Monday, 31 January 2011

Colouring Pencils In Restaurants – A Rant

Dear restaurant owner, please ask before offering my child colouring pencils or crayons at the dining table. It isn't allowed at home, so why would it be allowed in your restaurant?

Lara has been dining out with us at restaurants since she was 3 weeks old! At 19 months she is now old enough to sit up at the table with us and enjoy a meal (quite what foods she gets to enjoy depends on the 'children's menu' available but I shall save THAT rant for another day). Over the last few of months, every time I have taken Lara to a restaurant, she has been presented with some paper and coloured pencils... this is doing my head in.



Lara enjoying a meal out when she was 8 months old!



Like all toddlers, Lara can be a bit of a handful when she is hungry, and if she gets bored she sometimes needs some entertaining. I understand the thinking behind the presentation of coloured pencils to children, I really do, but I just wish that restaurateurs would ask me before supplying 'entertainment' for my own children. I want Lara to grow up to know how to behave at the dinner table and to join in with the pre-dinner chit cat with the grown ups. Dining out is as much about the social occasion as it is about the food. I don't want Lara to be the troublesome kid causing havoc, or the child who ignores everything going on around them. I don't want her to be absorbed in colouring pencils, or a personal console, or even a cuddly toy... I want Lara to join in with us.

That isn't to say that I would always refuse the offer of colouring pencils in a restaurant. No, sometimes I need all the help I can get to keep her calm until the food arrives. But, once the crayons have arrived, there is no going back and even food can sometimes be ignored in favour of frantic scribbling. For this reason, Mr or Mrs waitress, kindly ask me before plonking the colouring pencils down in front of my child. Thank you.
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