They call the birth of a child a blessed event. But at some restaurants, if parents walk in the door with a child under the age of 12, neither the staff nor the family feels blessed in the slightest.

Latest witnesses for the prosecution: a couple from Accokeek and their 15-month-old daughter.

The family moved here just a few weeks ago from Raleigh, N.C. They love to eat out, according to the mom, Caralyn M. House. So they couldn't wait to try the rich variety of restaurants in the Washington area.

But the Houses went down swinging in Old Town Alexandria. They first tried The Fish Market, a popular place down by the waterfront. The manager said the restaurant doesn't possess a high chair or a booster seat, and has no plans to acquire either because the owner "doesn't believe in them."

The Houses decided to be seated anyway. Their daughter was brought up to table level by sitting on a hastily arranged stack of napkins wrapped in a tablecloth. Elegant it wasn't. An invitation to come back it definitely wasn't.

A few days later, the Houses tried Il Porto, a fancyish Italian place very nearby. The maitre d' said the restaurant owned one high chair and one booster seat. But "he said it rudely," according to Caralyn. So the Houses went elsewhere.

"We understand children are not the quietest customers," Caralyn writes. "{But} I feel that this is a form of discrimination, to weed out certain clientele."

I'd bet my bottom dollar that you're right, Caralyn. But the managers of both Alexandria restaurants, who asked that their names be withheld, deny it.

Both acknowledged that their restaurants are not geared primarily to the family trade. The Fish Market is for young couples, and for young singles trying to achieve couplehood (define that however you like). Il Porto offers traditional four-star adult dining. Still, both managers said their establishments don't discriminate, and would cheerfully seat a child if one walked or was carried in the door.

Have there been complaints of anti-kidism at other restaurants in the Washington area, or elsewhere in the country? Ann Curtis, a spokeswoman for the National Restaurant Association, said the trend is exactly the opposite.

More and more restaurants supply high chairs and booster seats, especially at mid- and high-priced establishments, Ann said. The reason is simple economics. Many baby boomers now have at least one child. But the boomers are used to what Ann called an "eat-out lifestyle," and they don't want to abandon it after Junior comes along. Smart, flexible restaurateurs realize this.

They also realize that parents have eyes, ears, brains -- and consciences. Neither the Houses nor any other parents are going to bring a child to a nice restaurant if the kid is a dyed-in-the-wool monster. The resulting butter-hurling and water-spilling would be rough on the restaurant, and rough on the nearby diners, but twice as rough on mom and dad.

So if any restaurants still feel that kids are more trouble than they're worth, a little tolerance, please. Most moms and dads will not inflict a child who's not ready for restaurants on everyone within earshot. Trust the parents, and ye restaurateurs shall be blessed.

Chuck and Barbara Bollino, of Severna Park, became the parents of triplets in May. That's an unusual achievement in itself. But the Bollinos spread the word of their "triple delight" in unusual fashion too.

Chuck drives a route in the Maryland suburbs for United Parcel Service. Throughout the winter and early spring, he told several of his regular customers about the impending multiple birth, including my source for the triplets tip, Martha Hultzen, of Bethesda, whose husband, Christopher, is a neonatologist, and who therefore had an obvious interest in the event.

But when the two Bollino boys and one Bollino girl put in an appearance on May 7, Chuck decided that store-bought stationery wouldn't do. He announced the birth of the triplets on UPS delivery notices -- those little yellow slips you always find stuck in your screen door.

According to Barbara, Chuck left UPS slips in 29 doors along his route. "Next time he'd deliver packages, people would congratulate him," she said.

By the way, the triplets are doing fine. But Mom isn't about to do delivery notices -- or deliveries -- again.

"These are the first and the last kids," Barbara said.

Bill Budke, of Northwest Washington, defines a law firm as six people doing the work of one.

He defines a legal secretary as one person doing the work of six.