I'll Take a Grande, Decaf, No Whip, No Kid Frappuchino, Please

A little over a year ago, I read this article. Essentially, the owner of a coffee shop in Chicago put up a sign that reads, "Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven." Parents in the neighborhood, offended by what they saw as someone attempting to tell them how to parent their kids, were outraged and organized a boycott. The article then goes on to outline the battle between the "child-free" and the "child-centered," and how this issue is being addressed in restaurants, bakeries, and other establishments that aren't generally seen as "child-friendly."

At the time, I discussed this issue with my sister, and we both agreed that so many parents nowadays seem to have this sense of entitlement, this belief that they can go anyplace with their children that they did as a childless person and that the proprietors and customers just need to "deal with it." Of course, at the time, I wasn't a parent. I was just a child-free gal who would get supremely annoyed by parents ignorning their misbehaving kids whom they decided to take to a nice restaurant on a Friday night.

Now that I'm a mother, though, my opinion on this hasn't changed. Children are not accessories. He or she is not a handbag, or a cell phone, or a Crackberry that you can just tuck into your person and take anywhere with you. They are living, breathing, and often crying, whining, screaming, and fussy beings. Their presence and behavior impacts others, especially in a small and quiet environment. For me, it's this simple: there are just certain places that are not "child-friendly." They are meant to be enjoyed by adults, and adults only, and if you do plan on taking your children there, you best watch them and monitor their behavior like a hawk. And at least for me, my beloved coffee shops fall into this category.

Now, that said, I must confess that I want to go back to hanging out and meeting friends for coffee like nobody's business. This was a huge part of my pre-baby life, and I miss it desperately. Coffee is my preferred drink of choice (I chug down about 10 cups a day of vile decaf at home), and I've always enjoyed visiting Starbucks and my other coffee shop hangouts. But now I have Isabella. And given the hubs' work schedule, she's as much a part of my anatomy now as my arms are. If I want to go somewhere, well, chances are she's coming with me.

There's nothing I want more somedays than to hit my local coffee shop, plunk myself and my kid down, and dig into a book and a scone and an overpriced coffee for an hour or two. But Isabella is five months old now. She's very active. And very vocal. And frankly, I think I would get very depressed at the prospect of getting all settled in with my coffee only to have to pack up and leave because she's tweaking out. That's not to say I don't plan on trying it, because someday I am going to do exactly that. But one peep from her, and we're out. People visit coffee shops for peace and relaxation, often to work or to study, and to engage in quiet conversation. They don't want to hear my kid screech at a decibel level normally heard only by dogs, no matter how endearing I might think it is (which, for the record, I don't).

I miss my favorite restaurants. I miss going to the movies. And I miss my Starbucks. I'm a parent now, but I also remember what it was like to frequent these places as someone without kids, and how annoying it was to watch completely unsupervised kids wreck havoc on their surroundings. Now, granted, they're just being kids. Their parents, however, should be strung up by their fingernails.

I guess my main point is this: If you're going to take your kids to a place that's meant for adults (and I believe coffee shops are exactly this, because as far as I know, kids don't drink coffee and 95% of the drinkable menu items at coffee shops are coffee-based), you need to ensure they behave appropriately. And if they don't, no matter how much you want to stay and read your newspaper or chat with your friend, you need to get up and leave. For me, it's as simple as that.

22 Responses to “I'll Take a Grande, Decaf, No Whip, No Kid Frappuchino, Please”

  1. # Blogger Christine

    I have no problem with someone bringing their child to a coffee shop or a restaurant so long as they are well behaved. And of course they're welcome at children's movies. (Although there was that time we went to go see Texas Chainsaw Massacre with an approximate three month old in attendance. Oh the things I wanted to tell his or her mother cannot be said here.)

    But the real issue is that the children need to be well behaved or quiet, if they are? The more the merrier. And if not? Well, there are a few other places for rambunctious kids available. I say you try the 'Bucks, Bella in tow and if/when she starts being a kid, it's time to leave. And then you try again when she's a bit older and can understand that you need her to be quiet or play quietly. I don't think it really needs to be a war of the "child-free" vs. "child bearing." But what do I know? Blissfully child-free at the moment.  

