What is up with letting children run wild in public?

I decided to go out for a late breakfast yesterday. Went straight from the gym, so I chose a casual place. I wasn’t expecting complete silence, but I certainly wasn’t expecting what I got.

I was seated in an end booth. The attached booth in front of me was occupied by a couple and their two semi-feral children. It appeared that they were nearly done (napkins in the plate) so I decided to stay and order rather than walk out. At this point, I figured they would be gone well before my order arrived.

The boy, probably 8 or 9, was running wild. He decided to fling himself on the floor next to me and do push-ups while screaming for his dad to look. Then he started boxing with his dad. As this was jostling my booth and coffee, I said “Excuse me!” to the father and son, and was ignored. I decided not to push the issue because it really did look like they would be gone in a minute or two as they now had their check and boxed leftovers.

The girl, about 6, laid down in the booth and put her feet over the seat and started kicking. I give her mother the stinkeye. Her mother takes her sweet time telling her to sit. More assorted mayhem from both children. The parents are arguing over the check. Pay cash! I don’t have any cash! Put it on the card! We need the card to pay for x! and on and on. I try to concentrate on my paper. The parents stand up, start putting on their coats and it looks like they are going to leave. The boy is now running around the group of booths pretending he is on a racetrack. The parents are standing there, doing nothing.

My order arrives. I ask the waitress to handle the situation. The waitress says that she is not allowed to say anything to the parents and that the manager must handle this. I ask to speak with the manager. I’m told he is busy. She relays that a couple of other people have also complained, and asks that I just hold tight because they look like they are leaving. I tell her they have been looking like they are on the verge of leaving for the past 10 - 15 minutes. I ask to be reseated, but there is nothing available. I decide to hold off on eating until they are gone.

The boy decides it’s time to crash his racecar self into the back of my booth, and fling his crashed racecar self over the back of my seat and into my booth, complete with crashed driver on fire screams. I get loud and say to the parents, who are ignoring their childrens behavior, “Please control your child!”. They turn around and look at me like I am bothering them, doing nothing. I decide against physically stopping the boy from climbing in because I’m starting to get more angry than annoyed. The boy is still trying to climb over the back of my booth, screaming that he is on fire, and I say in a do not f— with me voice "Stop it. Do not climb into my booth. " Boy ignores me. While climbing over, he knocks my coffee onto my Sunday paper and puts his jelly hands on me. I decide to put out his racecar fire with my water. Complete silence. Lady across from me who had been giving me sympathy looks is trying to stifle her laughter.

Now I have mom and dads full attention. And the attention of the manager. Mom and dad have a bust a cap in my ass ghetto attitude, so I say as sweetly as possible “He was screaming he was on fire. What did you expect to happen? I’m a mom! I instinctively threw my water on him.” I stuck to that. A couple of other patrons back me up, saying the boy was screaming he was on fire and trying to get into my booth. The parents are pissed. They make threats. I’m not intimidated, I continue with the sweet and innocent. They leave.

When I was a kid, parents would have been ashamed to have their children make a ruckus in public. You act up, your parents take you outside. Keep it up and you didn’t get to go to restaurants until you learned how to behave in public. No one expected to put up with other peoples out of control kids in a public setting. Now the attitude is that kids can do anything they damn please to other people and you are expected to suffer in silence.

You don’t understand; parents have no say in how their kids behave - all they can do is shrug with a wistful smile on their faces. At least, that’s what I am given to understand from watching tv.

Sorry you had a run-in with these…people.

Oh yeah, that reminds me of something I meant to come here and rant about - parents not riding herd on their kids at buffets! Two times we have been at a buffet in the last couple of weeks, and two times I’ve seen a young kid fingering the food (one even taking a bite and putting it back in the dish) while their parent was nowhere in sight. I guess parents can’t repress their children by not allowing them to go to the buffet by themselves, either; their fragile individuality has to be allowed to fondle the food we’re all eating.

