Friday, September 10, 2010

Whining like children

Should restaurants ban screaming children? One has:

On an airplane, in a movie theater or in a restaurant, the shrill sound of a childish voice raised in distress can resemble nails across a blackboard — especially when it’s not your child. Now one North Carolina eatery has drawn a line in the sand by posting signs prohibiting children’s uproar.

“Screaming Children Will NOT Be Tolerated!” say placards posted at the Olde Salty restaurant in Carolina Beach. N.C. And while the signs may seem to be telling some parents their patronage is unwelcome, restaurant owner Brenda Armes said it’s actually been a business boon.

“It has been a good thing for us,” Armes told NBC affiliate WECT. “It has brought in more customers than it has ever kept away.”

Indeed, a first-time diner at the Olde Salty told WECT he embraced the signage. “It’s not very enjoyable when you hear a bunch of kids screaming,” Gary Gibson said. “It’s nice to see a sign like that up.”

But one mom of an autistic child, Kelly Chambliss, thinks the sign is just ugly discrimination:

Armes said she told Chambliss: “Autism is not a word on that sign, ma’am.” And her restaurant doesn’t kick diners with loud children to the curb, she added. Instead, they are asked to take the offending child outside until they pipe down.

Still, Chambliss, who said she believes the sign violates the American with Disabilities Act, contends the restaurant’s owner basically said her autistic child was not welcome there.

“She looked at me and said, ‘I cannot believe you even take him in public. You must be the only one,’ ” Chambliss told WECT.

There are lots of issues at play in the story. Do adults have the right to have peaceful public experiences? Do children belong everywhere? Do parents have an obligation to quiet a screaming toddler or baby, or remove them from a public situation? Should special needs children be given more leeway on these matters?

These are all legitimate questions, but I have a couple of different ones: why on earth does a two-bit greasy spoon with an uninspiring menu and no pretensions to fine dining whatsoever care about the behavior of the occasional toddler toted in by parents desperate enough to select this restaurant in the first place? Why do the various mean spirited barren-on-purpose types show up in droves to leave comments at a review site about how they'd love to go to this place just to avoid the infliction of the sight or sound of other people's filthy progeny, when everybody knows their spiritual home would be a five-star restaurant complete with a condom-studded dessert entree? And why the blazes are the adults the ones whining like children about...well, about the whining of children?

A culture in which the sound of the occasional baby or toddler noise isn't even tolerated at a third-rate seafood diner (note: not a museum, opera house, or first-class restaurant) is a culture on the way to contracepting itself out of existence. At least the Hispanic culture, which is rapidly supplanting the dessicated American culture that shrieks in horror at the thought of children shrieking from boredom, is very friendly to children.


Anonymous said...

One would hope that children that scream are not made 'artificially' sedate in order to meet dining preference of others.

To muzzle a child so that it meets requirements of a dining establishment so that it may eat in the presence of other dining patrons seems abusive.

On the other hand, parents or other adults with screaming children in tow without anyone's care seems as if there is negligence involved.

Anonymous said...

I am all for this. So often, parents let their little darlings run around, scream and generally be annoying because they're too lazy or rude to do anything about it. Or, because they think their children are just so precious. They're not. This includes parents who don't use the crying room at Church. If you're not going to discipline children and ensure their proper behavior in public, don't have any. Or pay for a sitter and leave them home.

Red Cardigan said...

Well, cowardly anonymous person at 3:40, *that's* a lovely contraceptive attitude to bring to Mass with you.

Aaron said...

The sign doesn't say "the occasional baby or toddler noise" won't be tolerated; it says "Screaming Children" won't be. Very different things.

I sympathize with your point that our contraceptive culture has led people to be uncomfortable with children around at all, as if kids should always be off in a playroom or somewhere so the adults can have peace and quiet and get adult things done. (I love your phrase "mean spirited barren-on-purpose types"; it describes that mindset to a T.) The smaller families get, and the more time kids spend in schools and daycares, the harder it seems to be for adults to function with a handful of rugrats milling around making some noise. That's not good.