  2. # Anonymous Schnozz

    Yeah, my husband and I went to a nice dinner, which we NEVER do, to celebrate the end of a monthslong period of hard training. Who slides into the table right next to us? Two little kids who were just being little kids.

    And I would be fine with that. If I weren't paying twenty dollars for my plate of food and seven dollars for my dessert. It made me seriously ill to pay seventy bucks for a dinner that had been accompanied by screeching two feet from my ear.

    I could not be more sympathetic to parents and their need to get out of the house, etc etc ... but ... yeah. We deliberately go to places that aren't really appropriate for small, rowdy children, and I do get pretty bitter when I can't carry on a conversation over the siren wail of a three year old. It's tough, because I want a win-win situation for everyone, and I love kids, and I don't want to be a bitch ... but I had been really excited about dinner! And I don't think I'm being overdramatic when I say it was ruined, because it pretty much was.

    Life can't always be neat and tidy, but the sense of entitlement is ridiculous. Other people do have to hear your child, and they shouldn't always be expected to just put up with it because you want a fancy dinner.  

  3. # Blogger My Wombinations

    In many cities, there are "mommy times" for movies during the day when parents can bring their babies. I plan to attend once Samara is old enough.  

  4. # Blogger Michelle

    I couldn't agree with you more. There are definite kid friendly restaraunts-- like Red Robin, for instance, where I would expect shrieking kids who cry when their balloons float up to the ceiling. And if I choose to eat there, I know what I am in for. However, if I want a nice meal at say, The Melting Pot, where we are spending $100 on our dinner, I would expect a quiet, serene dinner, sans kids.
    And now, as a parent, I am very aware of how Madelyn's behavior might impact others.
    Lucky for me, she is a fabulous baby who hardly ever makes a peep (aside from her 3 a.m. story telling sessions where she babbles nonstop for about 15 minutes). However, if she weren't this little angel, I would think twice about where I took her. It's common courtesy. Something I think a lot of people are lacking today.  

  5. # Anonymous Chantel

    I agree with all of the above...there are adult places and there are kid places...but what about those places that you cannot avoid. LIke planes. Did anyone read this http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/AmericanFamily/story?id=2815486&page=1.  

  6. # Blogger Beagle

    Seriously though, we live in a society that has restaurants like Hooters that call themselves family oriented! (Not that I care who actually goes there because I wouldn't be caught dead in a Hooters, but kid friendly hot wings, beer, and D boobs and short-shorts?? Am I missing something?)

    I think this is an interesting debate. I don't know what the solution is since we do live in a very entitlement minded era.  

  7. # Anonymous controlyourkids

    I have a blog I created that deals with this exact topic.

    http://www.controlyourkids.blogspot.com  

  8. # Blogger Marie

    Agreed that it's up to parents to supervise and monitor their kids in public places, and to be sensitive to others around them.

    I think that man's sign is pretty condescending and passive-aggressive -- he clearly wants cooperation from the parents, but he's aiming it at the kids. Why not be direct? Maybe something like this... We ask that parents supervise their children, so that all patrons may enjoy their visit here. Thanks for your help... or something like that. You can be friendly and welcoming but still get your point across.

    I think pretty much any chain restaurant or diner type place is fair game for families. Upscale restaurants aren't appropriate for young children. Coffee shops? I sure understand your desire to get away from kids, but I don't think it's fair to expect them to be child-free zones. I know my sis does errands on Saturdays and brings one of her kids along. They often stop at Starbucks while they're out, so my sis can have her frappamochathing and her son or daughter has a hot chocolate. It's a treat for them. I'm quite sure they're well-behaved though!

    I'm always amazed by how inconsiderate some people can be in public -- talking loudly (with or without a cell phone), wearing half a bottle of cologne, hacking up a lung, etc. Leaving kids unsupervised is another one of those things to me.

    Incidentally, the part of that article that made my jaw drop was the part about the bookstore for "women and children." No standing, talking or drinking during story time??!! LOL!! Now THERE'S a place I'd avoid like the plague -- Gestapo Storytime! Basically, they're welcoming sleeping children as far as I can tell. Or maybe they hand out duct tape when you walk in! Nice.  

