Oh, Baby: The Alinea Tweet Debate
Earlier this week, celebrity chef Grant Achatz of Alinea created a bit of a twitter uproar when he posted the following tweet:
Although I don’t think he intended to be controversial (it’s a very reasonably worded question, actually), he certainly sparked much debate among parents and non-parents alike. I was personally surprised about how many of my Facebook followers had strong opinions about it.
In my opinion, I think any time we make blanket bans on children, it’s not a good idea. It seems like it could be a slippery slope to banning kids from many more public places, such as the coffee shop I read about recently that didn’t want to allow children. Frankly, children are a part of life (spoiler alert: we were ALL kids once!) and banning them from more and more places seems like an inappropriate response.
A better solution would be to rely on parents to use judgment – and, of course, for parents to actually USE good judgment when deciding where to bring children and how to deal with them when they are there.
For example, as much as I love kids, it’s a simple fact that not everywhere is appropriate for them (ahem, R rated movies or late night clubs?) and the same probably goes for fine dining restaurants like Alinea. If you have any doubts about whether it’s right for your kid, then don’t take them. And, if you do take them with you and it winds up being a mistake, be reasonable. Things don’t always according to plan so be flexible and leave the restaurant!
As parents, we need to band together as a community. When one set of parents alienates an entire restaurant of diners paying hundreds of dollars for their meals, it makes the rest of us who are doing a great job look bad. Make good choices for your kids and for the rest of us because most of us (luckily!) don’t have kids that scream all the time. Most importantly, put your children first. Allowing them to scream all the way through a fancy meal is no fun for them or for the fellow diners!
In defense of the parents, many people did point out that Alinea requires all meals to be pre-paid. Perhaps these parents had planned this meal for ages, with appropriate child care arranged, and then things fell through at the last minute. Rather than waste the money and cancel their special night, maybe they evaluated their options and decided to give it a shot. Most parents have been in similar situations – a carefully planned event is derailed by some unexpected child-related situation. So I do feel for these parents, especially since they are undoubtedly a wee bit embarrassed by the storm surrounding their failed date night!
And for those without kids? Please don’t assume this one family represents the rest of us! And have a little compassion. You can’t understand how difficult this situation was for them until you’ve dragged multiple small, screaming children through a public space while others openly gawk at you!