How would you react if you walked through the doors of a restaurant with your kids and were handed one of these:
“Children at Cuchara don’t run or wander around the restaurant. They stay seated and ask their parents to take them to the restroom. They don’t scream, throw tantrums or touch the walls, murals, windows or anything of the other patrons. They are respectful!!”
Cuchara restaurant in Houston just spent $1500 to re-plaster and repaint a mural on one of their walls that was damaged by a child. It’s clearly caused them to be wary of small children, and led them to print up cards like the one above. Owner Ana Beaven told the Houston Press that a child scratched the wall extensively with a coin. She said, “His mother was texting at the table. We talked to her and she was almost aggressive. She said, ‘He’s just a little kid. He was expressing himself.’” The mother offered to pay for the damage, but sent the restaurant a check for $40, which didn’t even come close to covering the cost of repair. The restaurant’s insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by children.
Everyone has a horror story of witnessing misbehaving kids in restaurants: I have more than my share. I worked in a family-friendly restaurant in Brooklyn for many years. But we often forget that the horror stories are peppered amongst hundreds of other instances of children behaving well, sitting next to conscientious parents. The child running around the restaurant wreaking havoc accompanied by the adult who doesn’t seem to care is the exception, not the rule. These parents are the worst, and should be swiftly asked to leave. But parents who control their children and teach them how to act in public should not be harassed because other parents happen to be oblivious.
If I was handed a card like this when I walked through the doors of a restaurant, I would leave. Because I don’t want an infantilizing, passive-aggressive note shoved in my face when I’m about to give an establishment my money. I’d rather spend it somewhere else. If you’re handing a card with writing on it to the parents of small children — you’re handing it to the parents, not the small children. So at least word it as if you are speaking to an adult, and not a child. Why stop here? Why not print up cards that say, “Adults at Cuchara do not drink until they become intoxicated. They don’t speak loudly on their phones, or leave tips that are less than 20%. They are respectfull!!” How do you think that would go over?
The few parents who act oblivious that there’s a world around them have ruined it for the rest of us. There’s a hyper-sensitivity to children in public places, and it keeps getting worse. Everyone, relax. Deal with the offenders, don’t give attitude to everyone else.
Babies in restaurants are the new babies on a plane: people seize up when they see one. When you are a parent of a small child and you walk on a plane, there is a palpable tension around you. Everyone assumes the worst. This is now happening in just about all public places, thanks to parents who don’t parent. But I don’t want to be treated differently because of those parents. So if you hand me a card like this, you can’t have my money.
I think that’s fair.