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Are You Raising Restaurant Ready Children?

Child-french-laundry

Photo by Isla Bell

Dear Parents:

You may not be aware of, but when you walk into a restaurant with your beautiful baby in your paisley Baby Bjorn wrap or with your MacLauren stroller and your gracious host walks your six top over to your table – your servers eyes may scan the insides of themselves and sigh in worry. The volatility of children can keep a server in suspense and if you have ever been privy to the after shift conversations in restaurants you will hear many complaints about children. Chicago chef Grant Achatz tweeted negatively about a couple who brought in a crying eight month old and a restaurant in Monterey erected a sign outside their doors pretty much banning children. Sometimes it seems as if all the onus is placed on the child as some villain and as a parent I take offense. As a protective parent you may feel that ‘people just have an issue with children’, roll your eyes and ignore the real cause of these issues – who REALLY is the problem… You.

Now let’s pull it together and put our big kid undies on and accept responsibility for how OUR children behave. I work in this industry and I also have two children who come with my wife and I wherever we go pretty much, so I have seen this from both ends and I want to offer a little perspective to my fellow papa/mama bears and also tips on raising restaurant ready children:

One of the biggest complaints is when children are allowed to run amok in the restaurant. I should not have to say that this is not acceptable. For one it is a huge safety hazard for everyone, especially the child. Restaurants have traffic coming from all directions. Bussers with large tubs, other guests and servers with everything from hot soups, cast iron skillets, heavy porcelain plates to large thin wine glasses. Many of us were raised hearing “Sit down. This is not a playground” and no matter how much we modernize our parenting approaches, this still applies.

As annoying as it can be, I love hearing children talking, enthusiastically engaging in some pointless jumbled conversation and laughing hysterically, but we must be aware of the other diners. I’m sure if you actually finally had a night off without the kids, got dressed in something more than jeans and workout clothes and had the opportunity to have a real conversation with your special person, you’d hate that night being ruined by a loud unruly table. This isn’t communist China, but it isn’t Outside Lands either and just as we teach our children to be considerate of others we must remember that also. Consideration is the key when going out with children. Consider the time of day, the kind of restaurant and your child’s mood. If you child cries when they wake up or they are getting out of line, then take them away from the table quickly until they calm down. No discussion. You should not force others to endure you. Don’t ruin the experience of others around you because you want to go out. Doing so is selfish and inconsiderate and that’s not how big kids act.

I need to stress that you must know your child. You know their moods and behaviors. You know if they are shy or picky. You also know if they act in such a way that you can’t take them to certain places (could be for medical/emotional reasons). It may be a hard system to accept, but we must work within that system. I am a huge proponent of taking children out. When children go out regularly they learn different social skills and social languages. They see people working, they learn manners, respect and how to interact with strangers. They can learn about new foods and develop their palates early and there is a magic with introducing children to the world of fine dining and allowing them to see high level service, gorgeous enchanting environments and pride and passion in service and craft. It is a beautiful thing.

I’ll save child rearing styles for another day. However you raise your child whether stern and strict or modern and democratic, the children must behave themselves. This is the first rule of fight club. Sometimes kids are kids and some are way more difficult than others for reasons out of their control, but almost all of a child’s behavior is a direct reflection of their parents. You can’t be lazy and expect well behaved children. When a child runs away from the table and causes a tray of entrees to be dropped possibly injuring the child, causing a mess and forcing new food to be made on the fly in front of other orders thus delaying service time – that’s not the child’s fault. That’s the parents fault. If you want to take your children out to plays, museums and restaurants – I love that, but YOU must raise them ready for that. A wise woman once said:

“Children are like rose bushes, they both reflect their care”

Sincerely,

Jamal Frederick

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Jamal Frederick - Second Hand Scribe

Jamal Frederick - Second Hand Scribe

Born in all the jazz that is Fillmore, San Francisco, Jamal has moved all around the beautiful Bay Area. Currently living in the SF diaspora, the married Jamal raises babies, makes cocktails and writes. He is currently working on multiple projects with the most recent being his San Francisco-centric cocktail book: Souvenir. Follow him online, find him, try his drinks, read his writing and have a good conversation with him, he needs adult company...

  • m

    Can we also add to this, if you allow your children to make a huge mess, either clean up after them as best you can or offer copious apologies and tip profusely for the extra mess.

