Virtual Voices

No kids allowed?

Family

Thinking of heading out with your little ones for a movie or a nice dinner?

You may want to call ahead first.

A Yahoo Shine! article (which garnered an astonishing 18,000-plus comments) highlights the growing trend in some cities to exclude babies and/or young children from certain restaurants, movie theaters, and grocery stores such as Whole Foods, which just this summer instituted child-free shopping hours in its Missouri stores.

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This article references another Shine article from last year that mentioned a poll by Skyscanner showing that 60 percent of travelers would like child-free zones on airplanes, while 20 percent would like child-free flights altogether. It also talked about a North Carolina restaurant that posted a sign that said, "Screaming children will NOT be tolerated."

So, what's up with all this? Are DINKs (dual income, no kids) and other supporters of such measures being selfish and snobby, or do they have a point?

I was sitting and pondering this question at the Kansas City Airport the other day when three boys, about ages 8, 4, and 2, came storming in, tripping and tumbling over each other. The little one got up on the seats and ran back and forth across the whole row. The middle one blatantly ran away when his dad called him and refused to share his apple juice with his brother. When the baby lost his pacifier, the older boy picked it up, put it in his back pocket, leaving his brother screaming. When his mom asked if he'd seen it, he said no. Middle brother now is bending backward over the chairs, his legs sticking out into the aisle. Dad is seething mad, hissing at him through clenched teeth. Baby is whacking the window. Brother being chased by dad.

We prayed they weren't on our plane.

They were-as were at least four other babies, who cried in polyphony the entire flight to Seattle. One said "no, no, no" for over an hour without drawing breath.

So while I understand how such "bans" might be offensive to parents, perhaps instead of reacting with knee-jerk defensiveness, we should listen to the complaints proponents are putting forth. We can't help it if our babies cry, but what about slightly older children? Are they obnoxious to be around? Are they running around like wild savages in nice restaurants? Are they interrupting people's conversations and ruining their nights out?

And, to flip those questions on their heads, if they weren't our cherubs straight from heaven would we want to eat dinner with them goofing around next to us? Would we want them screaming behind us on a plane? Would we want to sit in a movie theater with them while they throw popcorn at each other?

If our answer is "no way!" we shouldn't get our knickers in a bunch over those who wouldn't want to either.

Amy Henry
Amy Henry

Amy is a married mother of six and a WORLD correspondent from Kansas. Follow her other "scribbles" at Whole Mama or by reading her book Story Mama: What Children's Stories Teach Us About Life, Love and Mothering. Follow Amy on Twitter @wholemama.

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