The Column with Simone B. Michielen: Children, burden or joy?


To make it clear, I love children. Babies, toddlers, teenagers, you name it and I will love and take care of them.

I also totally understand parents who are surrounded by diapers, toys and a conversation that stops at a child’s level. Despite the hormones that make you blinded by love and your judgement a little bit coloured (to say the least), it seems normal that you want to be your old charming self again and dress up and go out for a nice lunch or dinner. Bringing your little ones, trusting they will enjoy your choice as much as you do. They don’t. I know, because I am the one at the other table, with my partner, friend or client.

Last week I went for a culinary lunch in one of my favourite restaurants. I still had a voucher which I bought during our lock-down. I was looking forward to enjoy a peaceful 6-course degustation menu on one of the most beautiful terraces in my part of Slovenia. They were preparing for a wedding that afternoon, but that didn’t bother at all. Service was perfect, as always, and the food delicious. Did I mention peaceful? It was, until… a young boy couldn’t deal with his chair anymore. It was time for action! For him that meant running around the terrace, crossing the set up for the band and being chased by an adult from the same table. First reaction? I was surprised and expected that the person chasing would stop him. She didn’t. They went on and on, at the table where he came from nobody seemed to notice, the staff did, but I think they didn’t want to offend their guests. At the point it became so distracting that I didn’t know what I was eating anymore, I said something and it stopped. The people at the table next to us thanked me.

Isn’t it odd? I totally understand the boy. Sitting at a table, the people around you are talking just to each other and clearly there is nothing exciting to do, how long can you take that? So parents, this is the point where I really want to ask you to do him (and us, other guests) a big favour. Realise that your children are maybe not ready for some locations or activities that you love to go to. Give them a break and let them stay at home with a babysitter, or chose your destination or menu for a lunch or dinner with them in mind and don’t make it last longer than one hour. Maybe chose a restaurant that has playing facilities. Your time will come again, I promise.

Friends of mine went to a wedding lately. The bride and groom were so brave to put in their invitation that children were not welcome. I think they should have that choice. Children are cute, but also very dominant and real game changers. In tourism, “adults only” destinations are more and more popular, also by parents. I think I don’t have to tell you why. By the way, I was happily babysitting during the wedding party, a win-win situation!

As said, I love children, also yours. But not running around my table, interrupting a conversation or screaming because they had enough. So practise at home, and bring them when they are old enough and know how to behave. You may think your children are the center of the universe, but for others they are simply not.