My Thoughts on the Elk River Arby’s Controversy
There's a story going viral about the Arby's in Elk River posting a warning to parents of unruly children. The sign basically threatens to remove children who can't keep food on their trays or their "bottoms in their seats."
The manager of that location was disciplined and some people are outraged while others are praising the chain for dealing with the issue. Listen, if you're a parent, it's your obligation to teach your children how to behave in public. You can't just let your kids do whatever they want because it's easier than parenting. This is probably why the manager felt compelled to take action.
With that being said, sometimes teachable moments happen in public.
I'm the parent of a two-year-old and I understand feeling like you can't go anywhere because your child doesn't totally understand how to behave in public yet. Ask any parent who has a two-year-old how easy it is, and they'll tell you it isn't.
Sometimes my toddler screams at the top of his lungs in the middle of the grocery store. It's my job to teach him that it's not OK.
There was one mortifying instance that I'll never forget when he was about 18 months old. We were sitting in a booth at Texas Roadhouse. He launched a ketchup covered chicken nugget into the air and it ended up hitting this poor woman's white jacked sitting in the booth next to us. HER WHITE COAT HAD RED KETCHUP ON IT because of MY child. My husband and I had no clue he could throw things until that moment. It was utterly embarrassing and we felt awful. The lady handled the situation with grace and understanding. But, we were mortified to say the least.
For a few weeks after the ordeal we were both afraid to take him anywhere. We had real conversations about keeping him home until he was at least out of his terrible twos. Quickly, we realized how ridiculous and silly that sounded.
He's a little person who is learning how to be a little person. How can you teach him how to behave in public if he's never allowed to be in public? So, my husband and I changed our philosophy. Now, we take our son pretty much wherever we go. He's my grocery store buddy, he's our date at dinner and he's my little mall rat. He loves going to sporting events with us and truly learning how to be part of the community.
Sure, sometimes he wants to get out of his seat and walk around the restaurant and explore...he's two and that's just what two year olds want to do. Sometimes he ends up with more food on his shirt and in his hair than in his belly...he's a toddler.
Why did I share that with you? Because, I don't think the message in the Arby's window was aimed at kids like my toddler or parents like me. At least, I really hope not. I think there are other issues that had been going on at the restaurant and the manager didn't know how else to take action. I think the sign was poorly worded, but intended for kids older and naughtier than mine. It probably shouldn't have been posted to the general public with zero context and instead dealt with on a case by case basis.
Does the manager deserve to be fired or disciplined over it? I'm not sure. You can make the argument for both sides...but, I do know I've sure been in situations where I felt like putting up my own sign like this and telling people to parent their kids better.