Sadly, I don’t think any parents will be popping in to defend this sort of behavior. The behavior of the parents is what I’m referring to. You hear a lot of excuses for people letting their kids act up, but you never hear a parent saying, “Yeah, I think it’s just fine if my kid launches himself into someone else’s meal and spills their coffee into their newspaper. I never respond to requests to control my kid because I want my kids to turn out like monkeys.” I can’t understand why a reasonable adult human being wouldn’t say, at the very least “Oh, I’m so sorry my kid disturbed you.” The blank stare response just astounds me.

I would really, really, really like to hear an explanation of this. Why do people give you that dead blank stare when they’ve been called out?

Oh man, I wish I’d seen you extinguish that kid! :slight_smile:

Wait - you threw a glass of cold water all over him?

That’s AWESOME!!

You’ve been here since 2000, you should know better. This is the Dope.

I’ll lay odds that it’ll focus on Lurker’s use of water, which by the way, was awesome.

Yup, you got it. “Well, you didn’t have to THROW WATER on them!” “Maybe they both have Asperger’s!” “Maybe the whole family has Asperger’s!”

The behavior of the parents was absolutely inexcusable. All civilized adults, parents or not, should agree on that. Civilized parents should additionally resent these parents’ behavior for the bad example and bad name that their children give to ours.

The restaurant manager here deserves plenty of scorn, too, for failing to address this situation much earlier (after the first two customer complaints!), and if it were me, I’d be writing a letter right now to the restaurant owner (if independent) or regional manager (if chain) to complain about this contempt for the restaurant’s patrons. (He was “busy”? Short of putting out an actual fire, what could he possibly have been doing that was more important than addressing this?)

these are the kinds of people who put more consideration into what movie they want to go out to see than they do about being parents.

Sounds like someone misinterpreted Free-Range Kids.

I wish someone would, so I could show them why that wouldn’t work.

I see nothing wrong with what the OP did.


Good for you! I applaud you for putting up with that bullshit as long as you did.

Isn’t it great when obnoxious people give us an excuse to slag on people with real problems that we just don’t happen to buy?

No, really, it probably is great. It lets normal people blow off steam so they don’t go out and start branding Aspies on the forehead or tying them to car bumpers.

Parents should control their children in public, full stop. Part of being a parent is to bring up your children so they have consideration for others and are able to act so in public. No wiggle room on this one.

Give it ten years, these parents will be having conversations with the police at 2am and wondering where they went wrong.

It is also the duty of the resturant owner to expell any customers who are disturbing other customers. In this case I would have walked without paying the bill if they failed to act on my complaint.

He was screaming that he was on fire. :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m not an agressive person and I had an “oh shit did I really just do that” moment after I did it, but it was an extreme situation.

I’m betting thats the last time this kid climbs over and into someone elses booth though.

Agreed. LurkerInNJ, I really hope you didn’t pay for your meal. If any of the patrons deserved a comp you did. And if managment did comp a bunch of other patrons meals too you should’ve gotten a gift certificate too because of the boy climbing over the booth.

Well, I am a parent of children the same ages as described in the OP and you won’t get any defense of the parents from me. The only thing that would have been better is if Lurker threw water on the parents, too, because, you know, fire spreads quickly and all.

As a parent also, this is exactly what I was going to say.
We started our kids at a buffet with their grandparents, so there was always someone to take them out into the lobby if needed (and they never went to the buffet by themselves until they learned proper etiquette.)

I didn’t get comped for anything.

The parents were yelling that they deserved a free meal because of what I did, and that I should be arrested, they are calling the cops, they are going to f— me up and so forth.

The managers initial attitude was that I was in the wrong. :rolleyes: Another patron piped up and said something to the effect of the kid was screaming he was on fire, jumped into the lady’s booth and the lady threw water on him, and a couple of other people confirmed it. The parents kept it up with the I’m going to kick your ass bitch attitude, but I kept cool and insisted I was only trying to help.