Kristy and her daughter. Photo: Alyssa Bistonath
"There is no drawing at the table!" Startled, I looked up to see who had just said that. My daughter and I were waiting for friends at a now defunct west-end Toronto eatery. She was quietly drawing on a piece of paper. I turned around to see the restaurant owner glaring down at us from the kitchen.
Perplexed, I said "oh, ok" and had her put the paper on the empty bench seat beside her. "Yeah, drawing on the bench is even worse," he snarled. "If she gets crayon all over that bench seat then I have to get it cleaned."
I bit my tongue from remarking that I didn't realize he was running a museum. Living in Toronto, I have had my fair share of experiences at restaurants that aren't particularly skilled at serving kids, others that simply don't cater to families and some that are less than friendly when you wheel in the stroller and pull out the board books. One café in my hood even has a sign on the door that says if your kids can't stay in their seat, you will be asked to leave. I read that as "kids aren't welcome in these here parts," and I don't think I'm the only one as I've never seen a family eat there.
So when I read this morning about a Washington restaurant that gave a family a discount because the kids were so well-behaved, I was floored. "That's more like it," I thought. Why not reward good behaviour, rather than lump all children under the category of "screaming small people who get underfoot and wipe boogers on the walls"?
I work hard at teaching my daughter proper manners and respect. I'm tired of walking into a new restaurant and tensing up, wondering how they'll receive a family. Sure, I could take her to fast-food restaurants that specifically cater to children, but I'm a fast-food snob. I like good, fresh food. I like supporting small, local businesses. But I'm not going to give someone my money if they're rude to my kid.
Discount or no discount, I don't think parents and their offspring should be treated like an annoyance. Nor should moms and dads feel embarrassed when our kids act like kids. When a restaurant treats us well, I go back time and again. Perhaps if Precious Bench Man had been more welcoming to kids, his business would have survived.
Have you ever received rude service at a restaurant?
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