But on the other hand, I see parents who seem completely unaware of the their own kids' vocal volume, who do let them ruin group experiences for everyone. I've been in a classroom setting watching a video, and been unable to hear because a child was yelling, and wondered how on earth the parent holding the child could hear! I suppose they just get used to it to some extent and don't realize how loud it is. I don't think it would be that rude to politely inform them.

Again, the restaurant doesn't say kids aren't allowed; it just says to take them outside if they're screaming, which should be simple common sense. Don't responsible parents do that anyway, without having to be asked? We have lots of kids at our Latin Mass church, and everyone I know is glad to see them there. Sometimes they fuss or act up -- that's what babies and toddlers do. When they're too loud, their parents take them outside. It doesn't really seem that complicated.

freddy said...

On one hand, I don't tolerate screaming -- by any age -- in my dining room, either.

On the other hand, I do tolerate a certain amount of excusable consternation or hilarity, depending on circumstances.

Children in special circumstances should always be treated with the greatest respect. We are not too many generations removed from the "put them in an institution and forget about them" mentality. It would be too bad to see that attitude return.

Siarlys Jenkins said...

I love children. Generally, if I hear a child screaming, I go over to see if I can do anything to help. E.g., on a metro train, where the child has eaten the last piece of cheese mom brought along, and is too young to understand "That's all there is honey." A stringy rubber ball bouncing in front of the child's face works wonders. Sometimes just making faces helps. It works in church too.

I have some sympathy for people who would like to dine out, or go out for any number of other purposes, and not have to endure really loud, nonstop, screeching, which does happen occasionally. Parents really should take such children outside, or even home, when that happens.

I have far less sympathy for the notion that any rules about behavior are "discrimination" against someone's "disability." It reminds me of the man with Tourette's Syndrome who sued under the ADA because a retail establishment refused to hire him as a clerk. The appeals court ruled "We see no reason this employer should be required to subject his customers to such language, even if it is involuntary."

There are limits to "accommodating" a disability. Autism is a bona fide, diagnosable, disability. But the wording even in the ADA is "reasonable accommodation." Sometimes, some autistic children should be taken outside, or home. Other times, accommodations may be reasonable.

Pat said...

Sure: these adults ought to grow up a little and be "the bigger people" about it. However, people used to have the good sense not to bring ill-mannered children out to a restaurant anyway, no matter how dingy of a place.

Partly related: I was once in a bar(!) at dinner time, having a heated discussion with a college friend of mine, when the waiter came over and asked me to keep my voice down because their were children present. Granted, it was dinner time rather than midnight but still: I was in a bar.

I'm perfectly happy to tolerate misbehaving kids when I'm out in public, but then, "family people" can't reasonably expect everyone to watch their language around their kids.

Red Cardigan said...

Pat, I think it's hysterical that you were asked to keep from shouting--and you're blaming the children. For all you know, it was other adults who complained about your elevated volume, and the poor waiter asked to intervene decided to use the presence of children to ask you to quit shouting in public.

Red Cardigan said...

And, all--of course parents should remove children when children misbehave, screaming included. But putting up a sign pretty much says, "Don't bring kids in here." Which is fine; anybody can put up a sign like that if they really want to, though most businesses wouldn't dare. So they go the "Make parents feel as uncomfortable and unwelcome as possible, and maybe they'll quit coming," route, which is both cowardly and stupid.

As far as disruptions go--the time my dining was most disrupted was the time a gentleman in the restaurant I was visiting had an apparent heart attack, and paramedics rushed in to treat him, shoving aside tables and making lots of noise and generally disregarding the comfort of the diners. Of course, I'm not rude enough to consider my temporary discomfort of any particular significance in such a circumstance.

