I was recently sent a link to the Sydney Morning Herald story about a fracas in a cafe involving the parents of a ‘problem child’ and the peace of other patrons by one of my readers……
Firstly, I was a little bit chuffed. I loved that HE (yes, one of my two non-related-by-blood (to me, not each other) male readers – high five, dude!) thought of me when he read this, but secondly, he was interested to hear what I thought. Just to get you up to speed before I mouth off with my opinion, it went a little something like this.
In a nutshell, this couple, one of whom is the writer of the piece, were trying to enjoy their brunch at a busy cafe when a child at a nearby table started shrieking, not crying or whinging, but shrieking with a ‘piercing, shrill cry that sounded like the child was in pain’.
It continued for a bit and some people left, then it stopped for a bit (presumably when the babycino arrived), then it started worse than before(afore mentioned babycino finished) and continued for ten minutes before the writer’s husband went up to them and suggested they take the child for a walk.
Nastiness ensued, blah, blah, blah, the F word was slung and the bird was flipped. Cafe staff said they’ve had trouble with this particular family before and the child is a ‘problem child’.
Now…..what do I think?
Hmmmmmmm, before I had kids I would have been all ‘hell yeah, shut that freakin’ kid up, yo’ (Breaking Bad has a lot to answer for), but since having kids I’m much more tolerant. I’ve been on both sides of the coin and when the lady glared at me at Fratelli Fresh whilst I was trying to bolt down my pasta and glass of medicinal vino and the two babes at our table, whilst not crying, were definitely not being seen but not heard, I may, or may not, have told her to schmuck off, or something to that effect.
That said, I do think, in a crowded cafe, you have a responsibility to other patrons. Hence my discomfort in that situation. Although I do feel parent’s are absolutely entitled to eat out too, you really shouldn’t do it at the expense of everyone else’s experience.
Cafes are a bit of a nightmare with kids, every parent enters at their own peril, so if it all goes pear shaped, I get embarrassed and high tail it with my skinny latte -one sugar- in a go cup if need be. I get annoyed at my own kids chucking a wobbly, so yes, I do find other people’s misbehaving kids annoying. I think it’s our duty, as parents, to keep our families nice in public as much as possible……not always doable, of course, but something we should aspire to.
The part that kind of makes my alarm bells ring (Danger, Danger Will Robinson!!) is the ‘problem child’ part. It’s a fairly ambiguous thing to say, but if you had a go at someone with a disabled child because they were disturbing your eggs benedict, you do look like a bit of a douche.
It is a basic parental right to have access to coffee, and I imagine if your child had special needs, this is more valid than ever.
So, let’s take this situation away from the parenting vibe for a second and discuss a different kind of disturbance….If a couple had a loud argument would I suggest they go for a walk?
We saw recently when that poor French woman was verbally attacked in a racial slur on the Melbourne bus and NO ONE came to her defence that people, in general, do not intervene in altercations, so why do we see fit to criticise others’ parenting?
I guess I’m sitting on the fence here. I probably wouldn’t have said anything and bitched about it the whole day, so I really can’t blame the dude for taking the bull by the horns. As for the parents, they probably should have eaten their breakfast in shifts whilst the other distracted the kid outside. Not relaxing, but it doesn’t sound like they were having a particularly relaxing time as it stands.
Long story short, enter cafes at your own risk, and try to keep your kids nice, or get it in a go cup.
What do you think? Would you have said anything or let it slide?