Friday, July 22, 2011

The Little Tikes Battlefield is not for everyone…

Last week I heard on CNN that the owner of McDain’s, a restaurant in Monroeville, PA, has completely banned kids under the age of six from his establishment.  “Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers,” owner Mike Vuick said.

Preschoolers…prohibited?  Finally, someone has the guts to take action for an underserved, downtrodden, and unappreciated population…the parents of young children (PYC).  You see, Vuick has just given PYC an excuse to get a sitter, go out, relax, and ENJOY dinner.  He is your friend and advocate, people!  

I admit that I have never been in the running for Parent of the Year.  That auspicious title always eluded moi.  So my ten-year-old son Wesley has only recently been allowed to grace the doors of a “sit down” restaurant.  As a matter of fact, I avoided taking him out in public, except for limited appearances at family functions, until North Carolina General Statue forced me to register him for Kindergarten.

Infants and toddlers are just not pleasant, nor fun to be around.  They are unpredictable, egocentric, violent, and, well, stinky 90% of the time.  Thank God they are cute, or the lot of us bipeds would go extinct.  

I realize that the first five years is extremely important in brain formation, learning, blah, blah, blah. I also recognized my limitations as a parent in the area of brain formation, and entrusted Wesley to the professionals. Weekends, said professionals were Vincent Van Goat and Bard the dragon, of Baby Einstein’s DVDs--Baby Van Gogh and Baby Shakespeare, respectively.  During the week, I worked while Wesley’s brain formation continued at an endorsed, licensed daycare facility.  I found that learned sages at daycare centers and other child development agencies have extensive training in instructing, guiding and directing tiny tyrants.  These people have CHOSEN to work on the front lines of the Little Tikes Battlefield, so our species will survive.  It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about the unselfish sacrifices.  They are unacknowledged martyrs, our clandestine SEAL Team 6…Ooo-rah, Able Annie’s Daycare and the Rockingham County Partnership for Children!
And just like there are experts in bambino tutelage, there are also communal venues specifically designed for children, and yes, these include eateries.  You know, Chuck E. Cheese, where a kid can be a kid…unpredictable, egocentric, violent AND stinky. (The franchise should consider this more accurate tag line.)  Regrettably, again because of legalities, we can’t just drop off our toddlers at Chuck E. Cheese and go grab a latte at Starbucks.  Yes, we are tagged with matching bracelets upon entrance and forced to endure that gi-normous mechanical rodent that spontaneously breaks out in song, screeching children, the dings of trillions of electronic games, and, of course, the insidious stench of pre-schoolers.  Fortunately, the management understands how adults are debilitated by Suck E. Sleaze and serve beer.

Other restaurants have subtlety made dining with your toddler manageable.  Case in point, Chick-fil-A, whose company owners are surely closet advocates for PYC.  An observation unit with toddler-enticing equipment is located inside the restaurant, where you can peacefully watch your child, with those of his own kind, reeking havoc and general mayhem as you enjoy your meal.  You cannot be any taller than 42” to enter the transparent, sound proof padded exhibit room.  In other words, no parents allowed!

In my opinion, there are too few places that preschoolers aren’t allowed:  Strip clubs, bars, and now McDain’s.  Those little crumb catchers have the run of our world!  And if you are a PYC, you know I speak the truth.  Now we all know those Queens of Denial who may say, “But, I love to spend time with my two-year-old, Ballerina!  I just have to be a stay at home mom, for I can’t imagine being away from Junior one second!”  Stop the lies!  Stop the cover up! Junior knows two words:  “Dad,” whom he never sees during the work week, and “No,” which is his response to everything.  He still poops in his pants, but now has the capability to reach into his Pull-Up, grab a handful, and smear feces on your freshly cleaned walls. Yes, while your exhausted ass is boiling and pureeing fresh zucchini you harvested from the garden planted so he can have nutritious, organic, meals, Junior is spraying Febreze Air Effects into the dog’s eyes.   Let’s face it:  It sucks being home with Junior, that’s reality.  Again, thank God he’s cute or you would eat him.  And taking him out to a restaurant?  A Bengal tiger or Black-backed Jackal would be my pick before a toddler. 

I have now come to the end of my ranting, so I will leave you with this final question:  When is your child fit for public restaurants?  Perhaps when he or she stops finding the box more interesting than the toy in which it came?

A. Ballerina

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