So, I certainly don't mind if a happy boisterous baby or toddler is momentarily unhappy about something, either--that's just part of life, and on the whole I'd rather witness normal life than possible death and tragedy (though I hasten to add that the gentleman I mentioned was treated successfully). A child out of control, running around restaurants and bothering other patrons, is a different story--but do you know, I've only twice witnessed that in years of eating out far too often?

MightyMighty said...

I think this represents two issues. One, of course, is our anti-child, anti-natal, pro-comfort-at-all-times-as-a-matter-of-course culture. There are many disgusting manifestations of this, from unfriendly signage to the lovely "you know where children come from, right?" comment that mothers of large families get. (Yes, you must be a moron to have a large family.)

Two, the lack of common courtesy so many of us display, that results in businesses and individuals having to spell out the basics for us. For example, talking on the cell phone in a cafe: nobody wants to hear one half of a conversation, one is usually asinine or inappropriate. Similarly, when I spend $5 on a latte, I do NOT want someone to let their kids run rampant while I'm trying to write. Starbucks is definitely not a McDonald's ball pit, and I'm annoyed at how frequently women like to host playdates there. Obviously people are spending a lot of money to drink adult drinks and read newspapers. It's hard to enjoy either when a six-year-old is rolling on the floor yelling in that "I have only one volume" voice so particular to children. "Look, mom, if you spin really fast, you throw up a little in your throat!" "Ummm, hmmm, go on. (I'm not really paying attention to you.)" I agree that I haven't seen this very often in restaurants.

Having lived in Mexico, I have to say that I think they take it too far. You simply can't hear the readings or the sermon because there are dozens of children, all the way up through 12 years old, running up and down the aisles and talking at full volume.

On the other hand, it is really beautiful to go to a baptism party and see that there aren't 40 adults and six kids, but 40 adults and dozens of children.

Ultimately, I like to remind myself that I too annoy others at times, and to the extent it's possible, I need to shut up and put up. When someone else's behavior really, really is encroaching, I'll be direct and polite.

Alice said...

I wouldn't eat there. Both my husband and I would be so nervous that a) our toddler would be asked to leave that said toddler would sense our unease and get angry and b) we would not be able to relax and enjoy our meal. I'm trying to remember the last time I heard a kid screaming unattended in a restaurant. Restaurant etiquette has gotten much better since I was a kid. Back then, most parents just let their kids RUN unsupervised after they were finished eating.

I don't know that signs such as these are always related to the Culture of Death, though. The most unwelcome I ever felt as a mother was at the closest EF Mass (where nearly everybody homeschools and nobody uses contraception) when I found a sign in the restroom saying that throwing diapers away in any trash can or dumpster on the property was forbidden. Used sanitary napkins leave the restroom smelling SO nice and fresh. :P

Anonymous said...

Cowardly anonymous here. The name is Danielle, by the way. I was a difficult child in restaurants and told, when I was older, that at the first sign of acting up, Mom took me out to the car and stayed there until Dad came to relieve her. Or, they left me at home. I wasn't the world's little darling whose antics were oh-so-cute. (At those times, I probably wasn't oh-so-cute to Mom and Dad, either.) They showed decency and respect for their fellow diners and did the right thing. And I am talking about ME.

Ironic you should mention Mass. What would you say to the priest who shot a long, dirty look at the parents whose kid was screaming and wouldn't take it outside or to the crying room? Most definitely happened at my parish. I wanted to hug Father E.

Anonymous said...

"This includes parents who don't use the crying room at Church." Wow, way to crush the concept of The Body. Thanks, Jesus, you're great and all, but only as an adult who died for me. Forget the God/Man thing, as in born a baby, it doesn't work for me when I'm trying to get closer to you at Mass. I'm celebrating, after all.

Sorry, I know that's over the line not very spiritual sarcasm, but c' can't get the drift of a sermon because of a fidgety baby? This, I'm afraid, is what happens when we exchange truth for entertainment.