  9. # Blogger Damselfly

    Anytime I'm out in public with my baby, I'm conscious of his volume level. If he gets really fussy or vocal or can't be consoled to stop crying, I leave. Unless it's the doctor's office! ;)  

  10. # Blogger sunShine

    I agree with you. I don't take the babe anywhere that isn't child friendly.  

  11. # Blogger kenju

    AMEN! I wish all parents felt that way!  

  12. # Blogger Binulatti

    I could not agree with you more, Shish. Parents who don't consider the impact that their wailing/screaming children have on the environment they're in, (especially in adult-oriented public spaces, and yes, coffeeshops are one of these) are the same graceless kind of people who treat service workers like crap, litter with abandon, and in general are bulls in the china shop of society.
    Bella won't always be a baby, and until then - vive the babysitter and your adult escapes!  

  13. # Blogger sher

    My favorite coffee shop sometimes has small children there. There seems to be an even split between the parents who attend to their kids and those that don't. Little kids often sit at their table and are very well behaved. But, the parents who drive me crazy are the ones who simply ignore it while their child runs all over the place, screaming and bumping into tables. I don't blame the kids at all--it's the parents who need to scolded in a case like that. While I think there are places where it's clearly inappropriate to bring a small child who will be bored out of their mind (expensive restaurant, movies), if a parent is responsive to their child and supervises them, I don't mind if they come to my coffee shop.  

  14. # Blogger Dee Dee

    Wow - this posting has REALLY struck a nerve with me. First things first - there is NO place that parents should take their kids where they let them misbehave, yell, and scream. I don't care if it's a kid's birthday party - parents should learn how to control their children or leave. Unfortunately, that's not how the world works though.

    That said, I am confused as to why you say that coffee shops are "child-free" zones, but yet you do plan on taking Isabella there. If you consider it a kid-free zone, why would you want to chance "ruining" the experience for other people?

    And, just because I take my children places with me (like said coffe shop on a Saturday afternoon), doesn't mean that I consider them accessories or that I am not considerate of other people or that I feel some sort of entitlement that I can just breeze in with my kids and everyone else must deal. I don't feel entitlement because I have kids - I feel that if I am a paying customer, I have the right to go as long as I am following the rules of that establishment.

    I mean, I could crawl into a hole and stay there with my kids so that I don't run the risk of someone being annoyed with me because I have my children with me at a place said person has deemed "child-free."  

  15. # Anonymous kross-eyed kitty

    I have absolutely no problem with parents bringing their kids to places. But for god's sake, if they starting screaming/crying parents should be wise enough to do a time-out, outside the store or wherever they may be. It really grates on my nerves when parents manage to turn-off their hearing, or decide to ignore their children's bad behaviour at the expense of everyone else's peace and quiet.
    Thanks for writing about this, I'm sure that Isabella will be a perfectly well behaved young lady, and you'll never have to deal with this!  

  16. # Blogger Kristi

    Christine-Yup, my point exactly. If you're going to bring your kids/babies to an adult place, you have to make sure they behave appropriately. And if they don't, it's time to go. And someone brought a three-month old to that movie? OMG. That's insane.

    Schnozz-Wow. That's terrible. There are some places that just aren't kid-friendly. And it's not the kids' fault when they yell and want to run around. Parents need to use good judgment in determining where to take their kids, and ensure they behave appropriately no matter where they are.

    My Wombinations-That's cool! I wish my town had something similar. Maybe they do, and I don't know about it. I'll have to look into it.

    Michelle-Exactly. Friday's, Red Robin, Applebee's, etc. are all restaurants that I would consider kid-friendly. They're noisy, fun places where kids can be kids. But places that my their very nature are quiet (many expensive restaurants, coffee places, etc.) aren't kid-friendly, and if people bring their wee ones there, I think they need to be super cognizant of how their kids' behavior affects others, and then act appropriately.

    Chantel-I did hear about that story, and I think the airlines acted appropriately. What were they going to go, keep the plane grounded until the little girl quieted down and got in her seat? True, she was just being a normal little girl, but what about the other passengers? Were they just supposed to miss their connections?

    Beagle-Hooters disgusts me, and so does their campaign to appeal to "families" (read: fathers). Entitlement spreads well beyond the child issue too, you're right. It's awful.

    Control Your kids-A whole blog about this? I'll have to check it out.

