SmackDown: Should a Kid Be Allowed to Scream at a Restaurant?
Scream at Home, Kid.by Jessica Samakow
There's nothing that can ruin a good dish of penne a la vodka more than a side of screaming child.
We've all been there. We ignore the wails for a few minutes until the ringing in our eardrums becomes impossible to ignore. We glance over our shoulders and give the screamer's parents an evil glare implying, "Shut your kid up before I throw my dinner in your general direction."
So, if a privately-owned restaurant chooses to ban screaming children so that customers can simply enjoy a good meal, is that so wrong?
As a person with a 30-second patience range, I would have to say no. In fact, if I were to stumble upon a restaurant like Olde Salty's in North Carolina, bearing a "Screaming children will not be tolerated" sign in the window, I would become a regular visitor.
And when the time comes for me to call a screaming child my own, I'd have to pick a new favorite spot, say Chuck E. Cheese, or call a babysitter for the night and have a nice, quiet meal at Olde Salty's.
One mother, Kelly Chambliss, has a bone to pick with the sign in the window. Since her autistic son is prone to screaming tantrums because of his disability, she says he's being singled out and that this ban is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Makes me want to scream.
Lady, this is not an issue of discrimination. This is not an issue of violating human rights. This is not even an issue of a person's right to dine in a public restaurant. The real issue here is that you were clearly not paying attention in your seventh-grade history class.
Bear with me as I refresh your memory. Discrimination, according to our good friends at Merriam-Webster is "the process by which two stimuli differing in some aspect are responded to differently." The key word here being differently.
As the sign in the window of Olde Salty's reads: "Screaming children will not be tolerated." The sign does not allude to which types of screaming children will not be tolerated. The six-worded sign is clear. Any screaming child, autistic or bratty or moody or sleep-deprived or hungry, will not be tolerated. All children will be treated the same.
For her part, Olde Salty's manager Brenda Armes says she is not trying to silence children, nor is she trying to find a method to do so. All the woman wants to do is give her restaurant patrons a meal without the soundtrack of a wailing child in the background.
I like a person with clearly defined priorities. Especially ones that are in alignment with my own.
Now, if Olde Salty's were to spiff up its decor, quadruple its prices and rename itself, "Le Sel," no one would be complaining. A sign would not have to be posted for parents to realize that bringing a screaming child to such a fine establishment would be le miserable.
Unfortunately, my wallet does not allow for me to dine at Le Sel. But wouldn't it be great if there were middle-class restaurants where my middle-class friends and I could enjoy the same type of peaceful atmosphere without having to drop our whole paycheck on a steak?
But I digress. Olde Salty's is a small business, not the United States Government. If Brenda Armes marched to the Capitol, lobbying for a screaming-child ban in all restaurants nationwide, Kelly Chambliss may have a case in calling her actions "illegal."
But if she were really speaking for her son, chances are he would probably be saying, "Don't worry about it, Mom. I'd rather go to that place with the burgers and bouncy castle anyway."
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.