Argentina has very little, if any, of the “People With Kids Shouldn’t Take Them Anywhere Except the Toy Store and Park” syndrome the US seems to have developed. This is very much a child and family friendly place, and it is not inappropriate to bring your child out in public. Kids aren’t viewed as screaming, boogery terrors. Fernando and I have seen kids at all but the most expensive restaurants we’ve been to, and at all hours of service. We’ve taken the boys couch shopping for hours on a Saturday and every clerk spoke to them like the humans they are. It’s totally normal to see children everywhere – the subte, the busy outdoor markets, the malls and grocery stores, even tagging along behind their parents at the office when necessary – and adults treating them like the functioning beings they are.
Kids of all ages are learning how to be members of society, and there is no easy way to accomplish that if strangers give the stink eye and use hostility towards parents. Most of the children I’ve seen here are remarkably well-behaved, dare I say more-so than I remember in the States; perhaps that is a result of los niños (and their parents) being given both respect and the chances to learn appropriate public behaviors without being scorned.
In typical Argentine fashion, after a thirty minute and 55 peso cab ride to a far corner of NW Baires, we were late for our 9pm reservations at a fondue house. Our tardiness didn’t faze the server as she unlocked the door and ushered the four of us into the empty restaurant, pointing to a large table that was to be ours for the next several hours. I noticed the dim lighting and romantic table settings and became worried that this restaurant was not the right choice for the night: we had a cheese loving toddler and a chocolate fondue obsessed preteen in tow.
Dining out with children is absolutely possible in Argentina: parents don’t have to determine if a place is “kid-friendly” as most places gladly welcome kids.
The older woman behind the desk looked at the two kids as they laughed in excitement and chose their spots, her lips pressed into a warm smile. The waitress didn’t bat an eye and promptly brought out a wooden high-chair for the little guy. He looked at it dubiously and shook his head – nope, he’d rather sit in a normal chair, even if meant he couldn’t reach the pot in the middle of the table.
It was totally No Big Deal that we had brought children to a place where two pots of fondue and a bottle of wine totals 400 pesos. It didn’t matter that the table was set with delicate plates, nor that resting on top of the plates were sharp skewers perfect for stabbing tidbits of food (or eyeballs). It didn’t matter that there were multiple stemmed glasses at each spot or a clay pot of molten cheese resting precariously over a flame. Not one patron seemed bothered that there were niños.
The kids were well-behaved and seemed very welcome at the fondue house, and everyone ended up having a great time. The waitress and hostess laughed with us at the kids’ admiration, and successful use of, the nifty skewers as they sampled the dipping morsels. It turned out the littlest enano didn’t like the cheese sauce and ended up dining on bread and fruit, while the oldest was too preoccupied with visions of melted chocolate to focus on eating dinner, but that was ok. The kids’ happy, chocolatey faces made for an amazing night of fine dining with children. It was a perfect example of some of the reasons why parents should take their children out in public.