Considering the future of the Church we claim to love is dependent on God and increase, perhaps we should change cry rooms to Irritated Unaccommodating Self-Centered Adult rooms. There we might be undisturbed, except by gum chewing and coughing and bulletin shuffling and oxygen pumps....oh, and snoring and audible gas-passing. You know, all those pesky HUMAN behaviors.

Now that the sermon has concluded, I don't expect people to pay to eat while listening to my children bellyache. I would encourage us all to remember, though, that most parents are doing the best they can, and a little kindness in the face of their perceived inconsideration might better serve all concerned. See you at IHOP, if you're Man enough.

Red Cardigan said...

Danielle, I would definitely be tempted to have words with a priest who would do any such thing during Mass. My charitable interpretation, which I am bound to assume, is that Father was having a bad day and simply forgot himself for a moment--not unlike an unruly child, in fact. Such a lack of decorum from the altar would be otherwise all but inexcusable.

I am sorry the parents didn't remove their child (who, by the way, is a "him" or a "her," not an "it;"--I hate depersonalization of infants, as it tends to dehumanize them). Perhaps they were weighing the possibility the child might calm down against the certainty that they would disturb and anger the people they would have to climb over in the pew (since no one does parents the courtesy to let them sit near the end of a pew anymore) and then scores of other people as they paraded an angry, screaming child down the aisle and out the door. And because there aren't any proper vestibules anymore, the parents then have the choice to leave altogether and stand outside with the child in the heat or the cold--or they could, as many parents in the South eventually do, choose never to come back, and to find some small, family-friendly Bible church that welcomes them *and* their children, and where they won't be made to feel week after week as if they have committed the ultimate solecism not to hire a babysitter for Sunday mornings, attend Mass in split shifts, or just leave Mom at home for years until the youngest baby stops nursing.

The Church insists that families must be open to life. I can tell you from experience that when you are in the infant/toddler stage of your children's lives, that sometimes feels like hypocrisy: the Church expects parents to be open to life, so long as nobody else, from the parish pastor to the total stranger in the pew on Sunday morning, has to be. I have never felt more lonely, shunned, and unwelcome on Sunday mornings as I did the year our third was born, and we were attending Mass every week with a 2.5 year old, a 1.5 year old, and an infant. We tried to sit in the crying room when we could, too--but as we were living in rural NC and the parish we attended was an hour and fifteen minutes drive each way from our home, sometimes we would get there and find it already full.

Red Cardigan said...

Oh, and The Cottage Child--I *love* what you wrote. I think that idea to have "Irritated Unaccommodating Self-Centered Adult" rooms is brilliant, and would work out much better than the cry rooms do--because after you segregate all the young children from the congregation, the IUSCAs would still be annoyed by the songs they don't care for, homilies that go on longer than they prefer, and a dozen other things they find disagreeable, and perhaps the IUSCA rooms could offer headphones with "mute" buttons so they could shut off the music they hate and cut Father off after exactly seven minutes and twenty seconds.

Aaron said...

"c' can't get the drift of a sermon because of a fidgety baby?"

If I can't hear him, then no, sorry, I can't.

Again, we're not talking 'fidgety'; we're talking 'screaming.' I don't think anyone's going to put up a sign because babies fidget. Every time I see a discussion about this, people accuse the anti-screaming side of being against all child sounds -- or secretly against children altogether -- and that's unfair. Yes, there are some people who hate babies and would complain about the slightest noise, but most of us love them and just want to be able to hear the priest and not have anyone kicking the back of our pew.

Maybe the sign could use more tact, or a disclaimer: "Parents of screaming children will be asked to take them outside. By 'screaming' we do not mean burbling, talking, fussing, singing, fidgeting, or being a sloppy eater. All those are acceptable. We mean screaming: the kind of ear-piercing wail that makes people wince in the next room."

