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No Children Allowed, AKA THE BRAT BAN?!

I'm so rarely ahead of the curve however just last week some 28 yo friend of my youngest sister was hollering at me on Facebook about "my alleged parental indignation" over not being ALLOWED to take my kids to see a Harry Potter movie, at ten in the morning on a summer's day. My sister had gone to a movie theatre that had a bar and reserved seating and was gushing about drinking cocktails at ten am while watching Harry Potter with nary a kid in sight. Her friend chirped in, "I hate kids and would support anyplace that bans or at least segregates them." I mentioned that possibly she forgot what being a kid was like and that as a Generation Y prodigy why wasn't she enjoying these "kid" films in the privacy of her kid-free home or AFTER 8:30 in  a theatre as many children(I'll go with under ten?) are safely tucked away by then. 

Recently on SHINE @ Yahoo there was an article about the "brat ban." It garnered 1000's of responses in a mere matter of hours. It noted that Whole Foods Market was launching  kid free shopping hours, again no age for a "kid" definition which is bothersome. Many people supported the idea of this ban based on their experience with disruptive children and their unresponsive parents so they went one step further and said, no kids! I believe some were naive enough to compare children to second hand smoke.WHAT?? We are going to punish everyone for the actions of a few? The responses in favor of the ban were split equally amongst parents with babies/grown children and DINKS. (double income no kids) Some of the older DINKS(my friends apparently) thought this was a bad idea and I'll use their words because they are not biased as card carrying non-breeders.

Children need practice interacting in society. How can you ban kids from playing outside, where are they supposed to play? (a condominium rule noted in the article) Isn't this a slippery slope, start banning one demographic and move onto more:  adults with Autism/Tourette's, old folks who shout because they can't hear, people who shuffle down the sidewalk and people who drive with their blinker on for miles.(ok, the last one was mine)

Twenty years of raising children later I can say, yes it's all true. Children do not wake up miraculously one day as mindful, respectful adults who say please and thank you. It falls on parents to teach them how to behave and no Chuck E Cheese with it's deafening noise isn't where you go to practice "your inside voice." It's where you go to see what purgatory is really like without dying if you are older than ten or scared to death of overgrown rats. In our society we generally go with innocent until proven guilty yet we are more than willing to banish all kids because some kids are a nuisance, really? Should this be my children's first lesson in "double standard?"

Children have no voice in politics because they don't vote, yet so many decisions are made to cut programs that directly and negatively impact them. In the Golden State during the 80's there were FOUR lobbyists for the Avocado Growers Association and ONE for the Children's Defense Fund.  Slash school spending, cut after school programs,  deem  ketchup a vegetable so the really poor kids didn't get something as simple as carrot sticks with their lunch, cut children's subsidized healthcare and free vaccinations.The last one is really ironic. Bill and Melanie Gates spend billions vaccinnating children in other countries yet we balk at giving kids basic medical care here. 

Businesses who think the "brat ban" is a good idea should enact a version of it, post signs EVERYWHERE in your place of business/website/ticket counter stating that disruptive people regardless of age, gender, race or religion will be asked to leave and no refunds will be given. That would be fair and it would uphold the standard creed of behavior which is your actions have consequences, act accordingly. That means the punk-rock, twenty somethings standing behind me in line for popcorn using swear words that would make a porn star blush, would be escorted out? The guy who can't put his cell phone down and is shouting into it, toast! The 19yo girls who want to talk about their latest hook up during the previews and from 3 rows away we now know where her newest piercing is, adios! Bring the ban  in that form and I'm right there with you on banning obnoxious behavior, but please don't consider banning kids across the board. 

I have always been told how "good" my kids are whether they were mine or not. I have standards of behavior, everyone tried at least once to cross the line and without inflicting injury I managed to put out their flame of rebellion. It was and continues to be work. I have made every allowance to accomodate my kids, we ate dinner at 5 in nice resturants with the retirees so my kids were not over tired or famished. We limited sightseeing in Paris to one major event a day with the 16month old so there would be enough time for parks and ice cream in the shade. I still limited sightseeing to one "adult" event such as the Louvre when I had a 4, 6 and 8yo in tow and kept it at 60-90 minutes. The promise of a spin on the merry-go-round or schelpping to an arcade for 30 minutes post the "cultured" visit generally was enough to keep them inline. I have scooped screaming kids off of floors and swooped them out of stores. I did leave one child home from the promised amusement park visit, when she couldn't keep her  four year old self together on a transatlantic flight(11 hours) after three warnings. I rarely had to do it twice, it made enough of an impression the first time.

With less time than money I will not be wasting my resources on businesses where children are outright banned and regardless of price will definitely continue to support those businesses that treat my children as people and not convicts. I wrote a letter to our local market, Mulberry's, thanking them for that very thing. It's a charming neighborhood market that is a little pricey and while I appreciate that the barista will start my coffee before I've gotten to the front of the line I'm more impressed that with a throng of people waiting in line the counter person will lean over the counter to hear my slightly short 8 yo order his sandwich when it's his turn, without looking around to make eye contact with an adult. Soon the 8 yo will be 18 and able to go to war for his country or possibly discover the cure for cancer, AIDS or broker world peace. Is it really a prudent idea to treat the youngest members of our society as lepers or nuisances on par with second hand smoke that should be banished from places where "adults" gather? Strip clubs, bars and R rated movies are the pervue of adults. I'm not willing to make Harry Potter a kid free zone, I know who is paying into my social security so if you don't mind I'll be sitting at the "kids table."



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Comment by Diane Reiter on July 18, 2012 at 10:51pm

I agree that kids need to learn to behave in public places and the only way to do it is to practice. When our kids were small, we had friends that said they NEVER went out to eat or shopping with their kids because they were so disruptive. We took our kids everywhere, partly because we thought it was good for them and partly because we had no family that could help us out if we ever wanted to go somewhere (and we didn't want to be locked up in our house 24/7 or my husband and I probably would haver ripped each other's heads off out of boredome).


Our kids could be obnoxious (asking too many questions, made jelly packet towers, etc) but they were never disruptive or rude -- and we were often complimented on their behavior.


I'm with you. You want to sip cocktails while watching a movie? Hit Redbox and the liquor store and do it at home.

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