DISCLAIMER: To those of you in my life who have children, please don’t get bent out of shape by the following rant. On the other hand, all parents assume their children are perfect anyway, so you probably don’t think I’m writing about your precious little ones in the first place. Carry on.

Now that that’s out of the way… I feel the need to bring this issue up if only so that others don’t have to suffer like I did. It begins on a warm, summer night. My friend, Deanna, is in town from Chicago and we’re having dinner, trying to cram months of news into two hours of time.

So although there are plenty of empty tables at this café, these two women stroll in with tot in tow and decide to sit directly behind me. Fine. In this country, we pride ourselves on being able to sit wherever we want. I can deal. What I cannot deal with is this little girl, whom I will admit was freakin’ adorable, promptly being allowed to walk around the joint to bother everyone else eating. Yes, I said bother. If I wanted the company of a two-year old, I would have had dinner at a day care center.

Of course the two women thought this was just completely charming. The little girl comes up to me, I mean right up to me and proudly shows off her two fingers that are stuck together. Stuck together with what? I don’t know. Juice. Snot. I don’t care – I just don’t want those fingers inches from the delicious meal I’m trying to eat.

However, I guess I wasn’t giving this little one the attention to which she was obviously accustomed, so she moved on. Uneasy smiles on their faces, this couple graciously humored the child, who continually looked back to her own table, only to be encouraged by her caretakers. Finally, she made her way back to their table, but not before giving me one last look at her apparently fascinating fingers.

Um, is there some kind of babysitting service offered by this café of which I am unaware? Did I get some kind of discount on my dinner for watching this kid? If so, let me assure you that I will gladly pay full price for a meal enjoyed in peace.

Now you’re thinking that I’m just a heartless wench… You would be wrong. I’m not saying there aren’t cute kids out there. I’m not saying I don’t get a kick out of their precocious behavior from time to time. But what I am saying is that to assume someone wants your toddler to waddle up to them during dinner, only to interrupt their meal, is both wrong and flat-out rude. I know you can’t just keep the kiddies locked up in the cellar while you have a night on the town (only in a perfect world). Yet that doesn’t mean everyone who happened to have the unfortunate luck of coming to the same restaurant that night is now your nanny by proxy. And I’m not just talking about eating out either. That goes for watching concerts, going to movies, waiting in line at the grocery store, picking up dry cleaning, grabbing a Starbucks, checking out books at the library, waiting to get a root canal… You understand, don’t you?

Wow, it felt really good to get that off my chest. Next up, those peeps that don’t say thank you when you hold open the door for them. Jerks.

Image: renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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7 Responses to “I Don’t Babysit For Free”

But …. But….don’t you know that you are obligated to think their kid is adorable? The parents do, so OBVIOUSLY you do too. Why in the world wouldn’t you want a strange little face with poor hand hygiene all up in your meal?
Discipline is out the window. ” We give our kids choices and freedom.” Psh.. to me, that little girl had two choices- Sit your butt down and behave, or we leave and go home where you will eat your PB and J and then go to time out or some other worthy punishment to teach you how to act properly in public next time. SIGH… I guess i’m a heartless wench too, but i’m proud of it 🙂

Kylie Deneen
October 27th, 2009

lovely story. i shall read it soon.

October 27th, 2009

You’re not a heartless wench. That kind of parenting is self-absorbed, inconsiderate, and unfortunately I see it all the time. It’s one of those “If I ever become a parent, I MUST not be like this” type things! I can tell you this: when I was a kid, I sat at the table where I belonged, and if I had tried to pull a walk-around like that kid, my parents would have apologized to everyone I bothered AND insisted i return to the table, AND possibly given me some kind of “punishment” upon returning home (sent to my room, or no TV, or something.)

I understand this kind of child/parenting behavior at a place FOR kids, like say Chuck E Cheese or something, but in an adult-oriented place, it is unacceptable.

Becky Lorenne
October 28th, 2009

I AGREE WITH YOU 100% I am glad someone said it!!!! I have two kids, as you know…but so help me if they even try to get out of their restraints while at a restaurant, I immediately take them out of the joint to have a moment to ponder how they would like it if some other little snot nose came up to them and started annoying them.

When I go out for food, I like to enjoy my meal in calm, with enjoyable conversation…even with the kids. I do not like other peoples kids coming up to me and trying to get my attention.

Geoff Leavitt
November 5th, 2009

Interesting, did you plan to continue this article?

November 8th, 2009

thechicagodisplacement.com – da best. Keep it going!

December 21st, 2009

Hi, Amazing! Not clear for me, how offen you updating your thechicagodisplacement.com.
Have a nice day

December 23rd, 2009