UP! -- I didn't even bother to try to sympathize with them. No, I just blamed them, for not being able to control their kids, for being shitty parents, for bringing such an obnoxious, ungrateful kid into the world. It was naive and intolerant and pretty gross.
Once I had an obnoxious, ungrateful, unruly kid of my own to contend with, I woke up: kids are the problem. They suck. And no kids suck more than Other People's Kids.
I don't want to be around your kids. (I often don't want to be around my kid!) I'll tolerate them, and if they're acting up, I'll even empathize with what you're going through because I've been through it myself, but that doesn't mean I'll be happy about it. When I have a chance to get out without mine, Mom and Buried and I certainly don't go to Chuck E. Cheese. Parents deserve time away from kids as much as non-parents, if not more so, and the existence of a restaurant or two that guarantees that is a good thing.
You think kids are annoying at restaurants and on planes and in stores? We live with them. We deal with their bullshit every day. No one needs a break from them more than us. Despite all the controversy and uproar, I bet that NorCal restaurant has been JAMMED with parents since they implemented their policy - parents who left their kids with a sitter and ran to the childless oasis it has likely become.
(I know it's hard to believe, but parents and non-parents are both people, and while neither group deserves special treatment, both groups have equal rights. I still remember what it was like to not have kids, and one of the perks is not having to be around them. I get that. But we can all get along and co-exist and even share space in public places, like airplanes and restaurants and movie theaters. The key is to not be dicks to each other.)
So I'm all for the occasional eatery that bans children (especially if it decreases the odds of a stranger screaming in my son's face and calling him a monster. Only I get to do that!) Sure, it can be a little inconvenient, since neither babysitters nor the money they cost grows on trees. But this is America, we have a lot of options. After exercising the one that allows me to have as many kids as I want, I can accept the fact that some people want to live without them, even if it's just for a few hours.
More power to the owners of that California restaurant. The owner of that (in)famous diner should follow suit.