  • Jon Antis

    .At first I thought this might be a spoof. But the author let’s himself off the hook by saying in the last paragraph, “Sometimes kids are kids…” which is the absolute truth. This guy sounds like a persnickety food snob/chef/waiter. I say just deal with it. That’s all

  • http://www.mamasguide.co Lesly::Mamas Guide

    Absolutely! Yes, please and thank you. It seems like a small thing but as more people live in cities more kids are popping up everywhere, and parents need to be responsible for and aware of what they are doing. Restaurants are as good a place to start as any.

  • Caballo Reindo

    Why is this a new thing? Because SF is now home for a bunch of IT douchbags, and new shitty gastrique spots? SHUT UP AN SERVE MY FOOD.

  • Aragon131

    okay so I’ll bring my dog to the restaurant and if he bites you? DEAL WITH IT! He’s just being a dog! ” You can’t be lazy and expect well behaved children. ” He’s not a snob he’s a civilized human being. and if you were too you’d realize you need to be considerate of those around you. Otherwise you’re just a bad parent.

  • Shira

    I have worked in the industry for years and have taken my son to restaurants since he was an infant. He understands that he is in a public place and that people are also trying to do their job and he respects that as he knows that’s mommy’s line of work. What i don’t like about this article is the assumption that we have to control the volume of conversation and tip-toe around other adults. As an industry veteran i have heard and seen it all and very rarely do i reference a ridiculious story about a toddler. Its usually about an inconsiderste “adult” seated at a table next to mine or a drunk guy my bar. Adults tend to be the loudest and rudest. Children are just mini adults and are not there at our be hest. They need to be told when their out of line just like adults but we give the latter a pass. I think it’s fair to say that we ALL need to be mindful of eachother and appreciate that everyone is trying to relax and enjoy themselves. In short this article is bs.

  • wow

    You sound like a royal prick.

  • wow

    Just deal with it? You are part of the problem.

  • Caballo Reindo

    Wow, you sound either like someone who wouldn’t recognize sarcasm if it slapped you in the face. Or maybe some new hipster prick parent, who loves to tell other parents how to parent. That’s my favorite. Let’s create a whole blog about other parents kids and their behavior while at [X]. Let me guess- you’re one of those live/work loft tenants who complains about the noise from the bar downstairs? Someone let their kids into your favorite speakeasy? Seriously, stfu.

  • wow

    Wow, quite a bit of assumptions based on five words. You must be very clever. There’s some sarcasm slapping you in the face. Please do tell me what else you know about me based on this exchange!

  • Caballo Reindo

    Well, based on you’re assumption that I’m a royal prick, I’d say I’ve nailed it.

  • Caballo Reindo

    You’re fighting everyone aren’t you? Love the picture of the child that was chosen for this BLOG.

  • wow

    I’m not sure how you figure, It seems based on your bizarre out of the hat characterizations based on your own insecurity that I may be closer to nailing it. Cheers.

  • Caballo Reindo

    Well, you haven’t denied it. I’ll at least say that my original comment was in jest and alcohol fueled. What’s your excuse for replying to a 3 month old comment from a poorly written blog?

  • wow

    I have taken the effort to deny it because its so ridiculously off base that i didn’t feel the need. But no, I am very far from a hipster, a parent, or a loft dweller.

    My excuse? I do not need an excuse, theres a comment section for commenting.

    Saying “SHUT UP AND SERVE MY FOOD” sounds pretty rude.

  • Caballo Reindo

    Oh, you you’re “far from a parent”. Well, let’s, FOR EVEYONE”S SAKE, hope you stay Far From Being A Parent. Don’t need any more breeders in Frisco.

  • wow

    Yikes, does your nurse know you got out again?

  • Caballo Reindo

    Wow, I got you here all day don’t I?

  • Aragon131

    in short you are a shitty Mom

    “What i don’t like about this article is the assumption that we have to control the volume of conversation and tip-toe around other adults”

    its called being considerate of others. But clearly you are disgusted with the idea

  • Shira

    You clearly did not thoroughly read my comment and just wanted to open with a super rude comment. Trump supporter? Drunk? Perhaps both. I have managed bars and have been bartending for years. My child does NOT run around yelling or touching things that aren’t his. He acts the way one is supposed to in a public place (it must be from all that shitty parenting) . My point is that the problem isn’t “children” it’s people in general who don’t respect others around them, who are rude and on their phones. I have personally run into more ill-mannered adults than kids and with your opener i just added one more to the list.

  • Senor_Wences

    What always drives me nuts is when children stand on the seating with their dirty shoes. Parents just sit there and let them do it.

  • Senor_Wences

    Me and my tech bro brogrammer brethren want to bro down in your restaurants and broclaim our bro space, bro.

  • Caballo Reindo

    Bro….Just…. Seriously, bro.