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Column: Different times, different measures

Posted: September 2, 2018 2:14 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2018 1:00 a.m.

I hate to admit to spending time on the internet, but what can I say -- I surf, happily and mindlessly, just like everyone else.

To say something like, “I only use the internet for research,” is sort of the modern incarnation of such past statements as, “I only watch ETV,” and “I only read Playboy for the articles.”

Oh, sure; I suppose I go online with some initial purpose, but it doesn’t take too long to find myself punching whatever random thoughts I have into Google and seeing what comes up, only to have those results trigger more random thoughts, which lead to more searches, and so on and so forth and “wow -- it’s 2 a.m.! How’d that happen?”

At any rate, while I was online the other night, I read an article about a restaurant in Germany (this started from researching the cost of a cruise down the Danube River) that recently banned children under 14 years old from the premises after 5 p.m.

Of course, the action sparked a little outrage -- what doesn’t, these days -- but it garnered far more support.

Hey, it certainly has my support.

To be sure, this is not the first restaurant to do this -- I’ve seen several, right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., do the same thing, with largely the same results. But what is especially gratifying and validating is the fact that pretty much every single one of these places experienced a significant increase in business. This happened at a crab shack up in Maryland a couple of years ago as well as an expensive Italian restaurant in North Carolina. All of them enacted such a policy. All of them experienced a little blowback. And all of them subsequently saw not just an uptick, but a boom, in business.

The German restaurateur, like most reasonable people, does not blame the children -- he blames the self-centered, over-indulgent, heads-up-their-backsides parents who refuse to correct their children’s obnoxious behaviors, and who take illogical, undeserved and idiotic umbrage when asked to do so.

So do I.

To be sure, I do remember my parents forcing us to go to the occasional fru fru dining establishment. Naturally, at the time, I didn’t realize the experience was probably just as tortuous for them as for me.

But, that’s because my parents expected -- nay, demanded -- that we be on good behavior. That meant, for their part, they would be ever-vigilant for any transgressions in decorum, which therefore meant that, whatever else they were doing, they probably weren’t enjoying a relaxing evening out on the town.

I can still remember acting out in some fancy, white napkin joint -- I can’t remember where now. What I remember, however, is the moment my dad had enough. All he had to do was give me “the look,” followed by a quiet, but menacing three-word declaration: “You’re in trouble.”

The behavior would stop, but punishment would still be forthcoming. The difference is, had the behavior continued, the punishment would have been exponentially worse.

Therein probably is the difference. When my folks told me -- now follow this closely -- I was in trouble, I knew I was in trouble. We weren’t  going to have a conversation. I wasn’t going to receive “consequences” for my actions; my butt was Bermuda, as it were, and they were Col. and Mrs. John Deere.

My take is that too many parents these days make noises about “consequences,” but in the end, such may be as serious as a 5-minute time out from the cell phone, And yeah, before I have a battalion of marching morons in the driveway, allow me to say you’re right; it’s none of my business how you raise your kids. If you choose to believe they are actually short adults capable of self discipline and rational decisions, then best of luck to you.

Just do the rest of us a favor and keep such social experiments like that at home.


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