Other People’s Kids: Saturday Poll

By: wheatmeister
May 5, 2012

Is it OK for parents to bring their noisy toddlers into nice restaurants?

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45 Responses to Other People’s Kids: Saturday Poll

  1. Bob on May 5, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    If you take your date to a nice restaurant and pop $60, you don’t want someone’s kids next to you. That’s what IHOP is for.

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  2. Bob on May 5, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    ???? What does your noisy toddlers have to do to NOT be well behaved? What makes a ‘nice restaurant’ is it has no toddlers.

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  3. whizzbang on May 5, 2012 at 5:39 PM

    You can’t control what your kid says in a place, you just have to hope for the best and try to contain them as best as possible. How else are kids going to learn what is socially acceptable if they never go into situations that require some level of appropriatness? always taking them to mcdonalds won’t help them learn what to do in Montana’s or The Keg

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  4. Bob on May 5, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    #3:whizzbang,
    You can control what place they are in. You can give your class on ‘appropriatness” at Denny’s. Or you can wait until they are 12.
    If some guy just ordered a $200 bottle of wine, he does’t need your noisy toddlers next to him.

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  5. Jon on May 5, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    If the restaurant owners don’t want toddlers as part of their atmosphere then they can say, no toddlers allowed, or say, after such a time no children allowed.

    A patron can choose to go to such a restaurant if that concerns them.

    Seriously, who doesn’t like the sweet sound of children?

    I do think that parents should try and teach their children good manners, but you shouldn’t expect too much from toddlers.

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  6. Bonnie on May 5, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    I like barbecues. Kids are welcome.

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  7. Mike S on May 6, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    Allowed to – sure. Should they – absolutely not.

    Our children have grown up going to nice restaurants, and are very well-mannered now. When we were in stages of our life where we had young toddlers, we avoided certain restaurants out of respect for the other patrons. There is plenty of time in other years to teach children proper restaurant etiquette, and certain restaurants more fitted for the task.

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  8. Bro. Jones on May 6, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    Because we’d made the reservation before my kid was born and didn’t want to lose it, we took our three-week-old baby to Volt, the place run by Top Chef runner-up Brian Voltaggio.

    Results:

    1. The kid was quiet. (She didn’t cry much at that age.) We were fully prepared to bail if she got noisy.

    2. Neighboring patrons thought she was adorable.

    3. The staff was incredibly gracious. They brought us hot water to heat a bottle, and let my wife change the baby in a private dining room because the restrooms were cramped.

    4. Bryan Voltaggio looked at us like we were nuts.

    5. The food was fantastic.

    6. We’re never doing this again. :) Not with a baby, at least.

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  9. NewlyHousewife on May 6, 2012 at 7:41 AM

    I love my kid, but I do not love yours.

    Your average adult goes through a great extent to go to these nice restaurants (making reservations ahead of time, saving up for a couple of months, wearing formal/nicer-than-Sunday clothing, finding a babysitter). Bring a child who is still figuring out manners is insulting.

    If you wouldn’t bring your child to a well-packed theater, don’t bring your child to dinners that are $60 a plate.

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  10. NewlyHousewife on May 6, 2012 at 7:43 AM

    *Bringing, I didn’t get any sleep last night.

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  11. Bob on May 6, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    I see this question more about adult manners.
    I have nothing against toddlers. I have spent many a night walking them in parking lots so others could enjoy their meals.
    What usually happens, there is an ‘Occassion dinner’ at a nice restaurant where kids should not be. They start acting up, crying, yelling, banding their plates, and their parents start yelling or handing them toys.

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  12. Jon on May 6, 2012 at 12:08 PM

    I guess I have a hard time relating to you guys because, the last time I went to an expensive restaurant (I think it was ~$50 a plate – I know that really isn’t that expensive, but it is about 4 times more than we normally spend at a restaurant) we were in a town where we didn’t know how much it would cost, it looked like it would be good ethnic food. So we tried it out with our two year old. She didn’t misbehave, in fact, for the most part, she is a well behaved and mild child. She loved eating there, it was a great experience for her and us.

    No patrons got mad at us.

    If a restaurant doesn’t want kids there then they can ban them. I don’t see why this is a big deal, obviously society has deemed it OK for restaurants to have toddlers at fancy restaurants because the restaurants haven’t banned toddlers from their establishments.

