Monday, February 23, 2009

We Are Not Your Babysitter

Here is my personal message to bored, stay-at-home moms desperate for coffee and adult interaction: If you want to enjoy food, drink and conversation while someone else watches your children, I suggest you either hire a babysitter or meet your peeps for coffee and Egg McMuffies at Ronnie Mac’s. Let the tots boogie off to the Playland while you catch up with the girls.

DO NOT bring them to my restaurant and let them run all over the place, bother the other guests, play with the curtains, dump the salt and pepper shakers, run their radio-controlled toys down the aisle, or lock themselves in the bathroom for twenty minutes and play with the water.

What is the problem with thirty-something suburban mommy-types these days? Where do they get the idea that the staff and other patrons at any restaurant will be happy to provide day care while the mommies enjoy their coffee and chat?

The Hot Flash Café does not discourage folks from bringing their well-behaved offspring in for a meal. We have a kids’ menu…we have a little corral of high chairs. And we serve ice cream (12 varieties—cones, dishes, milkshakes, sundaes) for god’s sake. But we DO expect parents to be familiar with their own kids’ attention spans and ability to stay at their table while the adults eat and visit. We don’t provide coloring books or activities to keep kids busy. We don’t have a book corner or a play area where bored children can hang out while their parents visit. In our 1000 square foot dining room, we don’t have room for those things. We DO expect adults to take responsibility for controlling and entertaining their own little tax exemptions.

Last Friday morning, a young woman—probably about 30-ish, came in to the café with her two children. Her son was probably about two. Largely non-verbal, but definitely able to get around on his own two feet. Fast as lightning.

The minute they walked in the door, the little boy started pulling on the lighted garland I had festooned on the front of the counter. Just before he yanked it to the floor, Little Yuppie Mom admonished him wryly, “How about if we don’t tear the place down? Heh-heh…” Whereupon he made a beeline for the nearest unoccupied table and immediately grabbed a glass candlestick. I gently relieved him of that object as Mom stood at the front counter, attention focused on her choices of coffees and pastries. Kid joined mom again for a hot second, and she shoveled a cookie into his hand (ooohhh….more sugar! That should prove helpful… )

The child, clutching his prize, moved on to the door. Thinking it was too heavy for him to actually open, I nevertheless deduced he was capable of opening the door partway and getting his fingers caught in it. I was half out of my chair to rescue him from that fate, when pop! he was outside and heading down the sidewalk. The street is about ten feet outside our door. I could hardly watch…

Unruffled, Little Yuppie Mom slipped out the door and returned with kid and cookie slung over her shoulder, her lips curved upward in a passive smile.

I, on the other hand, would have popped a Xanax if I was in to that kind of thing. Actually, I wanted to call the police and report a case of blatant child endangerment.

Please, people...



Kathy said...

Couldn't agree with you more ... and here's a twist on the theme. Out to dinner about a year ago with my SIL and her daughter and grandson. SIL sat with him and allowed, well, actually GAVE him the sugar packets to play with. He promptly tossed them about, dropped them to the floor and tore open a few. When her daughter came back from the restroom and spoke to him and started to clean up ... I kid you not, SIL said, "they are only sugar packets and they're keeping him busy." ... "I have TOYS with me" fell on deaf (and shockingly to me, ignorant, ears).

Kathy said...

Lisa ... I noticed in your profile that you are 252 years old.

You must be exhausted!

alphawoman said...

I was at my my husbands ex's (new) restaurant and the grandbaby who had just learned how to walk was running around the place like he owned it (well, I guess he does!) and running to each table and interacting with the guests. Thank God we knew all the people (sm. town Maybery, don't you know). i was actually thinking about you!

Sheria said...

Amen! I enjoy the company of well behaved children but far too many parents fail to set boundaries for their children. BTW, borrow away re: WRF awards!

cw2smom said...

I soooo agree! It makes me crazy to see that people allow that behavior in public! Some of my own family members have allowed their kids to run amok in restaurants and in department stores, and also climb all over stuff that's clearly not for climbling! Geez. I want to just cringe when I see that stuff. My brother has two little children that are soooo well behaved in public that I just want to hug them! So there's a plus! But, for the most part, it's the other way around and it affects us all. Wishing better customers for you! Lisa