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Children–a Verbal Tantrum

A bunch of posts on the topic of kids and their place in society have come out in the past week, jumping off of a series of newspaper articles.  At first, I didn’t think I wanted to write about it, but I realized that I was still thinking about it hours after reading each post (and reading the comments–which is something I rarely do).

I obviously have children, and wanted these children very badly, and that absolutely colours my view.

But what is wrong with this sentence: “But as the ranks of parents and their tykes have swelled, so, too, has resentment over having to accommodate them in public places.”

Since when is it okay to declare public places off-limits for a segment of the population?  Because there is a huge difference between saying that “people who talk in a movie theater annoy you and should be banned” and generalizing it to “people should be banned.”  Should people practice common courtesy in public, be respectful of the space and the people around them?  Of course.  But when they don’t, we hold our contempt for the individual or people who do those behaviours–not for all men or women in general.

There are numerous businesses in big cities that ban strollers.  Since when is it okay to ban a mode of transportation for someone unable to walk?  When would it be okay to write long articles bitching about how wheelchairs are taking up too much space on city sidewalks or how they don’t belong in restaurants.  It wouldn’t, and that’s why people don’t write those articles.  People don’t use strollers because they love to push another human being rather than have them walk alongside them.  They use strollers because the human being in question cannot walk at the necessary adult pace to keep up…or at all.

Why is it called parental entitlement if it’s a stroller and need if it’s a wheelchair?  How about we go back to seeing both modes of transportation for what they are–necessary items to transport a person from place to place.  Let’s stop thinking it’s our place to tell another person what size or make or model of said stroller or wheelchair they should have purchased.

Children are social apprentices.  They are learning how to become a part of society, and the way to ensure that children become responsible members of society is not to teach them that we can discriminate against those who bother us or annoy us or who we feel shouldn’t be allowed in our spaces.

Do I enjoy listening to a child have a tantrum while I’m trying to eat dinner?  Of course not–just as I don’t enjoy listening to people talk loudly on their cell phones or have an argument at a nearby table (and for those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know I hate being around people who wear too much perfume).  But I also understand that once I leave my house, I enter a public space which cannot cater to a single person and instead must accommodate every member of society–from young to old.

There are places that have certain social rules in place–we are quiet in libraries and can be loud at parks.  But once those social rules are met to the best of the person’s ability–after all, we wouldn’t fault someone hard of hearing for talking loudly in a library, understanding that the volume of their voice may be out of their control and we can’t fault a child who is still learning social rules to be able to grasp why their parent is telling them to be quiet or what being quiet truly means depending on the age–my preferences need to end.  If I want control of my environment, I stay home.  If I want to open myself up to experiences–both good or bad–I leave the house.

There are people who say that certain places should be off-limits to children, and I am certainly amenable to creating child-free spaces as long as we’re also amenable to creating adult-free spaces (or non-child-having spaces).  You can see where this becomes an issue.  If the coolest restaurant in town started holding up their hand at the door and peering behind you, saying, “no kid?  Sorry, you can’t come in.  This place is only for parents,” you’d probably be right pissed if you didn’t have a kid.  And since most of us who read this blog are infertile, we know how much in stings when acceptance is only implied tangentially–imagine how we’d feel if there truly were places we couldn’t walk into just because of an inability to reproduce?  If it’s an adult activity taking place in the space–such as a bar–I can understand limiting the age of the patrons.  But eating, viewing pieces of art, checking out books–these are activities that defy age.  And therefore, I don’t believe that limits should be set.

Nor do I think it’s cool when people talk about how they’re spending all this money and want a nice experience out at a restaurant.  Do any of us go into an expensive dinner thinking, “I’d love it if someone screamed at the table next to me!”  Of course not–we all want a nice experience when we’re in public.  But you’re paying for the food, you’re paying for the service.  You are not owed a nice night out by the other patrons beyond those other patrons attempting to follow social rules.

I do think that parents should parent their children and it’s inexcusable for someone to take their child out in public and ignore their behaviour without trying to mold it.  But other people also need to stop acting as if tantrums are something being done to them.  As if the only person hurting in the situation is the person who needs to observe the tantrum.

People should know their children and know their limits and not set up situations for their children to fail on the social level.  But even the best laid plans can be botched when we’re talking about a human being with free will.  Parents only have so much control over their children–there is a deep chasm where the parent’s wants end and the child’s will begins.