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  13. AndrewJDavis on May 6, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    I’m rather shocked at how many people here don’t think kids should be allowed. If I’m willing to pay the price, it’s none of your business. If you prefer to patronize a place where kids are banned, that’s your choice. Until then, I’ll bring mine where I want. Not that I can afford $50/plate, so for me it’s mostly a moot point. But if I could, I’d ignore anyone regarding where and when I should bring my children.

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  14. Bob on May 6, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    #12 &13,
    Where do you get the Idea it’s lawful to ban people from restaurants due to their age,(unless you are bar)?

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  15. LovelyLauren on May 6, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    I have mixed feelings on this. Personally, I question why anyone would go somewhere $60 a plate and take a toddler with them. At that point, my hypothetical kid’s palate isn’t refined enough to appreciate any of that. I also recognize that when you eat somewhere like that you pay for not just your food, but also for a certain kind of dining experience that, typically, does not include small children.

    The flip side though is my aunt’s kids. They hardly ever went out to eat and couldn’t order for themselves/read a menu well when they were 7 and 9, which seemed a little ridiculous to me. Especially since we were at Red Robin. It is definitely important to make sure your kids can behave well in public places, but I think Applebees or somewhere casual and kid-friendly is a good bet until you’re sure your kid can make it through a meal quietly.

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  16. Michael on May 6, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    The comments so far are merely a confirmation of the incredibly large disconnect between Mormon culture (especially the inter-mountain west) and normal US culture. The same mindset which tries to justify destroying the dining experience of adults in nice restaurants finds nothing wrong with destroying the Sabbath day worship experience of many single LDS adults by massive irreverence and disrespect by offspring which are neither cute nor disciplined. There is a reason why investigators find our services so abhorrent and non-worshipful.

    Kids do not belong in adult dining or entertainment situations. Hire a sitter or stay at home. And here in Orlando $50 a person is the norm..

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  17. Jon on May 6, 2012 at 9:34 PM

    Well Bob, where do you get the idea that it isn’t lawful? Here in Arizona they have built communities where kids are not even allowed to live. In North Ogden in Utah there was such a community also. If you can build communities that ban children, I would think it ridiculous that you couldn’t have a restaurant that banned children.

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  18. Jon on May 6, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    LovelyLauren,

    My kids have more refined pallets than most, although, as she gets older it isn’t as good as when she was younger. At one point she refused to eat hot dogs because they didn’t taste good to her, she only started eating them because all the other kids would eat them. She still won’t eat mac and cheese. She’s 4 yrs old btw. If you feed your kid junk food, their pallets won’t be very good, if you feed them healthy soups and greens and avoid wheat, sugar (or any sweeteners for that matter), and milk (this list is all addictive foods), then your kids will have more refined pallets. Maybe not all kids, but in my short parenting experience that is what I’ve noticed. It would be interesting to see a study on the subject.

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  19. Bob on May 6, 2012 at 10:10 PM

    #17: Jon,
    Showing me 5 black ducks does not prove there are no white ones.
    Can you show me a restaurant that bans by age? I see some that ban for no shoes (health resaons), smoking (health reasons). But not because someone is Black.

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  20. Mike S on May 6, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    #13 Andrew: If I’m willing to pay the price, it’s none of your business. If you prefer to patronize a place where kids are banned, that’s your choice. Until then, I’ll bring mine where I want.

    This is potentially a very egocentric point-of-view. It obviously depends on the kids, but I think ruining an experience for dozens of other people just because you want to bring your kids where you want is self-centered.

    Again, I say potentially because I don’t know your kids and don’t think a restaurant “ban” is the answer. Children are all different. We have been lucky to have kids who travel well and are mannered in public. I have brought kids as young as 6 to nice restaurants in Paris and to Les Mis in the West End of London, and they did perfectly fine. I’m glad there were no age limits, but if they were acting up, I would take them out immediately.

    So, my issue is not the children, per se, but with the adults who let their children act like idiots in a nice place and ruin the experience for everyone else.

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  21. LovelyLauren on May 6, 2012 at 10:33 PM

    Jon, perhaps “refined palate” was the wrong phrase. I’m skeptical of what the “refined palate” means since I enjoy a variety of foods, some of which are very “unrefined.” I guess I consider it more the ability to enjoy food. I’m a very picky eater, even as an adult, but I love and appreciate food a lot more than my husband does.