    Marie-I agree. Your sign is worded much better. And yes, chain restaurants are all what I consider kid-friendly. And I think it's fine that your sis takes her kids to Starbucks, because if she's as good a mom as you are, she definitely making sure they behave appropriately.

    Damselfly-Yup, me too!

    Sunshine-Yeah, it's sometimes so hard because I really miss my favorite restaurants. But I know that they're not kid-friendly, so I don't take Isabella there.

    Kenju-Many do. It's the unfortunate minority who let their kids run wild in adult establishments that make it a hard rap to overcome when parents bring in well-behaved kids.

    Karrie-Yup. If they're good kiddos, bring 'em on in. But if they start to act inappropriately for the setting, it's time to leave.

    Sher-Exactly. It's totally not the kids' fault at all. Kids by their nature want to move around and make noise, and some places are just not suited to that kind of behavior.

    Dianne-I totally agree. Regardless of where you are with your kids, it's essential that they behave appropriately for the setting. This is why I think it's a difficult thing to take kids to coffee places, because they generally aren't noisy places where a child talking loudly or crying, etc., wouldn't be noticed as much.

    I still consider Starbucks to be a place for adults, but because my love for the place knows no bounds, I do plan on taking her there eventually. But as I wrote, the second she acts up, we're out, because it isn't a place for babes with big mouths, like my little girl has.

    And you are not one of those I would ever in a million years consider "entitled" or thinking of your kids as accessories. Those type of parents are like the ones in the article, who let their daughter lay in the middle of the aisle in a coffee shop, blocking traffic, or those who ignore their kids when they're running around a restaurant. That's entitled (and downright loathsome) behavior, not taking two VERY well-behaved kids (and of course, I know this because I know your kids) to Starbucks.

    Ramona-Totally. Bring them to coffee places or nice restaurants if you wish, but since these places generally cater to an adult crowd, parents need to make sure their kids behavior fits that appropriate to the setting.  

  17. # Blogger The Princess

    Camille goes everywhere with me and I still go EVERYWHERE!! I don't allow having a child stop me from living. I still go to Starbucks with my girlfriend for a cup of coffee and some well needed girl talk. I still got to Border's and look throug books. I still go out to dinner with my husband.

    But, I've been doing this since she was born and she's just used to going out. She's been trained I guess you can say. Obviously I don't go out during nap time or bedtime. I choose times of the day where she is her happiest. And? She's VERY well behaved and for the times she isn't, I can now whisper "Time out" and she knows what I'm talking about.  

  18. # Blogger Dee Dee

    Sorry - my posting before sounded really jaded and angry - just wasn't good at articulating what I was thinking - should think a bit more before I go and write away!  

  19. # Blogger Shannon

    amen... When Lorelei starts getting to vocal anywhere I take her to the bathroom and let her get it out of her system... the only place I can't do that is at the grocery store... but there I don't care... but today just at Wendy's there were 4 kids ages 5 to 10 being so loud that it was bugging Lore... she wouldn't eat because it was too noisy... I had to tell the mom to shut her kids up and I said it that way too lol... they were tossing food around and other stuff... and she was upset... whatever.. you are in public... make them behave lol... I know in the local coffee places they would of been kicked out hehehe...  

  20. # Blogger Editorgirl

    I just have to tell you. I've been linked to your blog by S at My Wombinations (we used to work together) and although I don't have children but do have the best nephew who is about to turn a year old I wanted you to know I really enjoy reading your posts! You're right on the money with so much!
    Also, I had to block my account (which I'll explain later) but if you want access, just let me know what e-mail address to send it to.
    Liz  

  21. # Blogger Kristi

    Princess-Wow. That's one well-behaved little girl you have. I can only hope Isabella responds that well to me when she's a little older!

    Dianne-No probs, my friend. :)

    Shannon-Good for you for speaking up. That's just terrible behavior. Ugh!

    Editorgirl-Thank you! And yes, please add me. You can send it to shish76 at aol dot com.  

  22. # Blogger l

    Amen, sista! Just because you can doesn't mean you should. I was at the Olympic Sculpture Park shortly after it opened, and while I understand that these are outdoor sculptures, that doesn't make it acceptable for people to allow their children to clmb all over them and kick them without any kind of reprimand and discipline from the parents.  

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