This feels a bit like a verbal tantrum because I truly want to scream at the people commenting on these articles and stomp my feet on the floor.  Sometimes, a tantrum is the only response when you are hearing something that defies reason.  I don’t expect this to change the mind of someone who discriminates against the very young or very old, but still wanted to get this off my chest.  Ageism is truly an issue in America.  We were all once children and we will all (hopefully) one day be old.  And we need to remember as we exist in that central valley that there is never an excuse for abusing the power of adulthood.


1 Genevieve { 05.18.10 at 12:41 pm }

It’s a verbal tantrum quite necessary. No worries.

2 LJ { 05.18.10 at 1:07 pm }

Every time I see one of these articles I get my fur all in a ruffle, because wtf? I get not liking kids, or not wanting them, I swear. That’s someone’s prerogative. But I agree with the wheelchair metaphor.

I know that with the monster strollers (of which I have one), people get annoyed that they take up space on cramped vehicles, like buses. But once I was getting on a shuttle from parking to an airport, and no one would make room for my efficiently packed bags and stroller, nor would they help me by holding anything so I could fold said stroller up while juggling everything AND a baby. Common courtesy simply isn’t common enough. I really get tee’d off with the parent haterade, just because it’s easier to assume that someone is a horrible thoughtless parent rather than help another struggling human in need.

3 N { 05.18.10 at 1:10 pm }



4 MM { 05.18.10 at 1:41 pm }


I’m torn.

As someone who has spent a decade wanting children, I must say, there are times when I wish there weren’t children around. Times when I go somewhere that I think will be childless-friendly (AKA, a movie at midnight) and am frustrated that there’s a baby crying in the theater. Even if I know that maybe that’s a single parent who can never get a break- who thought midnight was the least likely time she’d bother anyone by bringing her baby-that her baby would surely sleep through the movie at that time of night… it’s still frustrating.

When the importance and needs of my two-person adult-only family are ignored because it doesn’t include children, it doesn’t make me want to be a happy earth-sharing human being. I’ve definitely been asked to accommodate more than my fair share of child-superior events and ideas. Outside, inside, at work, in my own family, in everyone else’s.
I roll with it.
This is just how it is.

But I don’t think my wanting a quiet evening on the beach watching the sunset or romantic evening in a restaurant is any more wrong than a family with children not wanting someone blasting their “inappropriate” music or reading their porno to refrain from doing it around their beloved children.

5 HereWeGoAJen { 05.18.10 at 1:48 pm }

Oh, yes, I totally agree. I also think it is inexcusable for parents to do nothing. Like years ago, Matt and I went to an hard R rated movie at 9:00pm and a woman behind us allowed her child to babble and play with a loud set of car keys throughout the entire movie.

Once a couple glared rudely at us and said loudly “now THAT is why we don’t have children” when we were struggling to get our stroller through the x-ray machine at the airport. And I was on another flight once where a one year old baby started to cry on take-off and was rudely hushed by a stranger. (And don’t get me started, but that one year old had been on ALL my flights and we had left a FULL 24 HOURS earlier and this was our FOURTH AIRPLANE and I was about to cry too. Indonesia to Texas takes a long time.)

6 Delenn { 05.18.10 at 1:53 pm }

I don’t think I wanna see the links, cuz I don’t need the stress right now…but AMEN to what you said. Amen, amen!!

(and a HERE, HERE! too)

7 Lollipopgoldstein { 05.18.10 at 1:59 pm }

MM, I think there’s a huge difference between wishing and acting. Do I wish people didn’t wear a lot of perfume and accost me with the smell? Of course. So I grumble about it to my friends, but I wouldn’t go over to the person and tell them that they should leave because their perfume is annoying me. It sounds like you have wishes, not actions. Which I think is totally reasonable. These articles are describing moments where a parent was asked to leave or confronted.

It’s hard when it’s a public space and we each want it used differently. I don’t think it’s wrong to want your time in a public space to go in a certain way, but it’s also not “wrong” when it doesn’t go that way.

8 Mash { 05.18.10 at 2:11 pm }

Hmmm. I’m not sure what I think about this. I certainly have felt the frustration.

I definitely think children should have equal rights to adults, but in many cases, those children are not enjoying being in those places either. Upmarket restaurants are not fun for small children or toddlers, I think if I was that age I would also throw a tantrum at the sheer boredom of it. But as an adult, I love the idea of going somewhere quiet.

Children have a right to play. I believe children deserve to be in spaces that are conducive to their needs. And it’s when they aren’t, that they get frustrated, and that is when it also becomes frustrating for everyone around them. And it has to be said that there are plenty of irresponsible parents around, who do absolutely nothing to help calm the situation down.

