February 11, 2013

The Well-Behaved Child Discount

We’ve all been there. You go out to dinner and there are children present, they might even be your own. They scream, cry, run around the restaurant… in short, they are Jeffrey. You remember Jeffrey, don’t you?

Bill Cosby, in his standup “Bill Cosby: Himself” introduced us to Jeffrey. “Jeffrey was four years old. I know that because Jeffrey kept walking around the plane saying ‘I’m four years old. I was three but now I’m four years old.’ I know his name, not because he told me “I’m four years old” but because his mother said his name all 2,500 miles…. People began to fear Jeffrey.”

Last week, a surprising photo began making its way around the internet; a receipt from a restaurant with a $4 discount for Well Behaved Kids. Laura King and her husband took their three children — ages 2,3, and 8 — to a local Kingston, Washington eatery for dinner. The waiter brought the kids a bowl of ice cream to share after thanking the parents for such “exceptionally behaved kids.” Imagine the couple’s surprise when they received their bill and the dessert was comped because the children were good.

The Daily Mail reports that Rob Scott, owner of Sogno di Vino, rewards well-behaved children with a complimentary dessert, but has never before put it on the receipt.

First, let me say BRAVO to the King family for raising such well-behaved children. Mrs. King speaks to of having dinner as a family most nights, engaging the children in conversation during dinner, making sure the little ones have had a nap and a snack before going out in public, and discussions of general etiquette. WAY TO GO! And Mr. Scott, thank you for rewarding such parenting diligence. These sorts of interactions go a long way towards making sure everyone in the restaurant enjoys their night out.

As for the rest of you, society as a whole: for shame! This sort of thing used to be the norm. I remember knowing down to my bones that if I acted up in public I would be paying for it when we got home. I also remember my mother and father leaving food on the table, or a movie half watched, or walking out of church halfway through the sermon when one of us acted up so that no one else had to suffer with our bad manners. I remember those family dinners, as well. At least twice a week, regardless of schedules and activities and personal wishes, my family sat down to the table together to eat and talk about our day. Then we played Monopoly or Risk or dominoes together.

I didn’t realize how much we were learning about public behavior and family connections until I was much older. My first time to live away from home, I worked for a large pet food chain in an affluent part of Houston and it was an eye opening experience to be around badly behaved children. After about a month of picking up the millions of items kids took off the shelf, or listening to them scream at the store cat, I called my mom to thank her for NEVER allowing us to act that way in public.

Where did manners go? Why do we act as if our children are entitled to be hooligans, instead of demanding they have respect for themselves and the people surrounding them? Shouldn’t the King family be the norm instead of the exception? We have become a society where Jeffrey is not only accepted, but expected. It is embarrassing to me that we have allowed our manners to deteriorate to the point where a family having dinner out without screaming, badly behaved children has become international news.

Image Credit: Jill Chen / Shutterstock

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