Via the Bucks blog and The Consumerist comes a story of a restaurant that rewarded a family with a discount for “well-behaved kids” printed right there on the receipt.

The story, initially told in a reddit post that began with a photo of the receipt and was later explained by the mother in the family, went like this:

“My family (me, husband, 2-year-old, 3-year-old and 8-year- old) went out to dinner Friday evening at a small restaurant in Poulsbo, Wash. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner sans crayons, iPods, and other toys. We appreciate conversing with one another over dinner and always use our dinners out to catch up and do just that.

“I worked in the restaurant industry prior to having kids and so have high expectations of my children when we are out to eat. We never arrive starving and always tip well. I encourage all parents to take their kids out to eat so they know how to do so. This kind of reward was not expected and probably not something they do regularly.

“Frankly, it is not the kind of restaurant you often see young children at. Our server visited our table toward the end of our dinner and remarked at how the entire serving staff hadn’t even noticed there were young children at our table. They brought us a bowl of ice cream to share and we saw this little nugget of goodness on our tab at the end of our meal.”

The question of the day, on reddit and Bucks and elsewhere, is this: Would a universal “well-behaved kid” discount encourage more parents to properly train their little terrors, thus protecting the dining, flying and just general existing-in-public experience of all of the people out there who are a) much better parents; b) not yet parents and convinced that they will be much better parents someday; c) happily not-parents by choice and yet still certain that if they were parents, their children would be seen but not heard; and d) parents of adult and older children who have completely forgotten about that time back in the ’70s before it was illegal when they took their misbehaving child and locked her in the car in the parking lot until the end of the meal.

You will have probably gathered from the tone of the above paragraph that I am a little bored by this whole “debate.” I am bored by airlines proposing “child-free zones” or, like AirAsia X, making them a reality on long-haul flights — to allow “our guests to have a more pleasant and peaceful journey with minimal noise and less disturbance.”

I am bored by the litany of complaints lodged against parents of young children by those in groups a, b, c and d, defined above, in general.

Life brings with it a certain amount of disturbance. We can comment on those negligent, pandering, just plain “bad” parents who let their children run wild, sipping their wine and saying “oh, they’re so cute” as the filthy urchins stampede through restaurants, airplanes and life screaming their heads off and kicking people in the shin before they run off to stuff their faces with junk food while playing video games.

Or we can take a deep breath and remember that the vast majority of parents we see daily are really doing the best they can.

The “well-behaved kids” discount is cute. Why not? One of those children was 2 years old, and a well-behaved 2-year-old should score her parents at least a smile of appreciation, since we all know that (whatever the child’s mother may say) that 2-year-old probably has had her moments of being less-than-charming in public, too.

If the staff can get approval for putting a discount on the receipt, sounds good to me. Should we implement it nationwide, with grand promotions at the local Applebee’s? No.

Should we, instead, rant and rave about how all parents should be expected to raise their children to behave courteously in public and this is all just a sign of the coming entitled-children-zombie-apocalypse? Sure, if it makes you feel better — but you’re either singing to the choir, or singing to the tone-deaf.

And while you’re at it, you’re perpetuating both the myth of the ill-behaved American child and the sense that every parent is in it alone, struggling to supply the rest of us with a model member of the next generation of productive adults who know how to behave in a restaurant.

Neither is likely to do much to help the parent whose child, for whatever reason, isn’t qualifying for the well-behaved kid discount today. Somewhere out there, I’ll bet there’s a sympathetic server who’d be just as happy to offer a “tough day” discount — while she wraps up a meal to go.

Contact KJ Dell-Antonia at:

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