    My brothers have been eating and enjoying sushi since they were toddlers and I refused to eat a lot of typical “children’t food” growing up as well. I think part of this is because our parents were willing to expose us to a variety of cuisines and flavors. Regardless, I still probably wouldn’t pay $50 a plate for a meal for a toddler when I could take them somewhere far less expensive where I could get a decent meal and wouldn’t be worried about disrupting someone else as much.

    And Michael, $50 a plate is the norm? What planet are you living on? Maybe for a very small subset of people, but I know very, very few people who regularly enjoy nights out at that cost level.

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  22. FireTag on May 6, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    I don’t recall having enough money as a young parent to go out to fifty dollar a plate restaurants and I’d rather not compute the relevant inflation index. When we went somewhere “expensive” we did get a sitter, but we preferred dinner theatre where there’d be a complete musical after the buffet.

    For me, the more relevant question has become whether my wife can dare trust my manners enough to take ME somewhere expensive.

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  23. Douglas on May 6, 2012 at 11:57 PM

    Most couples with small children lack the funds to eat at so-called “fine” establishments (snobs and snots!), and, when they do, they’d usually rather leave the children with a sitter. Problem typically solves itself.
    It seems that this is an issue for the restaurant to solve.
    I’m sad that people who esteems themselves as “successful” or “rich” think they have some “right” to not to have to endure the nomral vagaries of human society, including crying children. I’d rather “endure” the screaming brats than deal with such uptight twits.

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  24. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 7:47 AM

    bob,

    Equating age and race are two different things. I have shown that the state allows “discrimination” based on age. It is obvious that discrimination based on race is not allowed by the state. It appears that you are just being difficult. If you would like you can find the law that says restaurants are allowed to discriminate based on age.

    I think most of us are arguing past each other. When I say that it is OK to bring kids to a fancy restaurant I don’t mean kids that throw tantrums or are overly rambunctious. I’m referring to kids that are relatively well behaved, not perfect, but good. This is my experience with my kids who are relatively well behaved. And, no, most people won’t need to worry that I’ll bring my kids to a fancy restaurant since it is more by accident that we go to one like that rather than the rule.

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  25. Bob on May 7, 2012 at 8:18 AM

    #24: Jon,
    “If you would like you can find the law that says restaurants are allowed to discriminate based on age”. Sorry, I can’t.
    You miss the question of the Post: “Is it OK for parents to bring their noisy toddlers into nice restaurants”? My answer is no. Your answer seems to be yes(?)
    If you say “If they are not noisy”, you have then rewritten the question.

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  26. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 8:26 AM

    Bob,

    You are right. I guess I missed that since the highest response is:

    “Only if their toddlers behave well.”

    I guess one would have to define “noisy.” I guess for my children being “noisy” isn’t that loud, so yes, I would say, if noisy isn’t loud, then I would still bring my kids.

    Of course, I went to a restaurant with coworkers that ended up being $100 a plate (taking out some customers/clients). Man, there were no kids there but it was noisy. You had to yell across the table for the other people to hear you. Some coworkers considered that I nice restaurant, not me. Too much loud noise! There’s other, less expensive restaurants that are like that too, I tend to avoid restaurants like that, part of going out involves conversing with the people you are dining with, if I have to yell for them to hear me than it isn’t worth it. My goodness, McDonald’s is less (loud) noisy than a lot of restaurants out there and they have tons of kids there.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on May 7, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    I think Michael raises a somewhat valid point about the behaviour of kids in our church services. Mostly they are OK, but there are some parents who think their own offspring are so damn cute that everyone else will be equally enchanted with them. I remember attending in one ward where a toddler who was eating caramels (those are 2 things that should not go together) and taking the drooly caramel out of her mouth, looking at it, then shoving it back in, put her caramel coated hand right on the back of my dress while the sacrament was being passed, leaving a gooey mess. There was no offer to cover my dry cleaning bill because the parents weren’t paying any attention to what their little angel was doing. I definitely did not feel uplifted that day. Toddlers will always behave without regard to the feelings of others. It’s the parents’ responsibility to watch them and give guidance.

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  28. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    @hawkgrrrl,

    The question is, why do we expect such young children to be able to sit through over an hour of sacrament, especially since they really don’t have much reason to partake of sacrament? Is the sacrament meeting model even good for them?

    I disagree, also, with the sentiment that kids that age don’t care about the feelings of others, I think they do, they just don’t know all the social norms of society yet. If they knew that it hurt your feelings to have your dress become messy I would hope most of them would feel sorry for it.

