Every time we write about child-friendly restaurants on this site, we get an almost equal flurry of opposing opinions.
Half the people say ‘Fantastic, thanks so much, we’ll be there tomorrow with the family’ and the other half go ‘Fantastic, thanks so much, now I know where to avoid forever so I don’t have to dine in the proximity of evil demon spawn.’
Why do kids have such a bad reputation when they go out to restaurants? It’s not that way in Europe where children are welcomed and encouraged and family dining is seen as an integral part of life and culture.
Kids learn so much at a dinner table – how to use cutlery, how to chew with their mouths closed, how to make conversation and interact with adults.
They learn to try new foods, experience different tastes and for parents, it’s a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with their kids without the intrusive noise of TV, computers and cell phones.
Wouldn’t you want this to happen in your restaurant? I know I would.
And yet, when we ran a restaurant, we were probably the biggest kid-haters in the universe.
Kids who run around, bumping into waiters and knocking over glasses, kids who scream and shout and annoy other patrons, kids who open and empty out every single sugar sachet on the table and add tomato sauce whilst their parents do NOTHING about it (yes, really).
Kids who demand chips, chips, chips, eat them and wipe their greasy fingers on the seats – is this really the positive European dining experience of our dreams?
Of course not and whose fault is it? I blame the Spur.
People are so full of how wonderful the Spur is for kids and families but actually, I think it’s one of the worst places in the world.
Kids need to learn to treat a restaurant and those who work in it with respect.
How can that possibly happen when they are encouraged to stick an Indian band on their heads and run around screaming like lunatics?
And because their behaviour is tolerated, because parents see all the other kids doing it and think 'Aw, what the hell, I can’t be bothered,' then children think this is acceptable, and if it’s okay here, then it’s okay in every other restaurant, because we can’t expect kids to distinguish between Spur and Societi Bistro.
Take it from me – it’s not okay. The only bit of ‘taking it easy’ when you go out for dinner as a family is that you don’t have to cook and wash-up.
You STILL have to supervise your child, mind his manners, ensure that he doesn’t cause danger/harm/annoyance to anyone else around him – you’d do all this in the playground or the park, so why is a restaurant any different?
And if you don’t? Well, don’t be surprised if your kid ‘trips’ and falls over when he runs past my table.
Don’t be offended when I ask for your address so I can forward my dry-cleaning bill after your daughter squirts ketchup on my jacket.
And if I meet your kid in the loo and they come back crying and tearful because the nasty lady told them she was going to cut them up and feed them to the fishes, it’s not my fault.
Just blame it on the Spur.
Follow @CathyMarston on twitter.
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