He rushed toward me looking more like a dressed up nightclub kid than a sales associate in the store of a day spa. “You have to keep them really quiet because there are treatments going on in the back,” he told me.
Already I felt a bit of the anxiety and shame of having my kids shushed in public. Somehow, I hoped, they’d still get into college. Besides, this guy was only trying to do his job.
I trotted ahead of the club-kid to where my girls where clattering after my mother. I’d been drawn in by the all organic mother and baby products on sale in the front room, the “store” of Mirabella Mansori Day Spa. But their grandma had headed back closer to the treatment rooms and I hurried to tell them to use very quiet voices.
Then I turned to answer a question from my mom, and when I looked back, my children had vanished and reappeared over by the gleaming bowls of snacks set out even closer to the treatment rooms. Why!
A woman came out of one of the rooms and offered to "help" them as they dug into the snackbowls. I was right behind the girls, nearly out of breath, and she immediately let me know how important it was to keep them quiet. “Yep, right, I know thanks,” I said as I hurried to get them back out to the front door.
Then my four-year-old got bumped and splashed with her cup of water, began to wail because it had been that kind of day, and, yes, instantly we were rushed upon by both the kid, and the woman, and reminded: there are treatments in progress!
Ooooh, that would make a good sign. I can even see it up, say, out by the baby products luring in moms with small kids at the front. That way no one has to be told once, much less, three times, to keep their children quiet. Throw another sign up at the back by the rooms and I’d say, you’ve got yourself a winning idea.
This is what I tried to tell the owner of the salon when I called that afternoon and left a respectful message on her voicemail to please call me back. Alas, she never did.
Last week a Pennsylvania man was in the news for enacting a “no kids under six” policy at his restaurant. I can only hope he will think to put up a sign and that it will be large and, even polite.
In the hopes of saving the rest of you from encounters like my Mirabella Massacre, here are some tips on local businesses that are kid-friendly. Its what you should know before you go:
- is our favorite kid dining experience all around. There's a very wide menu and a super-charged atmosphere. Inside, a raucous jukebox rivals bright and in your face decor—there’s no way anyone’s hearing a baby cry in there. Outside tables on the “Doggy Deck” are a perfect spot to sit if you want to watch your kids in the parking lot down below while they hula hoop (don’t worry, no one dares to park there.) This place is old Cardiff local-style fun.
-If you want a higher end experience, the Italian sisters who own , love kids and always offer to whip us up “what the babies eat in Italy.” This is pasta, of course, in butter and a pureed broccoli sauce and my little ones love it.
-kids also enjoy the weekend opera at and the crayons and kids meals at California Pizza Kitchen.
-has the open, chatty atmosphere, and fun seaside vibe that are a shoe-in for families. In tourist season to get in without a wait, try going early — that shouldn’t be a problem if you children are small like mine.
-All the burrito joints around are relaxed enough for even the crankiest of families. If you don’t mind chains, Rubio's has some healthy fare like whole-wheat tortillas and a great kids menu that comes with crayons, the fish tank there is also a big hit.
-Beach Grass Café is a very family friendly place: they provide a children's menu with crayons and servers who seem to genuinely like kids. Warning: the place is next door to Mirabella Mansori Day Spa so you know, if you go in, there are treatments in progress!
- has so much for the health minded family on both the kids' and regular menus and is really good! Ocean views and big open rooms don’t hurt either.
-in the Lumberyard has a pretty small kid's menu and the unreal looking pastries in line to order that will either hold your child captive long enough for you to finish a sentence or give rise to demands for cake that drown out the rest of your day. But once you order, the outside seating with a fountain where little ones congregate, makes waiting for the food downright relaxing (bring a change of clothes if you have a little mermaid on your hands).
I wish more stores would realize that if they’re kid tolerant and even have some toys in a corner, you may actually get a chance to spend money there. Of course, I also get that it’s a parent’s responsibility to watch their own children and I usually don’t even go shopping for myself with my young kids in tow.
Much of family-friendly retail is luck of the draw in terms of the personality of the clerk working at the time you show up. They may be a recent grandma wanting to get their hands on your beautiful baby, or a young twenty-something who looks at your kids like they’re from another planet.
Of course most baby stores have a play table and are patient with little ones’ roving hands.
- is unparalleled in their love of kids and the ways they play.
- also has a great train table and a new moms chair complete with nursing pillow.
-Patagonia Cardiff and their hip toy corner is a favorite hangout for both my little girls and their surfer dad. They truly love kids there.
-Across the street from Patagonia is the Green Flash Art Gallery where all of the , and events are very family friendly, and usually incorporate kids’ items and a play area. Last Saturday afternoon, July 23, they began hosting once a week children’s art class for four to twelve-year-olds with professional artist Susan Wickstrand. We did the first one, a hands-on collage workshop, where my child’s final piece was waxed by the artist in encaustic and will be in a kids’ art show later this year. She really enjoyed it.
- : Once, while shopping at Lacy’s, the nice lady who works there offered to hold my baby while I tried clothes on and figured out what size I was since the latest “event” my body had undergone. This clever woman was rewarded with many sales in my new size and a new loyal shopper.
-There’s also a kids' play station at of Encinitas.
Please let me know if you have other suggestions, I’d love to make this list a regular occurance, with new information as it comes in.
Until then, happy getting-out, Encinitas!