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Do Diners Have A Right To Quiet?

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Crying babies cause us all anguish, whether they belong to us or not. In a waiting room, a shop, an aeroplane, the appearance of a red-faced little squealer has us all wincing and grimacing. But in a quiet restaurant it can provoke some of us into action, surely this is the one place you can be free from the wailing of your offspring or anyone else's?

A man was jailed last week for smashing a wine bottle over the head of a fellow diner at an Indian restaurant for suggesting that he took his crying 7month old home to bed! Well if I had been in that restaurant I too would have been in danger of a bottle attack because I also think that over half an hour of wailing is more than enough for anyone, the little one included.

Nothing causes more debate among the socialising classes than the presence of children and babies in traditional 'adults only' environments such as pubs and restaurants. (Malaysia Airlines have even taken the step of banning youngsters from first class cabins recently - seems money can buy you silence?)

I too have a small child and am well aware of the problems facing parents in hostile environments not set up for kids - no room for pushchairs, the unfriendly glances from childless couples and lets not get started on the breast-feeding in public debate... But I have always been well aware of my responsibilities - to myself, my child and the public. I've both complained about a noisy child and taken my own noisy child outside. I believe you should only subject others to what you yourself would feel acceptable if you were in their position.

And of course there is certainly no need to be aggressive or attack anyone who complains about the hearty cries that you yourself might find so endearing and healthy. It is certainly not a good example to present to any watching child and another good reason why youngsters should perhaps not be present in late night establishments where people have been drinking?

Too many parents try to carry on with their normal lives after labour day, defiantly carrying on with the drinking, dining out and socialising they did before little Johnny or Ella came on the scene. I used to love frequenting cocktail bars, hotel bars, café bars, just bars in general really, before I had my son and I still do today when I get the chance, but I would not dream of taking him with me. I'm not sure he would get a lot of it and I'm damn sure my fellow drinkers wouldn't either? Of course new parents don't want to feel as if their lives are over, or as if they are unable to do things they previously enjoyed or even be seen out in public, but the fact remains their lives have changed, therefore changes do need to be made (even if its just investing in a good babysitter).

If we want a meal or a drink out with our son, and we do believe it is important to get him eating out in public early, my husband and I have a huge rota of all the local family-friendly pubs and restaurants in the area, there are loads of them and no one minds a bit of screaming or running around. If they did there would be little cause for complaint, unless of course the children were being badly behaved (which is a whole different ball game all together).

There is however, cause for complaint if a quiet evening meal out with your loved one - which you too are paying for and have a right to enjoy - is ruined by a screaming baby who'd much rather be at home anyway. Just watch out who you complain to, maybe approach the manager if you don't want to end up in a fight...