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Why a "5% Good Child Discount" At Restaurants Is Inherently Terrible
What to do with small children at restaurants has been a sticky situation — literally and figuratively — as long as there have been small children and restaurants. But one creative Italian restaurant owner has come up with an interesting solution: Give families who behave themselves and keep their kids in check a 5 percent discount on their final bill.
Antonio Ferrari, the owner of the Padua wine bar, explained toThe Guardianthat while he doesn't have kids himself, he does appreciate what a difficult job parenting must be. Still, he added, a significant number of his young guests were running between tables, splashing water in the bathrooms, and otherwise causing a ruckus, so he felt like he needed to do something. Hence, his idea of rewarding good behavior with a monetary savings for the parents. Pretty great, right?
As a mom of 4 kids, I can say that while I appreciate the thought behind the idea, this makes me never, ever want to eat in that restaurant. (Not that we have the money to travel to Italy with 4 kids and all, but a girl can dream!) Mostly it's because of Murphy's Law of Children: The more you need them to behave, the more likely they are to catch a fit of inappropriate giggles or surprise-puke in someone's lap.
"The 5% good child discount" also seems inherently unfair to me. "Good" is such a subjective term, especially when applied to kids. I think most of us can think of some general "bad" behaviors we all agree on — throwing food, sass-talking the waiter, and cartwheeling between tables all come to mind. But beyond extremes, who's to say what separates a discount-worthy child from one you'd like to up-charge? Is there a criteria somewhere? A list of rules? Just the opinion of one manager,who doesn't even have kids? Who might not ever even plan onhavingkids?
Good"is such a subjective term, especially when applied to kids.
My other issue is that kids are not miniature adults, yet so many people expect them to act like they are.The Guardianpoints out that Italian family lunches often stretch into hours-long affairs during which children are expected to remain in their seats just as the grown-ups do. It's not impossible for kids sit still for hours while grown-ups talk over their heads, but kids aren't meant to take hour-long, luxurious lunches! And if they can't sit still that long? They're notbad,they're just normal kids.
I've seen too many instances where people have expected my children to live up to adult expectations and then were upset when they didn't. Case in point: My child's second grade teacher who told the class they couldn't throw snowballs during recess and then took away recess for the rest of the week when the 8-year-olds couldn't help themselves from playing in the new snow. Every time I hear a baby cry on an airplane or see a toddler melting down in a grocery store or, heaven forbid, a cranky kid at a restaurant, I get annoyed (don't we all, a little bit?), but I remember that all of these things are developmentally normal for kids trying to figure out society's complex set of rules.
Not every parent of a kid in these situations gets an automatic pass, but I do try to give them automatic compassion. It's hard enough dealing with an upset child; it's even harder when you feel like you're being judged by everyone around you. And if money were on the line, too? We'll just get dinner to go, thanks.
And, not for nothing, what if a child is able to sit for a long period of time and is deemed worthy of the discount? It's not right to reward the parents, when thechilddid something impressive. You wouldn't give a parent money for her kid's good grades, would you? It should be thekidswho get the extra money, in cash for a cool new toy — not the parents. If you're going to make kids suffer joylessly to eat at your restaurant, you better givethemthe reward.
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