Friday, March 24, 2006

Children at the Buffet

Buffets are family friendly restaurants. Perhaps I should say most buffets, as there are some of those "fine" dining buffets with linen table clothes and a price to go with them. Never the less, children are not a problem at buffets, but sometimes their parents are. This may be indicative of parenting in 2006, but when the kids are up from the table on their own and moving around the restaurant there are many problems.

I have taken children to buffets - my nieces and my nephew. They were expected to sit and eat their meal, as they would be expected in any restaurant. When they wished something from the buffet, an adult went with them, helped them get what they wanted and then escorted them back to the table. Yet all too often what you see and have to dine with are children - as young as 6 and 7 (maybe younger) up from the table at the serving table on their own. They can barely reach the serving spoon. They can't hold or balance their plate as they reach into the tray with the spoon. They don't know not to take a taste and then put the food back into the tray. Have you seen a child put his whole hand into the tray? I have. That is why they are kids. Not their fault, really. But their parents should know better.

Children also like to roam around the restaurant. The parents don't seem to mind - they probably relish the time without the kids at the table. There seems to be an idea that because you get up to serve yourself, you also can just get up to wander around - and in the case of the kids - play. The buffet makes a great playground. There are tables to visit. Things to see. Lots of room to run around. Right? No, wrong. I watched two pre-teen girls moving back and forth across the buffet room the other night. They were from two different tables at opposite sides of the restaurant. They had met there that night - I guess, over the serving table and became instant companions for the evening. The problem was that they moved back and forth from each others table across the room. You would get up to go to the serving table and there they were, walking across - constantly. This went on for over an hour - and along the way they ate as they traveled. I like kids. I work with kids. But kids need structure and they need limit setting - in fact, I can share, professionally, that they crave it. They need parents to tell them that they are in a restaurant and they need to sit down and eat.

If you take your kids to a buffet - children and adolescents - teach them some dining out decorum. Keep them with you at the table and accompany them up to the food. Please don't let them wander. Please don't let them go up on their own. There are too many ways for them to get hurt -walked over by the adults who pay attention to nothing more than their plate as they walk around, burned by a hot tray, tripped over by wait staff clearing dishes, etc., etc., etc. AND it is annoying to everyone who is just out to enjoy their meal. Enough said. Any comments?

1 comment:

Angela said...

Amen!