A priest who glares during the sermon should probably have a private chat with the parents after Mass instead. If it's really bad, he might even say something during the sermon, but it should be possible to do it with kindness and charity.

Pat said...

"Pat, I think it's hysterical that you were asked to keep from shouting--"

Haha - you've been in the South too long. Yes, people still argue with their friends in bars - not everyone comes to the pub to despair and get away from their wives. Many people outside of Baptist country don't get the vapors when someone raises their voice about a public issue. It's completely appropriate behavior - so much so that, despite the fact that I've been in 1,000 bars and 10,000 heated discussions, and quite a few louder than that one, that was the only time anyone had asked me IN A BAR, to lower my voice. In a bar (in a college town, no less).

"...and you're blaming the children."

No - I don't blame the kids: I blame the idiot parents who brought their kids to a bar. And then don't understand that a bar, unlike a library or a church or even a bookstore, a bar is still full of tumults no matter how miserable these people want to make everyone else's experience.

Keep the kids and the faint-hearted out of the public house.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of 6, we ate out at least once a week, in a nice restaurant - not a 4star, but it always had cloth napkins, if that helps set the stage. My parents were VERY accustomed to having other diners - strangers - stop by our table on their way out and congratulate my mother for her six well-behaved children. I have NEVER been compelled to do the same in the hundreds of restaurants I've been in. The take-away from this whole story should not be about "contraceptive culture." Its should be about parents making their children behave in public. Swimming pools at hotels was another one. We knew we were not at home and people were their spending their hard earned money to relax. If one of us raised our voice too much, my father glared. If it happened again, you had a 10-minute time out in a chaise. The behavior of children today at hotels and resorts in the USA is shocking. I got tired of saying to strangers, "control your child." Now I will ONLY stay at a resort that has a separate pool and pool area for adults. People, please: control your children.

JMB said...

I'm ambivalent about this. On one hand, one should be cognizant of one's neighbors and surroundings. Sometimes it's just not cool to bring a screaming baby into a nice restaurant. Sometimes at Mass you have to take the baby out, or go to the cry room.
I am not the type that likes to bring attention to myself or my family. So during those long years when we had baby after baby my husband and I did all sorts of things to get through those times - splitting up for Mass, using the Cry Room, taking kids out, etc. But we did all this because we didn't want to disturb our neighbors.

Anonymous said...

Aaron - Yea, lots of things are unfair. Please don't misunderstand, I do not wish to impose my children's bad behavior on you or anyone else. I'm suggesting there is a heightened sensitivity to "disturbance" in exactly the place the sensitivity might ought to be set aside. I've got easy kids, who "behave" themselves according to adult standards, so I only have compassion for folks whos kids dare to act like - well - kids. Up to and including screaming at the most inopportune moments.

Maybe I've been lucky, but I've never been in a service when a child was so out of control that I felt I missed the message. I was participating in the message by being there. And gratefully, I own a Bible and a computer, so when I get home I can look up anything I feel I haven't understood.

Church is Church, it's not a motivational seminar - we worship as a family or we don't. I might be more concerned about the single mother next to me in the pew who is so distracted by how she's going to pay her gas bill that she doesn't notice her boy is kicking the back of my seat, than my enjoyment of the sermon, if I'm vested in the point of corporate worship (and I'd likely be rolling my eyes and wondering what her problem is, I don't mean to misrepresent myself, but the ideal is worth considering, surely).

I'm saying that in the face of someone not doing what we think they ought, we should still do what we know we ought. And not be a sour puss about it (do I pray for intercession from St. Jerome for that?, I'm new.).

MightyMighty said...

@Cottage Child: I too love the idea of rooms for "Irritated Unaccommodating Self-Centered Adults", but I think that many establishments could benefit from them, not just churches. Airports/airplanes? restaurants? doctor's offices? public pools?

