500 Words – Noisy Kids Not Allowed

Screaming KidI was at an Olive Garden one night having dinner with my wife. We don’t go to Olive Garden very often because we consider the restaurant to be somewhat of a treat. We only go on special occasions when we feel we deserve the Olive Garden-type food. Imagine our horror as we were seated next to a family with a very angry kid.

It seemed like every minute the kid would scream at the top of his lungs in anger. His scream made my ears pulsate as if they were wanting to implode in order to block off the evil shriek. The pressure inside my head was so great with each scream that I grimaced in the same way I react when someone runs their nails across a chalkboard or plays with a bunch of styrofoam.

The family eventually left, taking the evil heathen with them. I did not say anything to the family to voice my disgust over the kid’s behavior, but I did give the parents and kid a few dirty looks.

Unfortunately, my encounter with the noisy kid is an all-too-common experience for many people. According to an article on MSNBC (No brats allowed!), many establishments are setting firm rules on the behavior of children. I suppose the logical argument would be, “If parents refuse to control their kids, we will.”

One of the statements in the article was that North Carolina started an online petition to establish child-free restaurants. The petition loosely compared noisy kids with unwanted cigarette smoke. I wish to expand on the cigarette smoke analogy and not give it the “loose” treatment.

Cigarettes used to be okay for people to smoke on airplanes, in restaurants, hotels, airports, government buildings, and a variety of other venues without a second thought of violating some kind of law or ordinance. Currently, smoking in many places is either against the law (or banned) due to various health concerns and customer inconvenience. My question is, would smoking be against the law had the smokers respected the rights of the non-smoker? I can only theorize, but I bet if smokers kept their second-hand smoke out of the lungs of the non-smokers to begin with, there would be no need for smoking legislation.

I’m not trying to compare kids to second hand smoke. I’m comparing the behavior of smokers and noisy kids in regards to their environment. There are places where it is generally accepted to smoke, e.g., bars, clubs, and pool halls. Likewise, there are places where kids are expected to be loud and obnoxious such as daycare, playgrounds, and parks. Just as the general public slowly grew intolerant towards cigarette smoke, the public may becoming intolerant towards noisy kids.

Granted, noisy kids are not toxic like cigarette smoke. No noisy kid is ever going to give someone lung cancer. The bigger point here is that when certain groups of people are inconsiderate of their environment, the public fights back (e.g., cell phone users).

Just like smokers, noisy kids belong in certain places. One of those places is not at an Olive Garden during dinnertime (especially my dinnertime).

That’s my 500 Words.

13 Comments

  1. Ronald,
    I couldn't agree more with this. For awhile it seemed screaming children followed me. I had nightmares about them. The idea of child-control in restaurants is a good one. If nothing else, we should have non-children sections (similar to non-smoking sections), or at the very least a special section watched over by an oblivious-parent monkey which comes out and exacts punishment on parents who don't control their children. Take care,

    Nathan

  2. "evil"…"evil heathen"…What exactly lead you to conclude that this child was an evil heathen?

    Merriam-Webster:
    Evil "morally reprehensible; arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct; causing harm; marked by misfortune;"
    Heathen "an unconverted member of a people or nation that does not acknowledge the God of the Bible; an uncivilized or irreligious person;"

    Now, the child may have fit most of the "evil" definition, but his screaming probably doesn't fall under "morally reprehensible" (oo, good word…don't see it too often these days), assuming the child was a toddler (if not, well, let's just leave it at "evil").

    But "heathen"? I think that might be a bit of a stretch there. 🙂

    Otherwise, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I wouldn't mind eating at a restaurant that takes a stand on keeping their establishment a pleasant place to visit.

    cetroyer

  3. I stand by my evil heathen comment. I did look it up in Merriam-Webster before using it, so I knew what I was saying. Thanks for pointing it out though 🙂

  4. A co-worker mentioned to me today that Olive Garden, Macaroni Grill, and several others were considered family restaurants. By family, that means children as well. He told me we should "expect" some noisiness and outbursts since children are so unpredictable.

    If I know in advance that an establishment is going to have noisy children sitting near me, I won't go. If I want to hear noisiness and outbursts, I'll go eat at Chuck E. Cheese's.

    Perhaps I'm ignorant and don't "understand" because I don't have kids. So be it.

