lately, there has been a push for kids-free places, such as kids-free restaurants or kids-free movie nights. obviously, this is an extremely polarizing topic–on one hand, parents will probably scream bloody murder if they can’t enjoy a night out with their precious babies. on the other hand, i can see how other patrons have to deal with unruly kids while trying to enjoy a night on the town. i’m not taking sides yet, but here are some stories for you.
i was at my local fast food burger joint the other day. before i got in line to order, i went to the bathroom to wash my hands. when i opened the door, there were three kids covered in i’m not sure what–ink, black dirt, who knows–who were cleaning themselves up using the faucet. let’s just say they were kind of messy, and they were hogging the only faucet in the restroom. one of the kids was polite enough to let me use the faucet, but they weren’t exactly careful swinging their soap-covered arms around either. i got out there as quickly as i could.
when i sat down to eat, there was a family sitting in the table in front of me–dad, mom, and two kids, the younger looked to be about two or three years old. the kids were having a good time of course; they were laughing, making faces at each other, and vying for the parents’ attention. the younger kid decided then that it was a good time to make finger-grease art; he took his grease-covered index finger and proceeded to draw patterns on the clear partition next to the table. before the impromptu art class began, another family walked in with two kids who decided to scream like banshees. after those families left, there were mystery ketchup splatters on the ground, which the workers had to clean up. fortunately no one stepped in it, so that was good news.
here’s another story. some time ago i was in a retail store returning some stuff. there was a family in front of me waiting to do the same. the couple had a daughter who was about two years old. the kid played peek-a-boo with the parents and was having a blast. the kid’s smile, when she opened up her hands to look at the parents, was so pure & full of joy that you just wanted to pick the kid right up and give her a big smooch on her cheeks. i was smiling, the parents were smiling, and were there any more people in line, no doubt they would’ve smiled too.
so lies the dilemma: do we allow kids in businesses or what?
personally i don’t really have a good idea. i mean, if i want to take someone special out on the town and maybe shell out a couple of hundred bucks for dinner, or a quiet night with close friends, i certainly don’t want the screaming banshees anywhere near me to ruin my good time, and i would question the sanity of the parents who thought bringing their colicky three-year-old to dinner was a good idea. on the other hand, i don’t want to see the parents denied the opportunity to spend time with their children; you can’t buy those memories, only experience them, and the only way to have those memories is to let the child participate in activities like going out for dinner. i think some businesses have a good idea–have child-free nights where only adults can patronize the establishment, and other nights when children are allowed in. as consumers, we should also prepare ourselves mentally and figure out which businesses are likely to have kids around, and avoid them when we’re planning a special night out. (if you go to mcdonald’s, in-n-out, or toys-r-us, expect plenty of kids there.) living in a free and civilized country, we have to find ways to interact with, and sometimes around, others.
also, something creepy, but good creepy. once upon a time long ago, i was hanging out at the ph with my friend gee golly late at night. anyway, gee and i decided that we should grab some breakfast. she told me about this magical ihop in the breakfast land that has to be seen to be believed, so off we went. as we parted the misty fog, there it was standing at a street corner, the blue glow of the sign as beacons guiding us in. when we parked, there was a sign indicating that this ihop offered valet service on weekends (i think). valet. at an ihop. weird.
when we walked in, a kind elderly gentleman greeted us quietly but warmly. mind you, this was about two in the morning. on one window it said that there was free wifi, and another window told the patrons that this ihop was open 24 hours. the place had high ceilings and looked pretty huge, certainly much bigger than your average ihops. diners were scattered around in different tables, many with laptops no doubt enjoying the free internet. anyhoo, the elderly gent led us to our table. i’m not sure if my grandpa would have been nicer.
once we were seated, grandpa server took our drink orders while we looked through the menu. the bus boy came with our drinks, and he was just as nice as our server. the food arrived shortly after our order. there was 80’s music on the radio. as we ate, our server somehow figured out how i liked to take my drink and gave me a refill. he didn’t even know me, and i was not a regular. but he figured it out somehow. that was certainly the best service i’ve ever gotten at any ihop; in fact, the service could give many five-star restaurants a run for their money.
as promised, it was magical. i have to go back.
last, but not least, a screen capture.