Thursday, September 9, 2010

Three for Thursday: Restaurant Tells Screaming Kids to Get Out, Showtime's Dysfunctional Moms & Sports Parents Crying Uncle

Item #1: Restaurant Tells Screaming Kids to Get Out

A North Carolina restaurant owner has sparked a hearty dialog online by posting this simple sign in its front window, “Screaming children will not be tolerated.”

A Babble blogger called the "no screaming kids" policy a “total joke,” writing: “I don’t condone bad behavior in public, but we all know even the most well-behaved children are sometimes more boisterous than we’d like them to be. That doesn’t mean families should be forced to stay home.”

A writer on Slate said while she doesn’t tolerate “screaming by my children at home, let alone in public,” she thinks the sign is overly hostile: “It’s an admonishment, an advance assumption that those children will scream. It creates an immediate atmosphere of hostility toward families, and it is, in itself, rude.”

In her defense, restaurant owner Brenda Armes told her local TV station that she wants to give her customers a pleasant dining experience saying, “We want to attract the type of people that come in knowing they aren’t going to have to sit behind a table with a bunch of screaming children.”

In the TV interview, Armes added that she just wants parents to take their children outside if the kids start to scream. The sign notwithstanding, that’s not an unreasonable policy . . . speaking as someone who has, in the past, hastily asked the waiter to pack up my food in a To Go bag while I hustled my screaming toddlers out to the car and The Spouse paid the bill.

Do you think the restaurant owner went overboard or is sending a negative message to parents?

Item #2: Showtime's Dysfunctional Moms

Back in March, The Wall Street Journal ran a feature story saying that Showtime was planning to build on the success of their pot-dealing suburban mom show Weeds and was promoting more shows featuring strong, dysfunctional female characters.

From Weeds’ Nancy Botwin, who has taken her children on the run along with her former brother-in-law, and Nurse Jackie’s unfaithful, drug-addicted nurse married mom of two, to The Big C’s married high school teacher mom whose cancer diagnosis (which she’s kept secret from her family) has caused her to upend her life, Showtime is really delivering on the dysfunctional mom front, a subject to which I dedicated my recent pop culture column.

Item #3: Sports Parents Crying Uncle

And I thought I was the only one who feels overwhelmed by the intensity and time suck that has become youth sports. Just this Saturday, my three kids have four games in four different towns, starting at a pre-dawn hour, with the last one occurring smack dab in the middle of dinner hour. The whole day will feature The Spouse and I racing around to four different places for soccer and hockey games. (My 9-year-old son has TWO games on Saturday in different locations.) I've already informed my daughter's coach that The Girl will miss her Sunday afternoon soccer practice because we’re going to be belatedly celebrating Rosh Hashanah with family -- heresy, I know -- however we have arranged for The Youngest Boy to get transportation to and from his soccer practice Sunday morning while The Spouse and I are preparing for our big family celebration (for which we're missing church, FYI, because Saturday was so packed).

This schedule makes me crazy because I oftentimes feel like sports can take over family life, even when I limit each child to one sport per season and don't go to "extra" tournaments and competitions. Well the local CBS station here in Boston just featured a mom of three who decided she’d had enough of her sons’ insane sports schedules and is taking their participation down a notch.

In the segment – link here – the mom talked about the scheduling nightmare that is having three children play sports at far-flung locations and the negative fallout she has received from her parenting peers when they learned that she pulled her kids off of travel teams and stopped making a year-long commitment to specific sports. She just reduced their involvement, not eliminating it altogether, mind you.

“Experts in youth sports have found a lot of youth burnout among over-scheduled child-athletes, and now there is burnout among parents as well,” WBZ reporter Paula Ebben wrote on her blog.

As the new fall sports seasons commence, what do you think about this issue? Can sports – particularly when it comes to travel teams – spiral out of control? How do you handle it?

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