Think of the Children

By Leah Blewett
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 6, 2006

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It's not that I don't like kids.

Sure, I might not necessarily want any of my own--at least not for a good long time--but some kids are cute. Some are well-behaved and charming. Some are sweet-smelling and adorable, with little blond curls and round tummies and oochie-coochie gap-toothed smiles.

But these aren't the kids who are brought out to eat. At least not in my restaurant.

I get the kids who consider eating a competitive contact sport. The ones who'd rather throw their vittles than ingest them. The kids who climb furniture, who screech and howl and cry. I get the kind of kids who make you not want to have any.

Some are more memorable than others. Like the little bastard who sat patiently through my day's specials spiel and then looked up at me with wide, innocent eyes and proclaimed, "You're stupid!" This wouldn't have bothered me so much except for Mummy's peals of derisive laughter, and her half-hearted, "Be nice to the poor waitress lady!" Poor waitress lady, indeed.

For some kids it's less what they say than what they spray--as in, bits of half-chewed food, all over the table, the floor and their neighbors. Back in my pizza-slinging days we catered to a lunch crowd on the weekends which consisted primarily of theatergoers and their pampered brats. One particularly ornery 3-year-old methodically picked the pepperoni off her pizza, arranged it in a pile and then proceeded to lob the slices across the dining room like little red Frisbees. My manager gave out an awful lot of business cards that day, with promises to foot an awful lot of dry cleaning bills.

I'm no Scrooge. I get it. Kids can be tough to control. Fine. Cute, even. But there's a line, people, between the cute kid drooling pasta sauce all over his bib and the fiendish spawn of Beelzebub running from table to table stomping on customers' feet. A line between the adorable little infant nibbling on some Zwieback and the toddler I found in the kitchen pulling pans off the lower shelves.

Restaurants can be dangerous, even for those of us who work there full-time. Ask any line cook about the burn scars on their arms, or any bartender about glass cuts. Letting your child run through a restaurant is like turning them loose on Broad Street on New Year's Day and expecting the Mummers to babysit.

While I'm happy to sweep up the errant Cheerios that often accompany your child, perhaps in exchange you could enforce some behavioral standards. After all, a kid with a burn scar on her forehead isn't nearly so cute.

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