Recently, several news media outlets picked up on a story out of London England which described a scenario in which a mother was charged a ‘child tax’ on her bill. Two mothers in two separate instances were charged an extra 3 pounds, or 5 dollars, because they had children in tow who were not ordering from the menu. One child was 6 weeks old and the other was 6 months old. Both were exclusively breast fed. Turns out the employees at the restaurant who added the tax did so in error. The restaurant does reserve the right to enforce their ‘Minimum Charge Policy’ which “is intended for toddlers who eat but not as much as a child. It was and never will be intended as a charge for Prams or for babies”. The restaurant issued a formal apology on its website and that was that. Case closed, ya? Far from it.
News outlets ranging from CBC to Breakfast Television are debating this issue. The big question? Should parents be allowed to take up space with their “spittle-strewn bundles of joy”? Should parents have to pay for the space the stroller is occupying? I’ve never heard anyone ask that about an elderly person’s walker. What about a Seeing Eye dog? For that matter, what about a wheelchair?
There are plenty of places which cater to the stroller and its occupant; toy stores, drop in parent centres, and of course, McDonalds, to name a few. The thing is those places are all for the child; places mom can take baby where everything will be for the baby. But what about the mom? The good news is the tides are changing. Mom and Tot activities are beginning to be available because of the recognition that mom still wants to maintain some semblance of a life. Raising a child with all of the modern accoutrements is an expensive enough endeavor without having to pay a ‘tax’ just to bring your child/stroller into an establishment. To me that’s just prejudice plain and simple.
As for myself I will continue to apologize in the restaurants, the sidewalks, the streetcars. I’m gracious that way. Most moms are I think. Would I ever pay extra just to enter a restaurant with my kid? Never. I’ll hand my hard earned money over to the establishment that welcomes me, not the one who merely tolerates me.