I’m not sure what the solution is…

9 Lollipopgoldstein { 05.18.10 at 2:14 pm }

I think one solution is for people to know their kids and not put them in social situations where they’re doomed to fail. Then again, sometimes it is hit or miss. There are kids who love upscale restaurants as much as the parents. There are kids who don’t want to dress up and will pitch a fit if you try to fit them into your adult world.

10 Heather { 05.18.10 at 2:22 pm }

Agreed. Tantrum away…

Do I hate screaming babies in Church? Yes I do. Especially because we have a very nice crying room that I used with Katherine – the service is put on big screen and they have comfy chairs. Now, I’m wondering why I don’t sit in there every week? Back to my point – I never ask that lady (yes the same one each week) to leave…I take it as a reminder for patience and tolerance. Which, I obviously need each week…

Very well written…LOVE the wheelchair/stroller analogy.

11 a { 05.18.10 at 2:29 pm }

So, I read that Washington Post article and about fell out of my chair from the hypocrisy in the first paragraph. A woman with an unleashed dog wants to complain about a kid? WTF???!!!??? (I used to have a dog, and she was attacked twice by unleashed dogs – no major damage, but very frightening to me and to her.)

Anyway, I thought the other articles were fairly reasonable – I don’t think it’s a crime to note that some people are completely inconsiderate. Don’t tar everyone with the same brush, though. I didn’t read the comments, because that’s where the scary people live on issues like this.

12 a { 05.18.10 at 2:33 pm }

Oh yeah, and I agree with you – parents should know their kids and take them places that are appropriate for their child/ren’s attention spans and energy levels. Not that it would stop people from complaining…

13 loribeth { 05.18.10 at 2:45 pm }

I’m conflicted as well. I sympathize with MM, because as a childless-not-by-choice person, I often feel surrounded by children (& parents talking endlessly about their children). I appreciate the opportunity to enjoy an childfree environment now & then.

In an ideal world, we should all be as thoughtful & considerate of each other as you are to all of us here, Mel. The problem is, of course, that courtesy seems to be in rapid decline these days, & everyone feels entitled to do whatever they want, & to heck with everyone else.

I don’t agree with everything in the articles you linked to, but I do agree with one of them that said, “At the end of the day, the real issue is the parents, not the kid. “

14 Lollipopgoldstein { 05.18.10 at 2:50 pm }

I think of it similar sometimes to Christmas. Those who are Christian can’t imagine that the rest of the world is annoyed with the decorations and the Santas in the mall and the crowds. But we are, and we’re expected to suck it up and deal because Christmas is a reality for the majority of America. When you’re experience infertility or loss, that reminder is always around you in the form of other children and I can understand the desire to avoid (considering that I still often have the desire to avoid). But there needs to be a way for all to be courteous while realizing that our reality is not everyone’s reality. Being mindful of that while still being able to live our life without apologies for things that don’t demand apologies.

15 Rayne of Terror { 05.18.10 at 3:05 pm }

I live in a very child oriented town in the midwest plus I’m aware not to set my boys up for failure, so I have had very few bad interactions with folks re kids in public. I have left many a restaurant with a where the food took too long for the child’s span of good behavior. We go out to eat between the hours of 4:45 and 5:30 to hit the behavior sweetspot. We also usually order the child’s food with the drinks. It takes a lot of mindfulness on the parent’s part to get excellent behavior even with a five year old who has been eating in restaurants every week for his whole life.

But it brings to mind this one time, this awful awful day that should have been a fabulous day. My son was 2 1/2 I think. My sister was having her bat mitzvah and 30th birthday party in Chicago. We drove to Chicago with my parents to attend the service. I brought a bag full of quiet toys and sat in the furthest back pew. I let my toddler roll cars on the floor and while he wasn’t perfectly quiet he was pretty quiet. And this woman two rows in front of me turned around and shushed us repeatedly and gave me the stink eye. I drove 3 hours to be there and I was NOT leaving the room during my sister’s service. Afterwards we took Amtrak home and he cried the whole trip. It was miserable for both of us. He was just done and couldn’t sleep and couldn’t be consoled. Total fail.

16 Lut C. { 05.18.10 at 3:38 pm }

What is wrong with that sentence? It has the facts wrong. The ranks of parents and their tykes are dwindling in the western world, not swelling. It’s called Population Ageing, or isn’t that an issue in the US?

I think your analogy with strollers and wheelchairs is a good one.

17 Guera! { 05.18.10 at 3:42 pm }

Love this line
“If I want control of my environment, I stay home. If I want to open myself up to experiences–both good or bad–I leave the house.”

18 Heather { 05.18.10 at 4:02 pm }


I don’t wear perfume.