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  29. Michael on May 7, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Jon,

    I was raised Catholic before joining the church at age 19. It is fully possible to expect children to sit through an hour with a basic level of acceptable behaviour. Every child in my family was raised with the expectation of perfect behaviour at mass which is just as long as sacrament meeting. It may initially be challenging if children have not been disciplined to do so but it is very realistic and has long-lasting favorable results for their self-discipline. I’m not saying there are not exceptions or missteps but the general rule of reverence is a major LDS issue.

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  30. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Michael,

    I question if our goal should be that a 18 month old sit still for an hour and fifteen minutes. Sure, not scream or anything, I guess it is how you define “acceptable behavior.” We let our kids move around quite a bit but we do expect that they not yell or scream. Is that acceptable behavior? As they get older we expect them to not move around quite as much (my 4 1/2 year old).

    I know yoga has gotten kids to have quite a bit of self control at young ages, but at 18 months? I would have to see it to believe it. Granted, it all depends on what you are defining as “good behavior.”

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  31. Michael on May 7, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Jon,

    I am not referring to children as young as 18 months. The expectations for them would be different. I am referring to children over three years old. The irreverence problem is with children from ages three through ten or eleven years old.

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  32. Michael on May 7, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Jon,

    I am also confused about the reference to yoga. What is wrong with plan old parental discipline and a firm look from the father during the misbehaving? Good behaviour means they sit and pay attention to what is said without having to be entertained separately.

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  33. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    Michael,

    Yeah, by the time they hit 3 they are definitely more capable. They still like to move around a bit, but there’s no reason for them to be loud.

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  34. MD on May 7, 2012 at 10:59 AM

    #29

    I think it is absolutely ridiculous to expect children to be still when the adult behavior during sacrament meeting is absolutely disgusting. Yesterday, a woman who has experienced a great deal of trials recently was bearing her testimony, sobbing. This woman had not been to church for a long time and most people don’t know her so it is not as if she did this every month. I looked around the room and the behavior of the adults made me want to punch someone: many were sleeping, several were messing with phones and ipads, others were chatting with other adults, and some big turd yawned loudly/obnoxiously. The children actually paid more attention to this woman. If you want small children to sit still during sacrament meeting than the adults need to lead by example. And don’t get me started on the adults hanging out in the hallway during all three meetings of church.

    Additionally, I will bring my five children (8 years and younger) any place I want to go and they are legally allowed to be. My children are well behaved because I don’t tolerate nonsense even if we are just eating at McDonalds. I also take my children out to eat on my own when my spouse is otherwise engaged and I’ve had many, many people tell me my children are well behaved, adorable etc. I make them pick up their own mess and we leave a generous tip. There are a few restaurants we frequent and we see the same waitstaff who genuinely like us. I have been to nice restaurants where grown-a$$ adults behave in such disgusting manners (belching loudly, screaming on cellphone, chewing with mouth open, speaking in a degrading manner to the waitstaff) so I find it incredibly unfair to imply that only noisy toddlers are a problem.

    Everyone should have their best manners on in public, regardless of age or price range of restaurant.

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  35. Jon on May 7, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    The yoga reference is to what I read someone saying how their child could sit and meditate for quite some time without getting the urge to move around. I guess it is just more a gentle/kinder approach to teaching a child to be able to concentrate for long periods. I would prefer to use more loving methods to get children to behave well (not that I’m perfect at that). I guess it is the spanking vs verbal discipline vs persuasion. The ideal is using persuasion. So I see yoga as a way to get to the child to behave in a persuasive manner instead of verbal (or visual) discipline. I guess, I meant too that if a child can voluntarily do it then there is no reason a child could do it in church. I wish I could remember how old that child was.

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  36. Nick Literski on May 7, 2012 at 11:12 AM

    We need to be clear that misbehaving toddlers are not the problem. Rather, inconsiderate parents who refuse to monitor/restrain/correct their toddlers are the problem.

    I can’t begin to count the times I’ve been in a moderate-level restaurant and observed parents who were either (a) entirely oblivious to their children’s misbehavior, or (b) somehow thought their little darlings were entitled to scream at the top of their lungs or engage in other behavior to disturb other restaurant patrons.

