No Kids Allowed

“They just lifted the ban on kids in hospital,” my friend, a local nurse, informed me. “And let me tell you, it’s madness.” She went on to describe situations where people were crowding hospital rooms, bringing the whole family to visit their loved one who had the misfortune to end up in the hospital. “With this economy, there are no private rooms,” she went on. “Families are coming into a shared hospital room, crowding up the whole place. And that person’s neighbor has to also share a room with all these strangers. People are trying to get better, attempting to get some rest, and there are screaming children in the rooms.” Just this past week, a mother had left her crying baby in the hallway while she visited. A patient in another room pulled my friend aside, pleading with her, “I just need to get some rest.”

“And hospitals are dirty,” my friend continued. “It’s not that they aren’t sanitized regularly, but you have to figure it’s full of sick people. Some of these people have diseases that are very contagious. In fact, when nurses get off duty and go home, we strip out of our clothes and don’t let them touch anything else.” While nurses are diligent in making sure that none of the bacteria and germs from the hospital are making themselves comfortable in their homes, families are bringing their children into this environment and letting them play on the floor, sit on the hospital beds, and be in the presence of patients who could very well pass on something serious. They are basically rolling around in all of the sick germs that are crawling all over everything in the hospital. And then, when the family comes home and their kids settle in, the germs are also settling in. They are basically inviting these germs to inhabit their homes.

“And what of the kids themselves?” my friend asked. “Kids are full of ailments as they pass colds and the flu between each other. If there were a cancer patient going through chemotherapy, or a patient who had just suffered a heart attack, their health is being compromised by a child who might be sick.

“Why do families insist on bringing their kids to the hospital?”

After hearing her describe the conditions that exist in a hospital, I was seriously questioning whether I even wanted to enter a hospital again. Thing is, without working in a hospital, it’s easy to miss the fact that it is a building full of sick people. And it’s easy to overlook the opportunity for germs and bacteria to multiply and attach themselves to every healthy person that enters, including children.

Listening to Heather Irwin of on KZST this morning, she and Brent discussed the appropriateness of kids going to fancier restaurants with their parents. Heather was a little more lenient on the idea that some kids can behave themselves in a nicer restaurant (I’d love to see her reaction after bringing the Taz, a kid who was famous in his younger years for rolling around on the floor under the table and picking at leftover gum some classless person had left behind). Brent, on the other hand, was adamant that kids do not belong in a nicer restaurant at all. In fact, even moderate restaurants were questionable. (Note: Heather is wondering about restaurants that have the best kids’ menus, and the conversation is taking an obvious slant towards the inappropriateness of kids in restaurants. Check it out, and chime in)

And then there are the people going wine tasting, and even the bar, toting kids in strollers….

In an area where there are so many families, Sonoma County is generally really kid friendly. There are countless events going on that are geared specifically for families with children of all areas (for example, the ones that are right in the Events Calendar on But that still leaves some events that are not geared for families, ones that many claim shouldn’t be. Yet there are still families that will push the envelope and let their kids accompany them to events and places where other adults might not be too pleased to see them. Not to mention, these days it is hard to go out anywhere without a kid on a leash. Hey, babysitting is expensive! And then, of course, there are the families with children who are so well-behaved, and a large part of that is because they grew up going to fancier restaurants and museums, taking part in events that require them to be quiet and still.

Do you think that there are some places that should be strictly off limits to children?
Have you raised your kids going to fancier events where children are usually scarce?
As a parent of a small child, do you ever feel discriminated against when visiting an event or business with your child?

5 thoughts on “No Kids Allowed

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  1. The poor behavior of a few children will rightfully cause suspicion, dismay, and disapproval among wary adult patrons, sans enfants for the day or for life, who have paid good money to have a civil evening’s entertainment or for a meal. I recall a recent visit to a Starbucks, which has become *the* hot destination for the pre-school set, with strollers and attitude– big as SUVs: Mom was oblivious to other customers’ discomfort as her four-year daughter old shed clothing and undergarments on the floor, and began bouncing on the overstuffed chair. I watched as the child robustly wiped her hands –which had been previously preoccupied with the contents of her napkin and nose– on the chair’s upholstered arms, and initiated a loud conversation with herself. Mom still hadn’t intervened as the child began to climb on the chair, which made me nervous. I observed, loudly enough for Mother to hear, “Just like home, isn’t it?” but Mom only shrugged diffidently: “Some battles aren’t worth fighting”. As the daughter began to balance. one foot on each armrest, I replied, with some heat (and acid), “I disagree”.

    When parents fail to impose and enforce standards, and when they don’t insist on grown-up behavior for grown-up destinations, parental authority and society starts to fall apart. Going out to special places, even Starbucks, gives children a chance to learn and practice self-restraint, patience, and adult manners. But, if kids are too young or too tired to behave appropriately, or if parents are too preoccupied or clueless to work whatever magic is necessary to extract better behavior, then kids need to be removed from the establishment so other patrons aren’t impacted. Preferably before a meltdown (of child, parent, patron, server, or business owner). In the meantime, business owners “reserve the rights to refuse service” to anyone, which should do away with a (secretly hoped for?) “discrimination” complaint. My dogs are better behaved then most children, frankly. And they aren’t allowed on the chairs.

  2. When our three girls were small, we introduced them to restaurant dining. Yes, there were times when it was parents only, and the girls stayed home with a babysitter or a grandma. But we started them out slowly at Lyon’s and Sizzler’s, moving up to the old-new Tides, and finally fine dining at the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite where other patrons praised them for dressing nicely and for their good behavior. They learned early on how to behave in a social setting because if one of them got out of line, she was left home with a sitter the next time. And if one was in trouble, they all stayed home, so they learned quickly how to police each other, albeit with secret pinching and whispers of “Knock it off or Mom’ll get mad.”

    I finally realized how much they had learned when we invited a little friend to join us one time. This young lady didn’t know how to behave in a social setting as she gobbled down her food, blew her nose in the cloth napkin and showed her general lack of manners. Any child can be taught how to behave in a public place, but lessons need to begin at home and need to be consistent. Being a kid and having a good time is fine, but it can be done without annoying everyone else. Even at the local Taco Bell, kids can be taught how to sit in their seats and eat their meals. We even have hopes that the Taz will one day know how to handle his cutlery with skill, sit up straight, and eat most of his dinner wihtout it ending up in his lap or on the floor, hopefully before he’s dating.

  3. I agree with WCM’s Mom. As one of those three girls, I’m glad to have learned the proper manners in a restaurant. We were always told “what will happen when you get older and you go on a date with a boy who is disgusted by your table manners?” This came to mind very recently, when I went on said date, and he commented that he hasn’t been out with many women who were raised with proper table manners. It was shocking to me to hear that people in their 20’s still don’t have the ability to eat neatly, treat restaurant staff and other patrons with respect, and hold dinner conversation without displaying half-chewed food. I think more parents should take the time to instill these traits in their kids, while they are still impressionable enough to retain it.

  4. I think it’s great to start young with manners in a restaurant. My husband and I always take our 2 girls two nice places. Sometimes it’s challenging but the benefit for us is to have them learn about great food, as well as table manners. It’s an on going process but worth the effort!

  5. Great feedback. I wholeheartily agree with all. It’s upon the parents to recognize the situation and instill the proper behavior in a public setting/retaurants or coffeeshops Playgrounds are appropriate for climbing on things-Not restaurants.

    When kids learn that the food is better at the
    nicer restaurants they quickly will learn to act properly.

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