@Aaron: I agree, that when this sort of debate starts up, it becomes a matter of "You hate all child noises" if someone complains about screaming children. There is a whole spectrum of behaviors that are tolerable in church/restaurants/etc. that do not require the child to be muzzled or unconscious.

My pet peeve at church is the way parents do not seem to be discipling their children. At all. The girls are dressed like skanks and the boys are dressed like slobs. The five-year-old is playing, loudly talking, and crawling under the pews. The eight-year-old is reading a magazine during the consecration. The 14-year-old is wildly gesticulating to a nearby friend about the hilarity of his graphic t-shirt. The parents are reading the bulletin, or praying fervently while remaining oblivious to not only their children's impact on everyone else, but their children's behavior's impact on their own immortal souls. An eight-year-old who can receive communion should be paying attention during mass. A five-year-old preparing to receive it in two years should be standing/sitting/kneeling with the rest of the congregation. A 14-year-old who can't control himself in church is 90% out the door and won't be attending Mass once he hits college, unless there is some huge shift in thinking. It bothers me not just as someone who has to watch the constant fidgeting and listen to the noise, but as someone who is watching a train wreck happen as the conductors sit back and sip martinis.

However, I had a big time insight last Sunday, after feeling annoyed by a.) the skimpy outfit on the beautiful engaged woman next to me, b.) her fiance's unusual choice to dress like a surfer, c.) the family to my right that had three kids, with the nine-year-old not participating in Mass at all (his parents occasionally encouraged him to kneel, which he ignored, which they ignored), and d.) the fact that both altar boys were wearing flamboyant gym shoes, no socks, and shorts (it was 60 degrees).

Then it struck me. Every single week that I go to Mass, there will be a.) someone dressed badly, b.) someone behaving badly, c.) in cold season there will be someone hacking up a lung every 30 seconds,and d.) there will be plenty of people there who aren't paying any attention and don't get it.

And if I don't stop judging everybody around me, I can count myself as one of them. Since there will always be a distraction, I need to make peace with that and move on.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, you get it. Thank you.

Erin, I understand how deeply pro-life you are. But, as with others who are deeply passionate about an issue - racism, discrimination, and such - everything is about that issue, even when it isn't.

The overall issue is teaching children to behave. When you are a parent, it is your responsibility to do so instead of living in the world of "My Child Can Do No Wrong and Everyone One Will Think the Same," which seems a bit self-centered (!) to me.

You went off the deep end in thinking that I am opposed to any little gurgle or coo from children in public places. Not so. I appreciate well-behaved children. I might even crack a smile at them. Oddly, my nephews, who were children once, children whom I was actually allowed to take care of(!) unsupervised (!!), even like me. I have nothing but debt for their inheritance, so their liking me isn't tied to a payday. Apparently I wasn't too much of an ogre with them. (Or, they don't remember my holding their heads underwater. In the toilet. Kidding!)

It is prolonged disruptive behavior - yelling, screaming, crying, running around, and climbing things - that should not be allowed. It is common courtesy to your fellow man. Period.

In Church, of all places, I'd imagine the faithful would want to be especially careful of minding their children's behavior. The Child-Hating Culture of Death Glare from Fr. E came after the child had been crying for a while, and as he was beginning to prepare the Eucharist. You know, the Body of Christ?

My sister (who would take her boys out of Mass, when necessary) was amused as I discussed this issue with her this evening. "The priest needs to concentrate throughout the Mass, too," she said. Ah, who cares. (Oh, Fr. E has another Child-Hating Culture of Death brother priest, Fr. L., at my sister's parish on the other coast. Fr. L. has often stressed in the bulletin about parents needing to mind their children at Mass. His bad.)

--Cowardly Partially Anonymous Danielle, president of IUSCA

P.S. "It" refers to someone of either gender. "It" and its usage will remain in my vocabulary.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, you get it. Thank you.

Erin, I understand how passionately you are pro-life. But, as with others who are passionate about a particular issue - racism, discrimination, and such - you find the Culture of Death in everything, even when it is not present. The other Anonymous on 9/11, 10:20am, hit the nail on the head.