    At times, I’ve observed as these outrageously inept parents let their children wander the restaurant at will, while they obvliviously chatted and enjoyed their own meals. Too often, I’ve seen these untended children approach and bother other restaurant patrons, only to have their alleged “parents” become angry and indignant when anyone dared complain. More than once, I’ve seen toddlers open the front door of small restaurants, and actually attempt to leave, while their “parents” weren’t paying any attention. I’ve gotten up from my own table and rescued these kids from stepping out into traffic, only to have the “parents” become angry with me when I brought the situation to their attention.

    There’s simply no excuse for this sort of behavior on the part of parents. I raised five daughters, and I would never have imagined allowing one of them to scream, disturb other restaurant patrons, or wander around in a restaurant. Instead, when I took my children out to dinner, other patrons tended to approach my table to comment on how well-behaved my children were. All that took was a bit of actual parenting, rather than a refusal to place limits and boundaries on one’s children.

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  37. Toni on May 7, 2012 at 11:54 PM

    For those who were discussing whether child-free restaurants exist/are legal, here is an article that mentions a few child-free restaurants.

    http://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-blog/carry-on/2010/3/4/child-free-dining-the-blissfully-silent-trend

    Bratty kids are obnoxious in any place, but in my experience, most kids seem to be just fine in restaurants.

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  38. Bob on May 8, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    #37: Toni,
    It sounds the article is talking about restaurants outside the US(?), or, ones who only ‘recommend’ no kids, or who have ‘areas’ within the restaurants that are child free.

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  39. AndrewJDavis on May 8, 2012 at 4:21 AM

    Re Mike S. #20 — I don’t really think it’s any more egocentric of a view than the idea that someone deserves the right to total silence in a public space. Either viewpoint is making the same argument: my wants > your wants.

    With that being said, however, I agree totally with you and Nick (#36) that the parents should be disciplining their children, even and especially in public. When my 3 year old threw a tantrum in a cafe last December, we walked out, and she didn’t get her chocolate she wanted. (I did stay behind to pay and leave a large tip). We didn’t let her stay and throw her fit. But we have the right to be there with her. And now she knows (but no guarantees about remembering alas) that her behavior that day is not acceptable.

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  40. Nick Literski on May 8, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    As Brigham Young is alleged to have said, “Noisy children are like good intentions. They should always be carried out.” ;-)

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  41. DB on May 10, 2012 at 6:58 AM

    I have four young children who are generally noisy in restaurants. I would never take them to a nice restaurant because it would ruin the whole experience not just for everyone else but for me and my wife. People go to nice restaurants for the experience of great food and enjoyable atmosphere either with a significant other or a group of friends. People go to family resaturants for the experience of enjoying an evening out with their family. When someone tries to mix those two up, they ruin the experience for themselves and everyone else at the restaurant. It is socially unacceptable to bring children to a nice restaurant so please don’t do it. Likewise, don’t give me dirty looks when I’m at Chili’s with my entire noisy family and you were expecting a quiet evening out.

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  42. Zara on May 10, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    I don’t mind well-behaved kids in a nice restaurant, but they should never be ignored or unattended. If a child has left the table, the parent is in the wrong. If a child is screaming, the parent should take them outside until they’re able to behave again.

    I do like the idea of exposing them to situations in which they can learn manners and expand their palates, but they should be closely monitored by the parent.

    I don’t have a problem with kids being a little more noisy at family restaurants like Chili’s, but unless it’s a restaurant specifically meant for kids to run around willy-nilly, like Chuck E Cheese, your kid should not leave the table unattended and chase another kid or play hide-and-seek amongst the tables. And no kid be allowed should scream indoors while a parent ignores them, ever.

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  43. Douglas on May 13, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    #27 (HawkChick) – were the parents of the little ‘darling’ that just HAD to share her caramel with you even aware that she’d soiled your dress? Assuming so, I’d say…just get over it, and avoid sitting next to that family in the future in Sacrament. But at least keep going. Life is about enduring these minor inconveniences and insults. What would the Savior’s WIFE do? (I just love stirring it up at times…)..hey, right now I’m watching this documentary on the “H2″ channel about “Sex in Space”…I can’t make this up!!!!

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  44. hawkgrrrl on May 14, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    Douglas – no, they definitely didn’t know what the girl did, and I left right after the sacrament and we didn’t go back. I was livid and horrified at the behavior of this family. To be honest, I was much more tightly wound back then before I had any of my own kids. Now I wear clothes that are mostly wash & wear!

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  45. Toni on January 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

    #38, Bob, I didn’t notice that. Thanks for pointing it out.

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