Mums and dads of small children, please spare a moment to fill in this little questionnaire.
Q. When you go to a restaurant with your little ones, do they:
1) Run riot, crawl or stomp around, chuck their food on the floor and on other diners, play hide-and-seek, kill-the-zombies or cowboys-and-Indians, and generally treat the restaurant as their own personal fiefdom in the manner of a soft play centre? Or...
2) Sit still, keep themselves to themselves, eat with their knives and forks, keep (most of) their food on the table, generally enjoy the experience in a civilised manner just as you'd expect them to at home?
And if you answered 1) Are you:
a) Aware of it, but think 'kids will be kids and if other people have a problem with my parenting skills, then they can see me outside and I'll knock their lights out'?; or...
b) Not aware of it because I'm too busy gossiping with other adults and, besides, I don't get out much and so when I do it's a blessed relief to ignore my children and let completely strangers effectively childmind them instead while I have some long overdue 'me time'; or...
c) Wasn't aware of it, but am now and I'm mortified, thanks for pointing it out.
And if you answered 2) Do you think:
a) I'm extremely tolerant and I don't care what other people's children get up to in restaurant as long as mine are polite and don't get on other diners' nerves; or...
b) Why are my kids so bloody perfect, here, go and stick your fork into that grumpy man's leg while he's trying to work?; or...
c) Why the hell do I bother teaching my kids manners and how to behave in society, I might as well crack open a bottle of wine and have a laugh with my mates and let the kids do what the hell they like for all the thanks I get. But I'm not going to do that because I wasn't brought up that way, and I'm not going to stop teaching my kids manners just because an increasingly significant section of society seems to think that their world view is the only world view and sod everybody else's enjoyment, feelings and personal space.
Ahem! I have a confession to make: that last one – that's me that is! I might be deluding myself, but I certainly like to believe that my kids are a model example of how to behave in a restaurant.
Partly this is because I tie their hands beneath their thighs to stop them playing with the ketchup, and their shoe laces together to stop them wandering over to other diners' tables. Oh, and putting masking tape over their mouths to stop them interrupting their mother and I also helps.
But I'd like to think that it's mainly because I am respectfully aware of other people's rights to enjoy the meal they have worked hard to pay for without having my children in their faces. And I respectfully expect to receive that respect in return.
Which is why, the next time we go out for a family meal, I wish we could go to Calgary. OK, it's 4,364 miles away from where we live, but if we went often enough, we'd get all the air fares back thanks to the genius idea of a restaurant owner.
Toshi Karino, owner of a Japanese bistro called Carino in the Canadian city, rewards parents with a discount on their bill if their children are well behaved.
The gesture came to light when parents Daley and Alicia Welsh were dining at Carino with their almost one-year-old daughter Evie.
Alicia, 34, explained: "When we got the bill, my husband noticed there was a 'well behaved kids' discount on it and $5 off our bill.
"We just thought it was really sweet and really nice."
Daley added: "Our daughter is like most babies. She has her on and off days. We avoid taking her out if she's fussy."
Unassuming owner Toshi said: "We welcome the kids and wanted to show some appreciation for kids (of course for parents!) with dining manners if they don't make other diners uncomfortable."
He said the restaurant has been offering this special $5 discount for quite some time, telling Global News: "We've been doing it for about a year but this is the first time that we've ever given it out that people have noticed."
Sounds like my perfect restaurant – especially if I leave my own kids at home! But there is no such thing as Utopia.
Inevitably, parents who think their brats were put on this earth to express themselves no matter how irritating to other people in paid-for spaces would regard their little tikes as well-behaved despite all evidence to the contrary.
Hell, I might even be amongst that holier-than-thou demographic.
And thus, all hell would break loose over the definition of what is well behaved and what isn't.
Is a baby screaming its head off bad behaviour or a sign it needs its nappy changed?
Is a toddler smearing ketchup on its neighbour's trousers anti-social or merely creative expression?
Is a kid who spills its fruit juice all over the table a nasty piece of work or just a bit clumsy?
Is a child who keeps running to the toilet a nuisance or does he or she have a weak bladder?
Commenting on the restaurant's discount, one Reddit user wrote: "Oh my, as a server this would be amazing.
"Except I'd hate to see those parents who would argue with you about their 'well-behaved children' just so they could get a discount."
Even well-intentioned Toshi agrees, saying: "If customers feel unhappy when we don't give them the discount for the kids, we are concerned about that."
Hmmmm, perhaps I'll forget the trip to Calgary. In fact, forget any trips to restaurants with my brood altogether. That'll save me a few quid.
More:Is It Just Me?
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