On Saturday night two of my grown-up (read: responsible) friends took their 10-year-old son out to dinner with them at Piccolo in North Hobart.
Reportedly, as they walked in the door, the whole room looked up with concern, as would I have done if a younger person threatened to ruin my dining experience in an upmarket (read: expensive) establishment just by their very presence.
We are talking about one very civilized 10-year-old, not a screaming toddler. So civilized he ordered from the menu - no requests for chicken nuggets and chips here - he sat up straight, he ordered politely and he never made a fuss. Why not? Because he's 10, not three, and his parents have raised him to be a polite and well mannered young man.
So why shouldn't my friends be able to take their son with them to a nice restaurant for a nice meal, if he will enjoy the evening as much as they would? Their son after all, did not behave like a child. The were home at a reasonable hour, not sitting at the bar sinking gin and tonics (as I would have been) while their bored child played Gameboy. Society dictates that restaurants are the domain of grown-ups (as they are, most kids find them terribly dull) on a Friday and Saturday evening, but perhaps their is room in our restaurant circle for a few well mannered young guests, no?
Behavior is the key. I for one would be perfectly happy to sit at a table next to a young adult who was behaving like an adult. And I for one would expect nothing less from my (currently imaginary) children.
My friend tells me that during their very enjoyable evening a number of customers commented on their son's very good behavior, as did the staff as they were leaving. She also tells me this happens fairly frequently.
This I like. God knows I know bugger all about parenting, but I think my friends are definitely doing something right. And the world needs more little boys like this one, because good kids grow up to be good customers, hallelujah.
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