Pit of despair

23 May

While Vios on Capitol Hill is often quite delightful and the public space in Lake Forest Park Third Place has many charms, most of the time I avoid eateries that cater to parents by creating an area dedicated to small children (aka kid pits). I hate kid pits. Not because they’re germy. Not because the toys are often broken. Not even because every single place I’ve ever visited that has a kid pit is usually crazy loud and staffed by martyrs who may have once enjoyed children but now can barely make eye contact with a parent. (Though all these things are, sadly, true.)

I hate kid pits because there is a subset of parents who use their existence as an opportunity to avoid parenting. Parents who bring their children out to eat and expect to be able to ignore them. Parents who allow their children to shout, destroy things, beat on other kids and create a moving obstacle course for servers and other parents to avoid. People who bring special food into a restaurant and do not order or tip accordingly. Sure, sometimes you need to bust out the raisin stash to keep a child happy while you’re waiting for the appetizer. However, if your child can’t/won’t eat anything sold at the establishment, maybe you shouldn’t bring her there. At the very least, ask your server if outside food is permitted.  Also, please consider ordering something extra for takeout.  (Obvious exception for babies not yet on solids.)

If you want your child to enjoy dining out and to be enjoyable companions, it takes effort. Going out with kids under 10 means compromise: eating earlier (and faster), leaving before you’re really ready, bringing toys, cleaning up your mess. It means tipping better and encouraging your children to say hello, thank you, and goodbye. Parenting in public is hard, and sometimes unrewarding. It’s also critical in helping your kid become a functional member of society–totally worth the effort. I avoid kid pits because they give my kid a chance to observe (and, god forbid, practice) exactly the opposite of how we want her to behave.

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