(Also, I’m afraid my head will explode if I think about this too much, because I’ve got the toddler who just traded in the stroller (which society claimed he was “too big” for) for a wheelchair, and I’m not doing well with it. As in, Knocked-Over-The-Entire-Rack-Of-CheezIts-At-Kroger…)

19 Selmada { 05.18.10 at 4:21 pm }

Honestly, if I had only one child, I would be more inclined to use a child carrier than a stroller. Not for fitness but because it would be so much easier in many situations. But I dont have that option. I have twins.
Luckily our city now allows strollers on the bus (old policy was to fold them and hold the baby – very hard with one infant, impossible with two).
Now that the boys are old enough, I’d rather fold my stroller when (if) we go into a restaurant. But the reality I end up facing is that very few places have more than one high chair. So I limit where I go (and how often).
I know exactly how wide my stroller is. I have a bigger double jogging stroller, but I use a smaller umbrella style double for daily use. I get frustrated when someone tells me “I dont think you will fit” and get a bit of satisfaction when I see the look of amazement when I not only fit, but have room to spare.

I liked what one place in the article did to ensure both those who want/have/like kids and those who dont had a place by creating a stroller/high chair free section. It gives people choice without banning anyone. Yeah, its segregation, but it works.

20 Jim G { 05.18.10 at 4:42 pm }

I really want to open a cafe for ADULTS ONLY. After than an airline. You can blame the parents who believe in free range children.

21 Lollipopgoldstein { 05.18.10 at 4:50 pm }

Actually, Jim, I think you missed the point of the post in an effort to just speak your mind: I don’t place the blame on other people, but rather accept that my desires may not be able to be met within my time with general public in the same way that my desires can be met when I am in my own space.

I think you’d probably have a lot of takers for an adult only cafe and airline. And both of those businesses, with an upfront explanation for the discrimination, would be understandable vs. having a public space without those discriminatory practices in place controlled by angry customers rather than the management.

22 Kristin { 05.18.10 at 7:27 pm }

As always Mel, well said!

23 nixy { 05.18.10 at 8:20 pm }

Qualifier that I do not have kids yet, and grew up in a house where my parents left us behind with a babysitter (it seems like people don’t do that much anymore, am I right?). I fully realize that once I have kids, I may feel differently on the subject.

When I was a child, we either behaved, or we had to go sit in the car (with parent if we were too young). My parents would have been MORTIFIED to ruin someone else’s nice dinner.

Now that I’m a grown up, I have a really hard time when I’m out to a nice dinner (which is a real treat for us), and it gets interrupted by screaming/misbehaving children. BUT, I think that the onus lies on the parents to either make their child behave, and as long as they are making a genuine effort to do so, it usually doesn’t bother me nearly as much.

I feel the same way on planes. A crying baby with attentive parents that are TRYING to do something doesn’t bother me. It’s when the parents look around and shrug and say “what can I do?” that I get mad. Get up, walk around, try to rock them, and make a consistent/continuous effort. Because really, that’s your job: you’re a parent.

24 Longtime Lurker { 05.18.10 at 8:54 pm }

@ LG:
You had a really good statement here: “But there needs to be a way for all to be courteous while realizing that our reality is not everyone’s reality.”

I feel as if sometimes, the bad apples that ruin it for other parents are those who don’t want to accept the new reality in which they are in. I understand your child needs a stroller because he or she can’t walk. I get that argument. But also know that my thinking when I see a massive stroller is that I always am the one that has to accommodate the parent. Why? Because by some virtue, the parent was able to give birth? Courtesy should be a two-way street, no? How about not buying such a large stroller if you don’t need to? Just an example.

Having said all that, I really am only frustrated in two situations where I think, “Why the eff are kids here?” For example:
(1) Bars, particularly when the child is accompanied by one parent, who is drinking, or two parents, who are both drinking. It happens fairly frequently in my town and in the places I frequent. I always wonder, how will the baby get home? I am not begrudging a parent the right to drink. I’m merely pissed off that you would choose to drink and then drive your children home.
(2) Hard R movies and movies past 8pm. I go to the late show to avoid the kid kicking my seat. If the kid kicking my seat is in the theater at 10pm, I’m not going to be a courteous person b/c guess what? The kid, nor the parent is being very courteous to me.

25 V { 05.18.10 at 9:21 pm }

I don’t like bad kids, I like their parents even less. However, the world is full of people you will and will not like, it’s not just kids. I remember going out with my parents and the speech before we left was basically don’t embarrass us or else. When we were at our destination, just in case we forgot, the death stare came out. Sucked for us, but we didn’t annoy anyone else. Kids cry on planes, so what, I know some adults who would if it was socially acceptable. I don’t think kids should be at adult movies for a variety of reasons. In the end, life if full of annoying things, so people need to get over themselves.

