Friday, March 13, 2009

To the lady at Chocolati who hates children...

mute knocker...and, specifically, my child.

I realize my 21-month-old was being rather boisterous at times. He had had a long day, and here he was in a hot-chocolate shop, being pretty dang good, we thought (whatever "good" means). He was amusing himself and not physically accosting patrons at other tables, as he has done in the past. He was periodically making noises, but they were happy noises — babbling to himself, singing a line of a song only he knows the lyrics to, pointing out the air conditioner and lights to anyone who was as interested in such structural minutiae as he was.

For much of the time, he wasn't noisy at all. And just before you walked by us, I had realized that his voice was louder than usual, and I was trying to tempt him toward me with a singsong call of his name and an offer of raisins.

And then you, with your snide, "Some people are trying to work here, you know," and your storming off down the stairs...you left me feeling like a red-faced doofus with a handful of raisins.

There were so many things I could have said to you, if you had stuck around instead of scurrying away like a name-calling coward.

I could have asked you to whom you were addressing your complaint — our group of four adults talking in conversational tones, or the toddler letting fly his glee. I assume it was the latter, but I couldn't really confirm, because you had hightailed it after delivering your parting shot. I couldn't have any sort of conversation with you, or explain our side, or point out that I was in the process of quieting him, because all you seemed to care about was shaming me and my child in front of my friends, and ruining the rest of my time out with them.

So let me take this opportunity to tell you a few things:

     1. Chocolati is not a library, and it is not a private office. If you choose to work in public, then you need to be prepared for, you know, the public to be there with you. Your 8-ounce Dark Vader does not rent you four hours of a table, free wi-fi, an electrical outlet, and perfect stillness. Bring an iPod like everyone else, or learn to tune it out — or go somewhere that is expected to be quiet. Such a place is not an establishment made expressly for people to gather and get somewhat giddy on chocolaty goodness.

     2. I'm going to assume you don't have children, because I would hope that people with children would not be so judgmental (ha ha...OK, but seriously). As evidence for how bad Sam and I would be in a court of law, I recalled you as in your late 20s, so pre-reproductive, and Sam thought you were in your 40s, so post-. Either way, you came across as self-righteous in your certainty that you were doing the other patrons a favor by driving out such pesky hooligans as families who dare to emerge from their dens without benefit of a babysitter. As Sam said about you later, you think you're making the world a better place, but you're what's wrong with the world.

     3. If you know of a toddler volume control, please let me know. It would come in handy in church and all those other family-disapproving places. You didn't see the aftermath of your little snit, but we tried unsuccessfully to hush Mikko, in all our shame-facedness and our worry that the other patrons were hating on us as well. It ended in Mikko screeching in protest — was that better than his happy babbling? Of course, neither would have satisfied you, but at least in this case we were making Mikko suffer as much as you apparently were.

     4. Let me tell you a little about my life, something you neglected to consider when you dehumanized me into A Bad Mother who can't control her child. I had just received a notification that we were selected (oh, joy) for an audit on our last four years' state excise-tax returns. I was trying to forget it and enjoy my one weekly evening with friends. This regular night out together is restorative, and having my child with me, making connections to my friends, is something I cherish.

     5. You don't know my financial or familial situation, and whether I can afford or choose childcare. Regardless of whether alternative care is available to any particular parent, families have the right to exist outside of their homes. They have the right to be seen in public. They have the right to be heard in public. We try to follow the noise code of whatever particular place we're in, but embarrassments like this make parents feel like pariahs, and children feel unacceptable being children.

     6. From now on, I'll be self-conscious going to my weekly get-together. I'll cringe at every peep Mikko makes and wonder whether we're offending someone. I'll worry that you complained to the management instead of just walking out in a huff, and that they might ask us to leave what has been a welcoming spot. Maybe you meant to make me this anguished. If so, you succeeded.

     7. I'm trying not to hate you the way you hate me. I cut all the swearing out of this post. I hope that someday you'll have children (if you're the age I thought you were) and realize that parents could use some tolerance and love directed toward them as they raise the next generation.

Despite not getting to tell you face to face what's on my mind...here's hoping we don't meet again.

Photo courtesy of Jörg Ruth

5 comments:

Jenny said...

That sucks! Imagine if you'd breastfed him there. Bet she'd have hated that too, the big jerk. It's a shame she probably won't get to read this, but maybe some similar person will and it'll change them.

It irritates me anyway when people buy a $3 coffee and then lurk for hours, peering over their laptop screens as though irritated with any conversation, when they could just go to the library. Is that the cool thing to do, type novels on your expensive laptop in coffee shops?

Ugh. Rant over.

Cindy said...

Jenny, what's wrong with taking a laptop to a coffee shop? I prefer the atmosphere (and smells!) over the library anyday! :)

That was very rude of that lady though! I know you just had to vent and your blog is the perfect place for that, but don't let it ruin your day or any future visits with your friends. :) Some people are just rude, and that may not change for many.

On the flipside though, not to excuse her actions, but maybe she was having a bad day. Who knows. Maybe it was good she didn't stick around. Oh, well. Just keep on being the best mom, wife and friend you can be and don't worry what others think!

Jenny said...

Cindy,

Nothing against people with laptops (I loved mine while in college), just people who presume to look irritated while on them. The one time my husband and I took our daughter to Starbucks, there was this sour-looking man doing some kind of work at one of the nearby tables. Our daughter likes to walk around and smile at people and we were afraid he'd complain. I just don't think they have any right to expect a conducive work environment in a coffee shop.

Hobo Mama said...

Yeah, I don't mind if people want to work in coffee shops, assuming the management doesn't mind that they're taking up a table for hours, as long as they don't expect everyone else to hush. It's the glares that get to me. The people with their iPods who are checking their email and chilling are fine. :)

Jenny, I actually did breastfeed him right after she left as a way of calming him down a little, and I had the same thought — that she probably wouldn't have been happy with that, either!

Oh, well, we'll be back this week and hope we've scared her off. I get so little overt negativity on my parenting that it really throws me for a loop when it happens. I've been fortunate that no one's made a big deal out of my public breastfeeding or whatever. But it means I've sort of let my guard down.

I remember my mom getting the brunt of some ugly comments when my little brother was throwing a tantrum in a restaurant once (and being removed!). An older lady sitting by the door made some remark about how parents these days don't know how to control their children, and I was so mad on my mother's behalf. My brother was very intense, not unlike Mikko!

We took Mikko to a different cafe yesterday for a Bible study, and he was just as loud, but we were off in a corner under a music speaker, so I think we managed not to offend anybody!

Jenny said...

It's so funny how people will comment on parenting style one way or the other. Like that woman probably thought your mom should drag your brother to the bathroom and spank him. How else can you really "control" a kid? On the other hand, one of my friends went out to eat once with her husband and sons and her three-year-old was being loud and disruptive. His nose was also running, so his dad took him to the bathroom to calm down and to wipe his nose. It was a really quiet restaurant so the people eating at the tables could hear what they were saying. Her son loudly said "ow, Daddy, you're hurting me!" He wasn't being punished at all, just having his nose wiped and it was sore. A couple of old ladies jumped up and went over to the door to hear what was going on better. He got all these dirty looks when they came back out, and said he almost wanted to announce, "I was JUST wiping his nose!" So you can't win no matter what you do.

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