The overall issue is simply this: As a parent, you are responsible for your children's behavior, especially in public, out of common courtesy for your fellow man. Period. If this means temporarily leaving with your child, you do.

The occasional grunt or coo isn't a problem. Prolonged disruptive behavior - yelling, crying, screaming, running, climbing - is. (Believe it or not, I like well-behaved children. I have even been known to crack a smile at them.)

I would think that the faithful would be especially mindful of their children in church, of all places. The child I had referenced earlier had been crying for quite a bit. Father E bestowed the Child-Hating Culture of Death Glare on the family as he was starting to prepare the Eucharist. You know...the Body of Christ? They couldn't have taken the child out to show reverence during the most sacred part of the Mass? Both parents were present and it should have been done, no matter where they were sitting.

I discussed this topic this evening with my sister, a mother of two boys, who lives on the other coast. She most definitely has taken her boys out of the Mass (and elsewhere) when they've acted up. Her church doesn't have a crying room, so she's made do with the vestibule. "The priest needs to concentrate, too," she said.

Erin, interesting explanation regarding your non-use of the word, "it." I'd noticed in previous posts that you assign a gender when talking about a generic baby or child and had wondered the reason why. I figured you usually used a female pronoun because all of your children are girls.

--Cowardly Partially Anonymous Danielle, President, IUSCA

Anonymous said...


May I add one thought? When I beg parents to control unruly children I have 2 goals: my primary goal is to serve my own desire for well-deserved peace and quiet at that moment. My secondary goal is to serve my own desire that those same children will learn respect for others, respect for their elders and respect for their neighbors. These are important teaching moments. I feel for MightyMighty above. IMHO, the people you describe are perpetuating a culture of social irresponsibility and selfishness. Just ask any kindergarten teacher.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous above,

You get a gold star!

My sister is a kindergarten and 1st grade teacher's aide. :-)


Dymphna said...

For our fifth anniversary my husband took me to a very fancy restaurant. It was $50 for adults back in the early 90s. A family was seated next us and the baby was having a bad night. She screamed, not fussed, not cooed or laughed or gurgled but screamed for 20 minutes. That selfish family ruined dinner for everybody in the restaurant. Finally a manager came over and told them to do something or leave. They left. Everybody was relieved. I wasn't anti child that night. I just wanted to enjoy my meal. What's wrong with that? If I go to McDonalds I expect noise. When I got a private restaurant, that's not a sports bar or Irish I expect peace. Oh and this place may or may not be a greasy spoon but the people who can still afford to eat out deserve some peace to.

Red Cardigan said...

All, I appreciate how civilly the discussion has continued; I didn't post any comments yesterday because aside from my 9/11 post I was not blogging yesterday.

I'll briefly address a few things now:

Pat: I think yelling, cursing adults, tipsy or not, are *way* more obnoxious than crying children who don't know any better. This is one reason why I avoid bars. And since bars are sort of the unofficial "crying room" for boorish adults, parents should avoid them too. Maybe I have been in the South too long, but even as a Northerner I appreciate manners.

Anonymous with the swimming pool complaint, I find skimpy adult swimwear far more ill-mannered than the occasional loud child, and nobody will ban that. Happily for you, I always avoided bringing my girls (when they were small) to the sort of public pool where they were likely to see some cosmetically-enhanced woman in a too-tight bikini and her Speedo-clad gigolo--so it works out well for both of us.


Red Cardigan said...

(con't. from above)

JMB and others, I do believe that parents have the responsibility to weigh the situation and act accordingly. But it would help parents a lot if others would look at the situation realistically. Instead of thinking that Mom or Dad should spring out with the child the within eighteen seconds of a cry beginning, you might notice whether Dad has already left with the two-year-old, leaving Mom to contend with the baby who has started to cry and the four-year-old who can't be left alone in the pew, but is reluctant to walk out to the back. It's not always as easy as people think!