26 Megan { 05.18.10 at 9:22 pm }

I totally get where you are coming from. Your arguments are sound.

However, lately I have been feeling very much that the world only caters to children/families and is very unfriendly to my family situation. It’s all a matter of perspective I guess.

I think the issue (as I observe it here locally) is that many parents don’t “parent” their children in public places. (And I may feel that way because in my day *cue old lady voice* parents weren’t as permissive with their children as they are today. I had to sit down and shut up or sit in the car). I feel that some people’s children are like strong perfume.

It’s just one component of a society that is becoming less polite and less aware of how their actions impact others. People wear strong perfume. People ignore salespeople ringing them out as they talk on their cell phones. People swerve between two lanes on the highway while they are texting. People brag about being rude to customer service people on the phone.

AND…people bring their children to fancy restaurants in the evening and let them have the run of the place.

27 Carrie { 05.18.10 at 11:13 pm }

On the rare occassion that I do go any where without my three, and I come across a tantruming child, I sigh. I don’t care that someone is tantruming, but that I know what that parent is feeling – the stares, the rude comments, etc from others who think he/she is doing a crappy job with their child. We can only control so much of what happens with our children. We do not know everyone’s situation nor should we judge it. A little compassion goes a long way.

28 MLO { 05.18.10 at 11:23 pm }

There are places that children really should not be. There are events and places that children would be exposed to things that are inappropriate – some local businesses in my neck of the woods come to mind.

Also, there are medical arenas where children are most definitely not allowed or welcome because they are a threat to the health of the parents. It isn’t their fault, it is simply a fact of life that children are a vector for everything that is going around town at the time. Kids, because their immune systems are not yet mature, pick up things that adults will not. (Sick adults should also be kept away from these folks.) There are also places that are just plain dangerous for children to be – and, yes, I have seen children in those places due to idiot parents.

Well-behaved children – like well-behaved adults – should be welcome in most places. Rude people – adult or children – should be made to feel unwelcome. And, well, I would include people with too much perfume on since that is a health hazard – just like smoking. Most of the ingredients in perfume are not safe.

If people actually had sense, the world would work a lot better.

29 Bea { 05.19.10 at 12:37 am }

Disclaimer: I didn’t read the links.

Fundamentally, I agree with you, more so after the comments section, because you have clarified some things.

I think it does boil down to there being a code of conduct for various places, rather than an age limit as such. And I think kids get a little extra leeway, but I also think it is up to parents to “not put them in social situations where they’re doomed to fail” as you put it (although yes, that’s hit and miss, so a plan B is always needed and sometimes even then there will be failures). I would say a parent should try to arrange the family activities within “reasonable” limits of the children’s ability to cope with them. I would also say that if you don’t want people talking during your film, maybe it’s not a good idea to go to a daytime or early evening session of a kid’s movie during the school holidays.

I don’t think child-free spaces should be limited to bars and places of gambling. There is actually an over-18’s-only cafe in this town which doesn’t sell alcohol – just food and coffee. It was a great place to get away to during our time of infertility, and I’m still glad it’s there for people who want to be away from kids for whatever reason for a night. There’s a big sign on the door explaining that it is over eighteen only. I think there are plenty of parents-only spaces in society, so it seems fair enough that it should work the other way around from time to time. In any case, there’s several other cafes on the street where you can take your stroller, so no-one really misses out.

Unfortunately, I think there is an attitude of entitlement out there amongst some parents. It has to be said that I’ve rarely come across it in real life, because most people are willing to give and take. I think it probably stems from some people’s insecurity at not having 100% perfect TV kids (as if anyone else does!), and perhaps a bit of frustration at having to say goodbye to their former child-free life (which, yes, but let’s not take it out on everyone around us, please).


30 Bea { 05.19.10 at 1:15 am }

P.S. The stroller ban in buildings is silly, though.


31 Mina { 05.19.10 at 3:51 am }

Some concepts change their meaning throughout time. Like ‘ambitious’ – it used to be a very bad thing 100 years ago, now it is a sought-after feature in a new recruit, for example.
The same goes for ‘selfish’, I think.
It used to be baaaaaaad, very baaaad. Nowadays is not that bad any more, is it? It is still used as an insult, but somehow it gained more acceptable nuances. As in ‘I am not selfish, I am placing myself at the center of my endeavours to feel good and I should not be blamed, because if I don’t do it, no one will in this selfish world’. Which translates into forgetting about common social rules at times.
This is one of the reasons why there are articles like you quoted, Mel. Our own needs have supremacy over anything else, logic or not. If I do not want to hear a child during my dinner, I have the right to speak out and find peers with the same mind frame and get together and set up rules that suit our needs. The rest – they can do the same and set up rules and an environment that suits their needs. This is the essence of freedom, after all.

