DEAR MISS MANNERS: As the manager of a restaurant, I witness appalling behavior from customers (and yes, I do admit from my staff as well) on a regular basis. However, nothing irks me more than when parents bring kids' meals from fast food places for their children to eat at the restaurant, soft drinks and all.
Although we serve ethnic food, we consider our restaurant to be family-friendly and we make an effort to serve our guests of all ages by including a special menu for children. Most kids really enjoy the food we serve.
What would be an appropriate action to take the next time I see this happening? I find bringing in fast food to a nice sit down restaurant to be awfully offensive, and I also feel that they are depriving their children the chance to explore their taste buds and expand their horizons.
GENTLE READER: What you need here is a corkage fee. "Ah," the waiter should say to the children in a tone that is in no way condescending, "I see you brought a picnic." And then he should whisk it away, being sure to mention to the parents that there will be a service fee for serving it.
Miss Manners would like to see you turn this into a pleasant and educational experience for the children. Their food should be prettily set out on plates and served with a flourish. And the waiter should address the children respectfully, saying, "Here you are, sir, miss," and adding, "I've brought you a little something extra, on the house." That would be a small taste of any specialty of yours that generally appeals to children.
Yes, the parents will be annoyed at the fee. But the children will be clamoring to return, and we all know who prevails in that sort of conflict.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My brother and his family come to our home each year for Thanksgiving weekend, and my husband and I aren't used to kids around that much. My husband loudly expressed what he would and would not let the kids do if they were his. He "joked" about how much he was looking forward to peace and quiet again. My brother noticed and "joked" several times that we'd sure be happy when they left.
As the hosts, I feel it's rude of us not to have our guests feel completely welcome. It's not our job to raise their kids or tell them how to do it or expect that they will do it the way we were raised 40+ years ago. I think they are really normal, active kids.
I told my husband he was rude to my brother and his wife. He says I didn't stick up for him. What is the role of a host to a family whose kids that don't act like your theoretical perfect kids would act -- (especially since we have no first-hand experience in child rearing)?
GENTLE READER: Your husband does not seem to have needed your help when he successfully made your brother feel that his family was unwanted in your house. Even hosts whose houses are under physical siege from unrestrained children have to pretend that they are only concerned about the safety of their young guests, not about their upbringing. In any case, Miss Manners recommends that you explain to your husband that insulting your guests is not the way to demonstrate a commitment to proper behavior.