  5. hehe… this is going to be a late comment to your post, but back in August I wasn't into blogging yet, hence didn't read your blog.
    While browsing your Sitemap my eyes fell on the words "noisy kids", and I clicked 🙂

    well… since I'm a parent of a toddler, I wouldn't like someone calling my kid "evil", even if she misbehaves. On the other hand, I too don't like noisy spoiled kids not just in restaurants but also in malls, on the street, etc.

    However, I'm more tolerant to them than non-parents. On the other hand I don't go out to a restaurant with my husband for the last two years since my daughter was born, because my husband doesn't want to risk having his kid throwing tantrums or wondering around the restaurant. I personally do want to take my daughter with us and see how she behaves. If she does misbehave and we won't be able to control her, then we'd certainly leave the place.

  6. Westchester Mom

    June 20, 2007 at 8:04 am

    I was horrified with your experience and still can't believe the parents who KNOW that their kids are brats, but insist on taking them out in public to annoy the masses. Note to Parents: If your kids are brats at home, they will be brats in public!

    So sorry that you and your wife couldn't enjoy your meal with all that screaming and lunacy. Hopefully, the parents were embarrassed enough to do something about their kid's behavior. After all, he is a product and reflection on THEM.

  7. I hope the parents were embarrassed, but they sure didn't look like it. I wasn't angry at the kid as much as I was angry as the parents and staff at the restaurant, however.

  8. I am the manager of a restaurant that is considered a “family” restaurant, and I have a five year old child. Recently I asked a mom if I could help her control her screaming 16 month old after my cashier informed me of about 20 complaints, 2 tables that walked out, and angry stares from other diners for about 25 minutes. First the mom acted shocked, then she said the child was screaming at another child nearby (claimed that child was screaming as well). She also blamed slow service for making her child cranky, and pointed out the family restaurant issue. I responded by saying the other diners with children ask them to behave out of consideration to others. The lady then told me I should ask anyone who complains to sit in the private banquet room, and I explained that I couldn’t ask half the restaurant to move. By then the situation was escalting, and the lady and her companions were ready to leave- it would have been unprofessional to argue further. As she left she decided to tell the cashier that I had told her to “shut her kid up”. The cashier knew better, and asked the lady if that was what I said. She said no, not in those words but I had asked her that in a nice way.The cashier explained that she was the one who had informed me of the complaints. Anyway, the mom left angry, asked for and received the owners number and left.
    My point is I have been on both sides of the issue. Being a mom, I realize it’s tough when your little one misbehaves in public. I always tell mine before we go anywhere that she is expected to behave, or the outing is over. I try to overlook the small things, sometimes I distract her, and there are a few times that we must leave out of consideration to others. When she was very small, we had to leave places plenty of times,toddlers get loud! I had never said anything to a parent before this incident, kids will be kids.I know this as well as anyone.I wish that some parents would realize that its a consideration to others issue, not a personal attack.

  9. Excellent article. I would argue that actually the stress caused by screaming children IS dangerous to your health. By taking away the relaxation period most people need, you are causing increased heart rate and the release of stress hormones that can and do damage your health.

    This is not cute, and not innocuous by any measure.

  10. Wallace »

    Kids are dangerous! I just spent an hour or so telling a kid in Spanish, “¡no toque! ¡no toque! ¡no ponga sus manos en la mesa!

    Which basically meant, BEHAVE!

    Thanks for your comment.

  11. You are so right. Children over the age of three should not be allowed
    great public expressions of anger any more than
    adults are.

    I took my children out of places when they acted badly and told them why. I also spanked between the ages of two and four and did not need to spank after five. I felt that as their mother, I would
    rather cause some pain early than have them beaten
    up as adults because they were so horrible.
    You do not ask a young child what he thinks he should do. That is what you are for!

    My sons are not rude hateful adults and they very
    much have minds of their own.

    The parents who have allowed uncontrolled behaviour in the past are the cause for the more rude teenagers and young adults we all have to deal with now.

  12. @Diane,

    What would be your thoughts on somebody else scolding your child? For example, “Don’t scream in public.” Stuff like that.

  13. I/have/three/younger/brothers

    January 1, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I love your story because it’s so real and I agree that children shouldn’t be allowed to scream and
    act like animals. I have a younger brother who, when he was little, did the same thing and I would have hated to leave just because I had a naughty little brother.

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