Child-free Spaces

The other day I went to a restaurant. I arrived only to find that I had to wait for a table, which made me very unhappy. I shuffled impatiently for a few seconds and then scowled at the maître d’ in disgust. He looked away before hesitantly tearing himself away from mollifying another guest to steal another glance. I was still upset. This time he glared back and I stuck my tongue out at him. He sputtered and looked away.

I was led to my table but the seat was really uncomfortable so I squirmed a lot. When the waiter took our order, I went for the noodle soup. I was really hungry and the soup was taking too long so I shouted in disgust at the waiter. Everyone stared at me but I didn’t care. It was taking so long! When the soup arrived I eagerly tucked in. It tasted so good I wanted to eat as many noodles as I could in one go. There was soup dribbling down the corner of my mouth and noodles plonking back into the bowl. It was delicious! I finished and let out a loud burp of satisfaction. Mmmm, felt good.

By the time my entree arrived, I was hungry and impatient again. My colleague’s dinner conversation was boring the heck out of me so to distract myself I played a game by spitting out the morsel of steak in my mouth and tried to hit the Waterford emblem on my plate. My colleague seemed surprised and embarrassed. He quickly changed the subject so I decided to interest myself in what he had to say. The ensuing anecdote was rather funny so I guffawed loudly. That seemed to embarrass him too. I can’t understand why. I really found his anecdote funny so I thought I’d let him know! People at other tables were looking at us and it seemed to make my colleague conscious. Not me! I wasn’t sitting at any of their tables; I hadn’t done anything to them.

As the evening wore on, I started getting tired and sleepy. The conversation was stifling me so I decided to get off the chair and stretch my legs a bit. Of course I didn’t mean any disrespect to the others at the table but my legs were falling asleep. This seemed to perturb them again. During my little break, I met someone who seemed interesting so I engaged in a bit of banter, but that seemed to disturb the people at *her* table. Sigh.

It was time for dessert. I wanted something with Chocolate but it was off the menu that night. Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, chocolate, but I wanted chocolate! I was asked to put up with Strawberry or shut up. Grumpily, I ate it. The full meal made me sleepier than ever so I leaned on my colleague’s shoulder for a quick nap. That seemed to be the last straw. They all quickly settled their bill, got up and left with me in tow, reluctantly dragging my sleepy self as a whining entourage of one.

Do you believe any of this? Of course not! I’m an adult, not a child.

I went to dinner, shuffled impatiently as I was made to wait for a table, indulging in banal small talk with my colleagues. I found the seat uncomfortable but kept quiet about it and kept my squirming to a minimum. I really liked the soup but was careful not to let any of it dribble down my chin and was reserved in my praise as befitting a dignified ensemble of professional colleagues. I laughed politely at my colleague’s unfunny jokes and chewed food with my mouth closed. I wanted Chocolate ice cream but did not protest at its absence, apart from a silent click of the tongue. I was incredibly sleepy after the meal so I hailed a cab and left quietly after bidding my group goodbye.

But I WANTED to do all those things I told you about.

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that adults are just children with better masks. Masks, which if removed, will result in fractured relationships and sore egos. You see, a gradual hoarding of ego is what makes us “behave” with each other as adults. I’m not advocating juvenile anarchy but I strongly feel social propriety is mostly about masking true feelings. This, to me, is one of the core reasons behind the clamor for ‘child-free’ spaces in restaurants and airplanes. Children are a nuisance because they are uninhibited and God knows, hard-working adults deserve their quiet time away from these monsters, especially if they’re paying for it.

Honestly, that is exactly what I used to think before I became a parent. It took me a while to appreciate the similarity between kids and adults. I do understand the need for quiet but adults are equally capable of being obnoxious. How about booking a ticket in first-class only to find the guy in the cabin next to you singing away loudly to a song? Or perhaps, dining at a fancy restaurant only to have the table next to you occupied by a loud joke-teller who’s ruining your meal’s mojo? It happens.

It’s just that kids are more *likely* to be a nuisance than adults. I get it.

And so with that throw of the loaded dice, I’ll go ahead and endorse “child-free” spaces, because we all deserve a peaceful environment in which to rest, recuperate, enjoy and hide.

This post was originally featured on Kiducere.


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6 responses to “Child-free Spaces”

  1. Archana says :

    Being a mother of a noisy baby (I wish they made them otherwise), I will have to agree. It would be best to have separate areas for family with kids, wannabe teenagers with fake loud laughs, the happy-birthday-party-groups, and finally, the silent oldies & business colleagues.

  2. Nimmy (@nimmypal) says :

    “I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had.” – Margaret Mead :-)

    I love and feel comfortable in the presence of people that are not embarrassed about their adult friends who behave more like children. A loud guffaw, a silly and nonsensical conversation, an expression of wonder/awe, gaping at something intriguing etc are necessary to enjoy life. :-)

  3. Anirban says :

    Nicely done.

    By the way, I go around daydreaming like in Thurber’s “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” . I once slapped a business executive in my head. Ah, to be a kid again!

    Kids are afraid of what their parents will do to them… we’re afraid of what everyone will think about us. We all have our deterrents.


    • daddysan says :

      Hahaha, kids are afraid of what their parents will do to them because the parents are afraid of what everyone will think of them. :)

      The missus has many facepalm moments because I refuse to behave like an adult at times, especially around boring people.

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