Matt Heath: Akaroa bistro ban of kids a bit mean spirited

Publish Date
Monday, 14 May 2018, 10:12AM
NZ Herald

NZ Herald

What about that Akaroa bistro owner who's banned children? Obviously he can refuse whoever he wants.

I've been rightfully kicked out of lots of South Island establishments in my time. You can't go complaining about it.

But for me, whether he's in the right or wrong legally isn't the point. Banning little people just seems a bit mean spirited. A little bit inhuman.

It's true that children under 10 are sometimes inconvenient. But we were all kids once.

The vast majority of us will become parents at some point in our lives. Having kids is pretty much the point of us. If you're lucky enough to have children you're part of something huge.

Billions of years of evolution from the first self-replicating molecules, to fish-like things, to reptile-like things, to mouse-like things and more recently ape-like ancestors. There have been kids running around this planet for a very long time.

If just one of your millions of ancient forefathers hadn't had kids you wouldn't exist. You owe every second you have on this planet to those ancient mums and dads and the humans near them who put up with children running about.

After all that, shutting kids out of your place seems ungrateful on an epic 3.8 billion year scale.

The bistro owner says the ban is for the safety of adults. Apparently a waitress walked into a child while carrying glasses and hurt herself.

Normally full-grown adults are tough enough to survive a few children. But maybe this place is very tiny. Maybe you can't see your feet. Maybe the full-grown adults do need protection from under-10s.

As I say, owners can ban whoever they want. If you don't like it go somewhere else.

For me it's not the owners but the customers who don't like kids about that I worry about. The eye rollers.

Everyone knows someone who gets upset about children running around. Yet in a decent normal-sized establishment what's the harm in kids being kids?

Is it the noise? Inconvenience getting to the counter? The back of a chair being brushed by someone small?

If that's what you are worried about. Harden up. It's hardly Passchendaele. Tell the men who built the Raurimu Spiral that kids in a bistro is too much for you. Our ancestors had to fight a mammoth to get dinner. Then fight a sabre tooth tiger to keep it.

Yet some people can't even handle little kids in a cafe. The laughter, the energy, it's all too much for them. Soft.

Often it's the parents of children that people are actually annoyed at. They scowl and think to themselves "She's not raising her children right".

Time might be better spent directing questions inward. When did I become an eye-rolling tutter? When did I stop liking other humans?

My little boys are super polite. They sit up at the table. They don't play with the sugar, salt and pepper, don't mix up stupid drinks, don't lean back on their chairs, don't run around. They use their knives and forks properly with pointed index fingers. Never eat with their mouths open or rest their elbows on the table. They place their cutlery together when finished. Say please and thank you.

We instilled these rules into them with brute military force from before they could speak. They cause no eye rolling in cafes or restaurants. We often get compliments such as "What wonderfully well-behaved children you have".

In retrospect I should have let them run wild. Sent them out to actively torture the table-dwelling haters of humanity. Unleashed them into small bistros just for fun. Had them "get in the way". Because why the hell shouldn't little humans run around big ones? What's the big deal?

We are all in this great species together. Surely life is better with the laughter, noise and energy of our little ones.

If you find yourself hating the small humans who come near you, maybe you have lost some of your humanity over the years. You may have become a Black Adder-like "sourpuss grumpy face". As Herbs sang in Sensitive to a Smile "Beautiful children have come into my life. Beautiful people, oh young and bright. Beautiful children, longing for life."

Good people smile at children, stink people scowl.

This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.