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Naughty kids: Stay out of restaurants!

By Johnson Chiang (Global Times)

14:17, May 27, 2013

Have you been gripped by a feeling that takes over your soul and creeps up your arms to your hands and fingertips, demanding you grab the annoying child at the restaurant table by the throat and slowly choke him into silence?

I do, quite often.

Let us make it clear that I am psychologically healthy, have no criminal record and hate those people who judge others by their income or hometown.

But when that 7-year-old naughty girl starts crying in the restaurant and throws spoons and chopsticks onto the floor; when that 5-year-old boy approaches me, examines my food and demands a taste, all I want to do is grab them by the neck and dump them onto the street outside.

However, when I turn to their parents for help, I find them smiling with ultimate patience, with facial expressions saying, "What a lovely naughty angel, you see how energetic he is?"

So when I read that a newly opened swanky restaurant in Beijing declared it would not serve children who are below 12-years-old, I thought I would probably give it a try.

I cannot agree with the wrathful parents who swamped the restaurant's social network account, claiming that they and their children had been discriminated against. Actually, this has nothing to do with discrimination, but with respect.

The delicacy of food is one of the best treats in the world, and also an ideal lubricant for establishing a conversation. Most people who go to restaurants usually have three major purposes: feed themselves, enjoy the cuisine, and communicate with someone. In a civilized society, these purposes are protected and preserved by most customers. There are some unspoken rules: no smoking, no loud talking, no impolite interruption in other people's space.

But a spoiled child can easily ruin all this. It is necessary to point out that spoiled children are a universal headache for diners and restaurant owners, but the situation in China is even worse. Here many parents just let their children create noise or bother neighbor tables. Perhaps the family planning policy China has been adopting for three decades, which only allows a family to have one baby, has made children too precious to learn manners?

Or is respecting other people and public spaces something that my culture lacks?

Restaurants which limit children from entering should not be criticized. Before the children of this society are recognized as capable of behaving themselves, or before the adults of this society come to a consensus that children are adorable no matter how poorly they behave, letting them into all restaurants is just putting other people's feelings at risk.

But parents don't be disappointed!

There are still plenty of places you can go, like McDonalds. They offer special meals, small toys and even a tiny wonderland for every child. You can watch them laugh, shout and cry without spoiling their meal. After all, who expects fast food to be a delicate experience anyway?

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