Out of Control Children are Safety Hazards in Public Places

August 2nd, 2007.

I was browsing a parenting forum the other day because I’m dumb and I like to torture myself. Anyway, the women were discussing a recent news story where a stewardess kicked some chick and her toddler off of an airplane because the child would not stop talking during the safety speech. Of course, the baby machines were all up in arms and lamenting the fact that the whole world seems to want to pick on their children.

Obviously, it’s easier to play the victim than to parent a child nowadays.

Never mind that the child disrupted the flight during the safety speech. Let’s all forget about the other people on the flight who may have been particularly interested in hearing information that could potentially save their lives if anything unexpected happen. Let’s all ignore the fact that the flight attendant repeatedly asked the woman to please keep her child quiet for just 5 fucking seconds. Instead, let’s make this an issue about all the big, bad, mean people of the world who have the audacity to be irritated by our out of control children!

When will Mothers realize that this isn’t about being annoyed by badly behaved children so much as it’s about the safety issues insolent children create?

Time and time again I’ve been told that if I’m bothered by screaming children, I should refrain from frequenting any establishment that’s child friendly. This perplexes me for several reasons. First of all, the idea that all children are loud and obnoxious is tremendously false and misleading. I’ve seen young kids with impeccable manners and restraint. Not only that, but the entire theory gives parents a license to be lazy. Instead of disciplining a wayward toddler, they can simply shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh well! She’s 4! That’s how she’s supposed to act!”

I’m sorry, but even a 4 year old has the ability to learn the difference between an inside voice and an outside voice. Unless of course, she’s incurably stupid. Which, judging by the person raising her, wouldn’t surprise me in the least.

Not only that, but there is a definitive difference between a well behaved 4 year old and a reckless little animal. Unfortunately, most parents often mistake the former for the latter. I hate to break it to you, but just because a public place is considered ‘family friendly’ doesn’t give anyone the right to let junior run wild.

The main reason for this isn’t because it’s annoying, either. As I said before, it’s because it’s dangerous.

Has anyone ever been to a family friendly restaurant? Ever tried to pick up one of the plates? Heavy, aren’t they? Now imagine you’re a server at one of these family friendly restaurants. You have your arms full of those heavy, hot plates and you’re briskly walking to a table to deliver them to your hungry customers. All of the sudden, a child darts into the isle in front of you. You stop short to avoid running him over, but you can’t quite keep a hold of all the plates. One of them falls out of your arms and bashes the little brat’s brains in.

Who is at fault here?

Ok, say that doesn’t happen and you make it to the table without tripping over any of the kids who are currently crawling around on the ground. You attempt to deliver each entrée to the correct person, but there is a child squirming around in his seat. In the blink of an eye, that child reaches out and grabs one of the plates and burns himself badly.

Who is at fault now?

If you are the Mother, you’d probably blame the restaurant. However, if you have half a brain, you know the real blame lies with the parents. If a child is unable to sit quietly in a seat for an hour, he does not yet possess the emotional maturity to visit a restaurant…even if it’s a ‘family’ one. Servers in a family friendly restaurants should not be expected to just deal with infants screaming in their ears, little kids playing tag in front of them while they’re carrying heavy, hot plates, and little fingers coming at them from all angles. That’s a recipe for disaster and it’s dangerous. Not only for the server and the other patrons of the restaurant, but for the children. Parents, please don’t put your kids in harms way simply because you really, really, really have a hankering for a basket of cheese sticks!

Parents who have gotten lucky and managed to escape these situations without serious incident (excluding a couple of glares from other customers) think this shit never happens. Believe me, it does. I’ve witnessed it first hand.

About 10 years ago, I was visiting a restaurant while on vacation that wasn’t necessarily ‘family friendly,’ although people brought their kids anyway. It was an hour before closing and the place was thinning out, so a young server decided to gather up the bottles of ketchup from the empty tables so she could wipe them down in the kitchen. This particular establishment did not have the plastic squeeze bottles of ketchup. They still utilized the glass bottles.

Anyway, the server put a whole load of bottles on a serving tray and attempted to make her way to the kitchen. Unbeknown to her, a young couple had brought their 3 year old child out to eat and were currently letting the little nut job crawl around on the floor underneath the booth. Well, as the server approached carrying the tray of ketchups, the 3 year old darted out from underneath the booth with lightening quickness. Because it happened so fast, the server did not have time to stop short or side step the kid, but she made a valiant effort to avoid trampling him anyway. She hopped over the kid in one fluid motion; her reaction time was extremely impressive. If it were me, the kid would have ended up with a broken hand after I had stomped on him.

Unfortunately, the server did not land on her feet. Instead, she landed face first onto a tray of glass ketchup bottles. The absolute kicker to this entire story is the Mother actually got up and starting screaming at the server for ‘scaring her son.’ The poor server didn’t even argue. She just laid there in a pile of broken glass, ketchup, and blood.

On the upside, it was the only time in the history of my life where I witnessed a manger with balls enough to tell a customer to shut the fuck up. That, at least, was a beautiful thing.

I left the restaurant shortly after the ambulance took the server to the hospital, but I came back a few days later to inquire about her condition. Fifty seven stitches. Her face, her arms, and her hands were covered with gashes deep enough to require 57 stitches.

If that wasn’t bad enough, her wounds were apparently so bad that they ‘disturbed’ the customers, so she was forced to take a leave of absence from work. Somewhere out there is a server who lost her job and ended up with some particularly brutal scars because some asshole couldn’t control their kid.

An out of control child is a safety hazard in a public place. Parents need to learn to control them or hire a babysitter. They should not risk the safety of all the people around them simply because they are too lazy to parent their kids.

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