Because I could not stop for death....

I got knocked up instead...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

No KIDS Allowed


I love this man. I shouldn't be able to take my kids everywhere, cause when I go out with my husband WITHOUT my kids, I want the quiet....

To him, it was a simple reminder to parents to keep an eye on their children and set some limits. But to some parents in his North Side Chicago neighborhood, the sign may as well have read, "If you have kids, you're not welcome."
That one little notice, adorned with pastel hand prints, has become a lightning rod in a larger debate over parenting and misbehaving children.
"It's not about the kids," says McCauley, the 44-year-old owner of A Taste of Heaven cafe, who has no children but claims to like them a lot. "It's about the parents who are with them. Are they supervising and guiding them?
"I'm just asking that they are considerate to people around them."
While he has created some enemies in his neighborhood, McCauley has received hundreds of calls and more than 600 letters, the overwhelming majority of them supportive. One letter-writer from Alabama typed out in bold letters: "In my opinion, you're a hero! Keep it up."
It is a sentiment that people feel increasingly comfortable expressing. Online bloggers regularly make impassioned pleas for child-free zones in public, while e-mailers have been forwarding a photograph of a sign in an unidentified business that reads, "Unattended Children Will Be Given an Espresso and a Puppy."
While it is common policy for upscale restaurants to bar children, owners of other types of businesses also are setting limits on kids.
The Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, for instance, does not allow visitors who aren't guests to have strollers; hotel officials say it is to prevent crashes with other pedestrians. The Bellagio Hotel does not take guests younger than 18 without special permission.

McCauley has received hundreds of supportive phone calls and letters.
Some parents are fine with the limit-setting and complain that too many of their peers take their kids to places traditionally meant for adults, such as late-night movies and rock concerts.
Robin Piccini, a 42-year-old mom in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, gets annoyed when she has hired a baby sitter for her daughter, only to end up seated at a restaurant next to unruly kids.
"I am paying the same price so that I can have a relaxing dinner, but because there are lazy parents out there, my dinner has to be stressful and tense," she says. "How fair is that?"
Still, while they agree that some parents push the boundaries too far, other weary parents feel under siege -- and misunderstood.
"Don't get me wrong. As a parent, I have an arsenal that includes the deadly stare, loss of privileges and 'We're going back to the car, RIGHT NOW!"' says Angela Toda, a 38-year-old mother of two small children in College Park, Maryland. "But the bottom line is, there are certain moments that all kids and parents have -- and sometimes your kid is going to lose it in a public place."
She says she does not usually respond well to other people's interference, "unless it is a sympathetic look."
Parents in Port Melbourne, Australia, also were upset last year when a sign appeared on the restaurant door at the Clare Castle Hotel stating that children were welcome only if they stayed in their seats. The establishment has since changed hands and dropped the policy, which new owner Michael Farrant says makes no sense in a neighborhood filled with young families.
"I like the kids running about," says Farrant, a father of three, including a 2-year-old. "I know what it's like with a little one. Sometimes, there's no controlling them."
Still other business owners are creating separate spaces for kids and families, in an attempt to accommodate as many generations as possible.
All Booked Up in Suffolk, Va., is among bookstores that have separate sections where kids can play and rest. Many ballparks have alcohol-free "family sections." And a few restaurants have added separate dining areas for parents with children.
Zulema Suarez, a professor who studies parenting, applauds attempts to strike a balance.
"There needs to be a give and take," says Suarez, an associate professor of social work at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. "Children don't need to be allowed to run wild and free, but they do need to be allowed to express themselves."
Too often, though, our cultural emphasis on freedom and individual rights gets taken to the extreme, becoming "a kind of selfish entitlement that undermines our ability to function as a civil community," says George Scarlett, a professor of child development at Tufts University in Boston.
"The rights of any one individual -- whether he or she be a parent, child or stranger -- do not negate the rights of others."


At 6:27 PM, Blogger Vicky said...

I totally agree. If I have spent the money to hire a babysitter and go out for dinner, I don't want to be watching other people's monsters act up! Also, my kids have NEVER been allowed to act up in public...when they did they were promptly removed from the building until they could act properly.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Kris said...

My husband took our daughter out of the mall Saturday for trying to run away to the playground after he said "no" because he did not have the time to sit and watch her play. She had a meltdown on the way to the car, yelling and screaming for her Mommy. She was not yelled at, spanked, jerked, or in any way physically or verbally abused, but was simply led out of the mall by the hand and put into her car seat. A woman in a large SUV came up behind him and blocked him in and accused him of trying to abduct her. Apparently she questioned my daughter, as well... who used her exceptional drama queen talents to answer with continued screaming about her Mommy who was still in the mall. He did finally convince her to leave, but we both were on pins and needles the rest of the day, expecting the police to come to the door. My question is this? Are we parents supposed to discipline our children or not? I hear the message that "parents are lazy" and don't discipline their children, yet disciplining our own children in public is unacceptable. I've heard of the DFS being called on parents who were not being abusive, but were merely disciplining their child in public. I guess we're just supposed to stay home and lock them in the closet...

At 8:48 AM, Blogger thordora said...

ok, THAT is insane Kris. But I worry about that as well, from both sides of the fence. But for someone to BLOCK your car-hell, I'D call the cops on her. You shouldn't have to prove it's your kid.

And you're right, you're dammed if you do and dammed if you don't. Sometimes I get nervous when I see a parent losing it, and wonder if I should offer help, but mostly, I see the same situations I put up with, or I see situations that could be avoided by naps and food. That said, sometimes, kids lose it. I wonder if the SUV idiot even has kids, and fully grasps the dramatic abilities of a little girl. Lord knows I could put on one hell of a show....

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Amy said...

Well, I am a little torn on this whole thing. The SUV driver who blocked the commenter's husband... I wonder how many parents of abducted children wished that someone had done that for their child? I think of Samantha Runyan who was said to be kicking and screaming when her murderer dragged her out of her yard. Sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry.

On the other end of things... I have a 14 yr. old, 10 yr. old and 2 yr. old. We have entered the terrible twos and she can be a handful, out of respect for other patrons I do NOT take her to restaurants or shops that are more grown up oriented. There's no reason to make people share in my occasional misery.

That being said, my older two from the ages of 3 on - have never given us a lick of trouble in public. We are often complimented on how well our children behave. But, admittedly, it took some training. I have been known to kick under the table (not hard... just enough to gain their attention) and I have been known to pinch a leg. Those are the last resorts after giving the "look that could kill." My kids have always known that I would absolutely NOT tolerate poor behavior in public and as such they've been treated to many wonderful experiences because they behave.

The two year-old has put a damper on our social life and we go to more pizza parlors and family oriented restaurants now than we used to... but eventually she'll understand how it works as well. :o)


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