My husband and I have no children, not our own nor from any previous relationships. It's a choice we made and we are happy with it. We don't hate children and they aren't evil. I handle child noise and such better than he does but even I get a little on edge with the screams sometimes.
I understand, as does he, that we cannot expect a restaurant that caters to families to ever be child free. I don't think it's a lot to ask that it be screaming-jumping-running-shouting child free. I also don't think it's a lot to expect a parent not to use in a restaurant meal time to encourage a small child to squeal loudly and shriek at the top of it's lungs. But then, what do I know?
We went to Chili's tonight. It's a weeknight, a Monday no less. Half the restaurant, literally, was empty as in no one at the tables at all. It was about 5pm when we got there. The hostess started to seat the two of us in a corner with three families with small and already shrieking children around us. We asked if we could sit in quieter area and she gladly complied but we were still on the same side of the restaurant with the families while no one NO ONE was on the other, much quieter, side of the restaurant. Hey, I get it. You don't want the limited wait staff to have to cover the whole place like a volleyball team playing on a football field. That makes sense.
Then, the hostess, who seated us in this quieter area (a relative term I assure you as the music was turned up loudly enough so that we had to almost shout to be heard) proceeded to fill all the tables on all sides of us with families with loud screaming children.
The manager asked if there was anything she could get for us and I told her a cone of silence would be awesome as I couldn't hear myself think. She laughed and said she didn't have one and I said I thought not. We finished our food as quickly as possible and left. We even discussed taking the food to go and eating it next door in McDonalds because it was actually quieter there but I was too stubborn to give up.
I get it. You want to go out as a family. I get that it's impossible to keep a small child from occasionally shrieking in delight or displeasure. It happens. I don't really want to hear it while I'm eating though. It doesn't mean I hate children. I hate noise.
Why can't a restaurant like Chili's just seat the patrons with children in the same area together and double up the wait staff in that section and then seat couples or groups of adults without children in a separate area, like on the other side of the bar? Ask the childless adults if they would like family seating or something more low key or find any phrase you like to describe it. Please, I beg of you, let me have a quiet dinner out. I now dread going back there. Loud music, screaming kids, a hostess who doesn't understand the meaning of quiet.... I want to relax with my husband somewhere where other people will cook for me and I don't have to take out a second mortgage to afford to eat.
Please understand. It's not really about the kids. It's about the noise. Whatever your arguments on what to expect as appropriate behavior from child in a restaurant, I make no judgement on that.
Just please let me relax in your establishment without so much noise and PLEASE turn down the music while you are at it. It really only makes it worse.