Caution: Kids Running Loose in Restaurant

My husband and I were out for dinner with friends and their daughter at a popular restaurant. It is peak time and the servers are hopping between the kitchen and the tables. Amongst all of the chaos, there they were. The apple of their Daddy’s eyes, sweet little girls maybe 3 and 5 years old, running and screaming happily…IN A RESTAURANT!!

Having created their own imaginary runway from one end of the restaurant to the entrance, between tables and the kitchen/bar area, these two children ran back and forth. The wee one, barely into the walking stage, equally enjoyed herself as she used her new found freedom on foot to try keep up with her big sister. The eldest was in full throttle running mode and both screamed and squealed with delight. At one point, the older girl ran into the back of the legs of a server carrying a tray, thankfully, nothing was dumped and the child carried on. You may be wondering where the parents were during all of this. Sitting at a table, was a group of parents, one of which was obviously Daddy with a big smile on his face as he watched his cherubs fly across the room.

The rest of us…not so happy. After some time of watching this go on and the usual glares and mild chatter everyone does regarding the matter, I lost it. I shouted “Stop running and Stop screaming!” Neither the children flying by or the parents three tables down noticed. They couldn’t hear over the noise that was emanating not only from other patrons talking, music and kitchen but my shout was drowned out by a loud scream from the toddler. Another person told them to “stop” but nothing changed.

This was not only annoying but dangerous. I can’t for the life of me understand why any parent thinks it is cute or appropriate for a child to play, run or scream in a restaurant. It is plain wrong! I have seen this time and time again whether we are dining at a budget friendly establishment or 5 star hotel; parents watching (or ignoring) their children as they disturb everyone around them. What is that about?

Where is the discipline?

What happened to teaching manners?

Why do they not care about the well being and enjoyment of other patrons?

Are they unconcerned about the safety of their child?

What about the staff that must begrudgingly put up with the little hellions and for whom injury to self or others is a real possibility as they try to manoeuvre around the play?

Over the years, I have seen other people who have reached their threshold of tolerance. They say something to the children, ask the parents to handle the situation (which results in blank stares) or quietly mention to the managers or servers about the problem. Why should we have to go that far? Here is the bottom line:

Restaurants are for dining only! It is not a child’s personal playground and if parents don’t want the rest of us to comment or set some rules then they should take responsibility for their own child’s behaviour. If I was to start running around, shouting, screaming, popping up over the back of a booth or crawling under the table, people would find my behaviour upsetting. WELL???

Children are capable of understanding the concept of dining and it is time that parents everywhere start to recognize that fact and instill some manners. If not, then more restaurants will have to become Adults Only establishments or start erecting signs to warn us all Caution: Kids running loose in restaurant! Least then we can choose to take our hard earned dollars elsewhere and enjoy a meal they way it was intended to be enjoyed.


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