November 10, 2005

Sorry, Moms, The Mob Has Spoken


So after the story dominated local newscasts last night [?!?], Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn gave a stern talking to to the moms quoted in yesterday's NY Times article about the Scone Nazi and his "inside voices" sign for kids.

Judging by the volume of vehement and unanimous comments that quickly filled Zorn's blog, I'm gonna guess that "Andersonville Mom" t-shirts just dropped off all the Christmas lists in this, the city's hotbed of bad gentrification karma.

Do a scroll-by at high speed, and then tell me if it's significant that dads are outnumbered 20:1 on this topic.

Moms out to lunch on "indoor voices" request [chitrib via dt reader chris]
Previously: Babies The New Untouchables In Chi-town Coffee Shops?


I say, if the eatery, coffee shop etc . . . provides crayons and placemats on which to draw, those seeking a fine dining experience need set their expectations a little lower or go elsewhere. However, little ones running in the aisles while Mommy ( or Daddy ) sips a latte and reads Cosmo is not acceptable either. Personally when I go to the bar after picking the little one up from daycare, I just throw some quarters her way and plunk her down in front of the bar-top "entertainment only" slot machine. She's happy and I can enjoy my Bush Dry Draft Genuine Light beer in peace.

But sometimes the eatery provides crayons, etc. specifically to entertain children so they *won't* scream. It's a question of whose rights take priority here: the right of parents to remain in a coffeehouse/restaurant while their kids disturb other patrons with crying/yelling; or the rights of patrons without kids to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee while reading the paper? Ultimately, that's for the proprietor to decide. And it's perfectly appropriate if the proprietor to offer accomodation for children (crayons, etc), and still expect them to talk in "inside voices."

I think lots of folks have gone over the top on this one.

I'm sure he was tempted to put up a sign saying "All children must be firmly chained to their parents at all times, gags are enthusiastically recommended, and turn your damn cell phones off", but instead came up with pretty clever and polite "inside voices" statement. He's not telling anyone how to raise their children, he's telling them the level of behavior expected in his establishment. Unfortunately coffee shops, unlike other public and private venues, don't have an implicit expectation of behavior. Would you let your kid kick the chair in front of him at a concert? Have a rollicking game of tag in the library? Headbutt the headwaiter at a nice restaurant? Hopefully not, so why would you expect to let them run wild in this poor guy's coffee shop.

Or, maybe it's all his java that's making everyone so jittery about this....

Look, it's a fricking cafe, not a library. It's not like people are in there dismantling nuclear weapons. They're drinking coffee and reading fluff magazine articles. All the students who are studying are hooked up via headphone to something that plays music...

Sure, if you let your kid run around you're an idiot, but kids cry. If it gets way out of control you probably should leave, but if they don't have the stones to put up a sign that says "no children under X years old allowed" then they need to deal with the fact that they are patrons. And sometimes patrons don't fit your narrow expectations of behavior.

I hope it's ok if I comment on this. As a mum to be, and one who lives in New York City - I must say I think parents period should control their kids. I know kids speak loud sometimes, but I've seen mums and dads totally ignore their loud screaming child. It's very unnerving. I don't think the kids are 'brats' just being children, but if the parent won't do much, then that's just as bad - IMO.

I pray I don't allow any future children of mines run rampant in a public place, although I'm sure some unrulyness is bound to happen.

Love the blog!

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