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Good-Kid Discounts: Coming to a Restaurant Near You, Maybe

Should restaurants offer financial incentives to keep kids well-behaved?

by Kelcey Kintner

One restaurant has figured out a way to handle rowdy, out-of-control kids: offer their parents a discount to keep their children quiet.

Antonio Ferrari, owner of a wine bar in Italy, had tired of children running around his restaurant getting in the way of servers and being a nuisance to other customers.

Then one day, he observed a particularly well-behaved family dining with five kids. He gave the party a 5 percent polite children discount and has been doing it ever since. And apparently, it's working to keep things more under control during his busy weekend lunch hours.

Now, I often dine out with my five kids. I would love a discount. But it's never going to happen for me.

More: The Craziest Moments of Parenting a Preschooler

I'm sorry to tell you this (and please don't read it if you're eating) but my 3-year-old son has, on two separate occasions while dining out, thrown up. Not because he had the stomach bug or anything  — because he got so crazy jumping up and down and was jamming so much food in his mouth.

He's also very social at restaurants. So even back when I would put him in a high chair, he would constantly climb out so he could socialize with other patrons. Which other patrons you may wonder? All other patrons. Yup. That was him you saw climbing over booths to get to people. Just to say hi. Mamma mia.

I can already hear Italian wine bar owner Antonio Ferrari yelling, "No discount for those Americans!" However you say that in Italian. And I wouldn't blame him.

I agree that it's up to parents to keep their kids under control. If your baby is screaming, take them out of the restaurant. If your child just spilled water everywhere, clean up the mess. If you have an unusually spirited, social toddler, maybe stick to the loud sports bars where no one cares much anyway.

I guess it's a good idea in theory to give parents a little financial incentive to keep a close eye on their kids — although it does feel a bit judgmental. Maybe that's just me: the person holding down one kid while the other four are running around.

More: Taking kids to fancy restaurants is just asking for trouble

And I refuse to pull out the smartphones to create silent zombie-children. My kids need to try to be patient, have conversations and doodle on their paper napkins until the food or check arrives. This does mean that from time to time, a child or two may have gotten a bit rambunctious.

I probably will never get a discount for quiet, docile children. In fact, I pay a little more. I leave a great tip.

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