There’s one thing China’s got right — they have dedicated children’s areas in restaurants. Maybe it’s because of the adoration Chinese have toward their children, or perhaps it’s due to the genuine enjoyment of large gatherings over a festive meal. Whatever the reason, the Chinese certainly realize that children easily become bored and fidgety if forced to sit through a long meal with nothing but grown-up talk going on around them.
Enter the separated kids areas — some small and simple; others large and quite grand. There might be a television with cartoons showing, toys, or paper and crayons. Sometimes there is a separate food buffet or climbing structures. More often than not, the area is separated by a low wall or even clear Plexiglas so that the kids can be seen, but not as well heard. They get to enjoy play time while waiting for dinner or for lingering adults; grown-ups are able to enjoy a more relaxed dining experience all around.
My kids have enjoyed this designated space since we moved here when they were 4 and 6-years old. They loved it. We loved it. Unfortunately, we all have to re-train when we go back to our homeland for vacation. I can’t think of a single restaurant back home that has a safe-yet-secluded children’s area where I would comfortably send my kids to play. Instead, they sit at the table with everyone else and maybe color or play with whatever I put into my purse.
Don’t get me wrong. I want my children to have proper table and dining manners so they know how to act appropriately. And I think they get that. But it sure would be nice not to have to worry about how what they’ve gotten used to in restaurants isn’t accepted everywhere. Nor do I really want any disapproving looks from family and friends when they are with us.
I do think China’s got it right on this one, and I’m ever so appreciative that they do.