Baby, Shut Up

There has been recently a great media frenzy about a female diner owner, who yelled at a kid of her clients’ in order to make it shut up. Supposedly, the kid was acting up for 40 minutes and the parents didn’t care at all. The story became famous and there immediately emerged two opposing camps, each commenting on the incident differently. It was some time ago that someone working in gastronomy here told me: “Be careful of two things: how you treat your clients’ pets and kids; New Yorkers are oversensitive about both”. The incident I referred to didn’t take place in New York, but I am sure its effect here would have been the same (if not greater).

My recent mantra is: „I don’t have a problem with the kids, but with their parents”. For the fact is, it wasn’t the diner owner who was to blame or the kid, but the parents who didn’t do anything to alleviate the situation. If you can’t control your kid, then maybe you should wait for it to grow up a bit before you take it to a restaurant…? Once, I witnessed a kid wailing for five minutes, with the dad standing beside and just looking at it. I gave him a pleading look at some point, to which he responded: “He’s crying ‘cause his mom’s not here”. I was this close to responding: “And where’s his dad’s?”, but I bit my tongue. I can understand much: that “it’s just a  kid”, it’s “feeling bad”, it’s “so hungry”, etc. But still, it’s the parents’ job to make sure the kid is not spoiling the time of a bunch of people who came to a restaurant to have a good time and are actually paying for the privilege. If my observations are correct, parents often treat a restaurant as if it were a playground designed for them to have “some time off”. The kids are running between the tables, jump on couches, spill pepper, and salt out of shakers – and the parents just sit there and have a chat, as it nothing at all was happening. I say: if you crave a moment of quiet, pay a babysitter and go have dinner, just the two of you. This will make sure that both you and other guests will have a good time. Just a couple of days ago I saw a mother who actually changed her baby’s diapers on the very table she just finished having her meal on. There was a restroom at that place with a diaper-changing station, but I guess it was just too far away for that lady to bother.

Did the diner lady overreact? Maybe so, but since I cannot stand a few minutes of a baby wailing next to me, I am stunned that this woman took 40 long minutes of that. Had it been me, I would have picked up the baby and taken it outside. Imagine the media storm that would cause!