In this pursuit of our own personal brand of happiness and contentment, we often forget about courtesy, as you well point out. We no longer care for the others and almost never give them the benefit of the doubt. And we get so self-absorbed that nothing else matters. It happens on both sides, those who do not like children, as well as parents.

But being rude never solves anything. And sadly manners are almost always forgotten in such circumstances. I am very happy to see that you haven’t forgotten yours, even though I consider you very justified in your ‘tantrum’. Once again, chapeau to you, Mel. This is why you are our voice. 😉

32 Terry Elisabeth { 05.19.10 at 10:20 am }

You are totally right. Strollers are a necessity and it would be horrible to ban people from anywhere because they scream, cry, or run…

But I know from people around me (I include myself) that what people resent are not the kids or the parents. It’s same with every other aspect of social interaction : it’s about respect of social rules or etiquette. It’s about respecting other people even if they don’t have kids, even if they have some.

For example, the huge strollers in vogue since 2004 ? It’s okay and necessary to have one where I live because without it you can’t go anywhere when it snows. However, some parents don’t seem to understand that it would be polite to not take the whole sidewalk while they wait for the bus. They take the whole thing from street to lawn instead of parking themselves on the other side so pedestrians and other strollers can use the sidewalk.

Rules of society still apply when someone has a kid. Myself, I assume that certain restaurants like McD will have kids and I assume they will run everywhere and talk loudly and it’s ok. I also assume that if I go at the library kids will be there and they might sing, talk a bit loud and have fun together and it’s ok. When I go to a restaurant a bit less family friendly, I hope that parents who bring kids will do some parenting if there is a tantrum, food throwing and yelling. If I’m in a university library, I hope that parents who bring kids will do some parenting instead of allowing the kids to disturb students.

Just basic politeness.

33 susy { 05.19.10 at 11:04 am }

Verbal tantrum or not, I love it.

I haven’t read the links, but have come across this recently. I’ve been to 2 churches this month that doesn’t allow strollers inside. While I understand it could be a fire hazard or there simply is “no room” for it (and gasp! a double or triple!) it kind of catches you off guard when you’re going somewhere and don’t even think twice if it’ll be a problem b/c it’s essentially a family – friendly envoirnment. Other churches, I’ve seen, have the strollers all on the side aisles but accomodate. So, it kind of threw me off for the same reasons you said that the little human beings can’t keep up or can’t walk on their own. So, yes, I totally get this. And not only on the stroller / children ban – but completely on the wheelchair issue too.

And as an aside, I skimmed the comments, and I’m a little excited to see others that aren’t “regulars” chiming in on YOUR blog.

34 katie { 05.19.10 at 11:10 am }

I am with you on a lot of this but people managed just fine to get their kids places – many of them public – before strollers.

I’m happy for kids to wake up and howl when they are taken out of their stroller if it means there is actually room to get on the bus – especially for a wheelchair user.

35 Erica { 05.19.10 at 11:13 am }

I’ve never had an evening “ruined” or even seriously damaged by a child crying or having a tantrum. Which makes me think that more parents are mindful of those around them than not.

It does seem like certain places & people set parents up to fail – if moms can get removed from airplanes for breastfeeding (a pretty effective way to soothe a vocal infant) AND for crying – well, no wonder travel is stressful.

36 Kir { 05.19.10 at 12:16 pm }

I am going to have a verbal tantrum. Mostly because even before I had children, I was very sensitive to parents with a child having a tantrum. I was careful to NOT say things like, “OMG, not My child” etc…because being a child myself (and acting like one occasionally myself) I know that sometimes your emotions get the best of you,,,,no doubt at 9 months or 3 yrs of age..it has to be even worse.

that said, I don’t understand people that can be so impatient with the youth of our world. I think most of my stress lately comes from “How my children are acting and how does that directly affect me and how people see me” when I shouldn’t have to think about that at all. My children, are CHILDREN. People in the world…the next generation , the consumers of tomorrow (and today..BTW, they “buy a lot of sh*t right now through me you know) and just as they can sometimes act ‘wrongly” so can you…and you’re an adult. *OOOH makes me sooo mad*

I also have a problem with Church etc…we have a “room” but I swear to you there are more older , NO KIDS , people in that room who love to give us the evil eye (WTF) if they don’t behave like their definiton of “good” which is RIDICULOUS , go sit in the general pop ..not here in the quiet , KID room. UGHHHH

I digress. Children are always going to be in the world and I agree with Erica my day, my life etc have never been ruined by a child or their tantrum.