Danielle, a priest has many ways to handle a child whose prolonged crying has disturbed Mass for too long. Well-trained ushers are a must, and altar servers can be sent with a whispered message, too. A glare is just childish, regardless of the circumstances--*especially* when Our Lord is about to be present on the altar.

In fact, a priest who trains his liturgical helpers well need not worry about the occasional noise from children--because the congregation will learn to trust Father to handle the situation should it become out of hand. This won't stop people like the old woman who glared at my (then) two-year-old because I was letting her hold a plastic/rope rosary (no clinking!) instead of making her sit silent, hands folded and with no distractions, throughout Mass--but it will help most others.

Red Cardigan said...

One final thought: I *do* think parents should try to remove a fussing, crying, screaming child from Mass, from a restaurant, etc. Once when ours were little Thad and I ate in shifts--and this was at a counter-style Chinese place--because the baby was too fussy to settle down; we took turns walking her outside while the other ate with the older girls. This is what you do, as parents, and to be honest I've hardly ever seen a parent just let a child scream without doing anything about it.

But I also think that we're kidding ourselves if we don't recognize how child-unfriendly our world has become. Relatives of mine traveled in Ireland a couple years ago with a baby, and at every inn or restaurant they entered the proprietors rushed over to coo over the baby, offer to hold the baby, bring the baby a bowl of cooled mashed vegetables to "start on" while the adults looked over the menu and ordered, etc. Baby did great the whole trip, from what I've heard--it makes a huge difference when parents aren't tense and anxious the whole time because they can feel the annoyance and hostility of everyone in the room the moment they enter with a baby or a young child.

Anonymous said...

To those who have had dining and other "grown up" experiences interrupted, I understand and share your irritation, without question. Bad manners abound. My comments are with regard to Church, specifically. Manners are learned in the presence of others with manners, ideally its the parents, but what if it's not? Kick 'em to the curb? - harsh judgments aren't any better than screaming children, on that front.

I could only think of this conversation this morning at Mass when we could hear a super mad baby screaming bloody murder - through the glass of the cry room. It was muffled, but we certainly got HIS message.

@ Danielle "Cowardly Partially Anonymous Danielle, President, IUSCA"...*snort*

c matt said...

A pool? Really? You're complaining about kids being unruly at a pool?

Anonymous said...

@c matt, I take your question to mean that your parents were never complimented for your own behavior in the public places at a vacation resort. That's a shame. Why do you THINK fine resorts have had to create separate "adults only" pool areas? Answer: Because people won't control their children.

Nârwen said...

This happened years ago, but I still remember it. It was Christmas Midnight Mass - lovely church, beautiful music. As the homily began, there was a little girl of about four, running up and down the nave, shrieking with laughter. I could see her parents, and I saw no other children with them. I tried to ignore her, but it was impossible - pretty much everybody at Mass was distracted by this hyper tot who was being ignored by her apparently oblivious parents. There were no ushers, and I believe that when a server tried to get the parents to intervene, they ignored him.
While the priest did not say anything, or even glare, he became so distracted himself that he had to stop his homily, compose himself, and start again.

Wailing babies, OK. Occasional outbursts, OK. But letting your toddler use the nave of the church as a running track at Christmas Midnight Mass ? I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it myself...

Tony said...

This reminded me of the story I heard about a town that passed an ordinance that smoking was not allowed in establishments that allowed children.

A number of restaurants became "child free".

I love children, especially at Mass. They are God's way of saying we deserve to continue.

I love little babies who vocalize, either trying to "sing" with the song, or simply "googling".

I feel bad for the parents of a child in full meltdown. I start losing that sympathy when it continues and the parents seem oblivious.

I think this is what the restaurant was referring to. To extend this to the hatred of the existance of children (except on the part of individuals quoted) is somewhat disingenuous.