Well said, Myles!Maybe we're rarities, but we end up bringing Bodhi to restaurants in the $40/plate range pretty frequently, as that's fairly normal cost here in SF and along the coast. He's usually welcomed with a Kid's Menu and owners that go out of their way to greet him, accommodate us and make a buffer between us and guests without kids. We do use Yelp to find places that are kid-friendly, though. If Bodhi were misbehaving, we'd remedy it by either pulling him outside or distracting him with a toy or book. My expectations of his behavior don't have anything to do with what my tab is going to be at the end of the night. Whether we're eating at a cheap lunch counter or at a 5-star, we're conscientious of the people around us.
That said, I don't believe it's an immediate social faux-pas to walk into a pricey restaurant with a kid just because the child might act up. It seems like the expectation from some is that, due to kids' volatile natures, parents should not bring small children into high-end establishments EVER. (And there's the perrennial debate over whether toddlers should be allowed to fly in first class.) I am a paying customer, and for all intents and purposes, Bodhi is too. So as long an establishment will take a parent's business - not ban it with a sign at the door saying "no children allowed" - then my expectation is that they cater to me and everyone in my party. If people expect a child-free zone, they should patronize establishments that expressly forbid children. If Bodhi shouts during his meal - because as a 3 yr old, he just may, I'll take him out, but I don't appreciate dirty looks from other patrons on my way out the door, as they chose to eat at a place that allows children, kwim?
L, that Lord of the Flies/Ring story made me smile....much better to be a hobbit than a wild boy!