Adults on the phone, having their own tantrums..absolutely.

37 Stacie { 05.19.10 at 12:39 pm }

I end up on the fence.

A restaurant once refused to seat me because I had a stroller. Refused. This still makes me angry.

On the other hand, I go out to fancy restaurants to get away from children and am not especially amused by over-tired children fussing at a restaurant just about guaranteed not to have food they’ll like when I am out at such. However, it would never occur to me to actually scold the parents for bringing their kids someplace they are pretty much destined to be miserable at because that would be… just inconceivably rude.

38 Kate (Bee In The Bonnet) { 05.19.10 at 3:34 pm }

Ugh. I keep trying to be brief in my reply and keep finding myself rambling about societal obligations, and common courtesies and laws to protect society from the stupidity of the few…

Let me just say that if a restaurant has a policy I dislike (or a store or a theater, etc.), I simply refuse to patronize them. I vote with my dollars, as it were.

We allow places of business to make general rules for how they prefer to operate. And sadly, there are enough parents who choose not to parent their children that some restaurants (or stores, or theaters or whatever) decide to make rules to protect their patrons from the stupidity or rudeness of a few. When I choose a restaurant, I’m not just choosing the food and the service– I’m also choosing the atmosphere (otherwise, why would restaurants put any thought into their decor, period? If I was just buying the food and the person to serve it to me, why wouldn’t all restaurants look like the McDonald’s down the street from me?). So when I choose a tiny restaurant with intimate rooms, and choose to go there late at night, I am *absolutely* paying for the right to an enjoyable dining experience, which includes (for me) thinking that the asshole mother who brings her screaming, melt-down-level, 4-year-old into said restaurant apparently needs to have a rule made to bar her from entering the restaurant, because she *clearly* doesn’t get it.

Like the morons who think it’s okay to let their 5th grader take a .22-caliber pistol to school for show and tell (their defense was that it was unloaded), some parents just don’t get it, and it is for those parents that the rest of society suffers under sweeping rules regarding how to not be a total jerk.

Is it fair? Maybe not. Is it ageist? Sure (though ageism as a protected class “-ism” specifically refers to the elderly– children are a separate class, and are legally treated as such, in not only the positive aspects –ie, juvenile court system– but the negative as well– having no real constitutional rights– so we cannot really call that ageism, in the way that there isn’t any such thing as “reverse racism” toward the majority class, so much as “discrimination based on race”). But the fact remains that until all members of society can behave with a modicum of consideration for other members of society, there will be rules made to keep the inconsiderate ones from ruining things for the rest of us.

Maybe I’ll feel differently once these boys are on the outside, but I just cannot imagine a scenario where I would sit in a quiet, intimate, expensive restaurant at 9:30 p.m. with my four-year-old sobbing, telling me how tired he is, pleading with me to take him home, while my friend and I converse over his screams, ignoring him in totality, and order a third bottle of wine. Just don’t see that one happening. And if it did, I really hope someone would have the good sense to point out to me what a crappy move that would be. I really hope the maitre d’ would stop me at the door with my screaming, pleading 4-year-old and ask me to either calm the child or to come back another time, since I apparently wouldn’t have the good sense to do so myself.

So much for brevity… I give up! I just totally understand the desire of businesses to create the type of environment they’d like, and the right of customers to patronize a place (or not) based on their approval (or disapproval) of the policies the establishment espouses.

39 Ellen K. { 05.20.10 at 9:42 am }

I’m usually more inclined to side with a business that discourages child patrons if a few bad apples have spoiled the lot. Recently a kid-friendly coffee house changed its policies because some parents were abusing them — sending a bunch of kids in with one adult, asking baristas to keep an eye on a child while the parent uses the restroom, and not making concerted efforts to curtail the children. And so I do think a restaurant has a right to say that strollers aren’t allowed. I probably won’t patronize that business, and as a twin mom I think it’s especially unfortunate, because I have to rely on strollers more often than a parent of a single child or two children of different ages. But where, exactly, are restauranteurs supposed to park the enormous strollers that are so popular? Space is at a premium. And who is liable if a $700 stroller is stolen?

But I think that parents are more often thoughtless than inconsiderate. They go through the motions; they get caught up in the logistics that are known — how to get out of the door with children — and can have a hard time adjusting to the unexpected, and so things can get tense. We take our 18mo twins to our favorite neighborhood restaurant, usually once a month, and it’s very child friendly; we have great service because we have been “regulars” for years — but once we decided to walk, pushing the girls in a Maclaren double umbrella stroller, and belatedly realized that there was really no place to park even a small folded stroller. I asked the hostess if we could leave it behind her stand and she agreed, but I felt very embarrassed because it was clearly not standard. And sometimes a doorway isn’t really ADA compliant and I can’t get through the door with the stroller, or there are no cutouts for wheelchairs on a sidewalk, or we are pushing the naptime/bedtime limits even by 10 minutes, or there aren’t enough high chairs to go around. And I’m sure I look pretty grumpy on these occasions. So courtesy is a learning process for parents, possibly even more so than for children, and it has to be re-learned as children go through different developmental stages.

But I did read those articles last week and thought that most of the tips were good

40 Calliope { 05.20.10 at 7:11 pm }

When I would take my Grandmother out for coffee or to a book store (because sometimes being social can be quite good for people suffering from Alzheimer’s) I would always brace myself for something iiiiiiiinteresting to happen. And it always would- GM would tell a waitress that she looked like a man, or fat, or she would start to unbutton her blouse.

That is when I would smile and quietly hand over a little card I made and usually the card would put people at ease. On it I wrote: “This woman is my Grandmother. She has Alzheimer’s. We appreciate your kindness.”

Because when you looked at my sweet Grandmother it wasn’t always obvious that she wasn’t really aware of the things that were coming out of her mouth.

As for W- well he is clearly a baby. Clearly not able to communicate the way either of us would like at the moment. And I shouldn’t need a card to explain that.

That being said- I often fear that his moments of self expression will ruin someone’s day so I opt to not take him to settings were his shrills will give someone angina. Instead I prefer the awesome social settings of friend’s basement playrooms and the sacred aisles of IKEA.

41 Stephanie { 05.20.10 at 9:30 pm }

I just wish that the general public would cut most parents a little bit of slack. I’ve seen unruly hooligans, true, but I am more likely to see an exuberant toddler with a parent anxiously in tow, trying to reign the little tyke in. Of course, maybe my eyes are now trained to see that crease that pops up between the eyebrows that is a sure indicator that the parent in question is as pained by this display as the grumblers around her/him.

It’s amazing how you can plan things just so and yet have an outing go horribly, unpredictably awry. Every aspect of past, successful outings could be replicated. Napped? Check. Container full of favorite snack of the moment? Check. Favorite toys? Check. Bottle of favorite drink? Check. Emergency plug to placate in the event of embarrassing social tantrum? Check. Stickers? Check. No cold/flu/fever? Check. Alllllllright…. let’s do this!

Then, of course, you get to the Chipotle and the child screams from the minute you enter until the minute you slink out five minutes later with the now take-out bag of bean burrito bowls.

I get the frustration that people feel when they observe a child running amok with no parents in sight. But if you see a parent with a furrowed brow desperately trying to dart behind the child, please know that we are doing our best to make this better for everyone.

42 TeamWinks { 05.21.10 at 7:00 am }

I have a child who will always need either a stroller or a wheelchair. I have a child who has no ability to control the volume of his voice. As in, it doesn’t matter how many times you try to convey how to speak softly, he cannot do it on demand. It’s a breathing and muscle control issue, and due to his condition he can’t do it. I know my children’s limitations, and practice good parenting. Yet, I still can’t help but get angry. He has a right to a good evening too. His evening shouldn’t be ruined by angry darting glares or rude comments about poor parenting. I’m really careful not to go to restaurants at naptime. We use common sense. If a child, who has every right to be there, is bothering you, move to another table. If it’s your child who is screaming in the theater, know that there are often movie theaters that have showings designated for parents bringing small children (they aren’t as dark or loud during that showing, very cool option!) If it’s on an air plane, suck it up and deal people. It’s a mode of transportation that doesn’t lend itself to being comfortable for anybody. I’m sure the parents don’t want their child to be THAT CHILD any more than you want to hear it. They have ears and a heart after all, no matter how they try to play it off.

Just saying, I agree with Mel.

43 luna { 05.22.10 at 2:35 am }

it’s really about responsible parenting and knowing your kid. I think it’s the parents who abuse social norms when they let a child run rampant in a restaurant without, well, parenting. granted, as you said, you can’t always control your kid. but you can know what is socially acceptable behavior, and I think it’s fair to expect parents to follow it.

we just opted not to take baby J out on my birthday because she was fussing all day, missed her naps and was generally quite ornery. I pictured her screaming and tossing her food on the floor. not a fun time for mama and papa. sure, I wanted to go out, but takeaway was delicious too.

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