Pancakes with a Side of F*** Off


Rose Woodhouse

Elizabeth Picciuto was born and reared on Long Island, and, as was the custom for the time and place, got a PhD in philosophy. She freelances, mainly about disability, but once in a while about yeti. Mother to three children, one of whom is disabled, two of whom have brown eyes, three of whom are reasonable cute, you do not want to get her started talking about gardening.

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133 Responses

  1. Avatar Notm says:

    Both parties are wrong.Report

  2. No matter what the behavior of the child:

    1) Addressing her and not her parents was inappropriate.

    2) Screaming at her is grossly egregious.

    3) Responding to these parents on the Facebook page with anything other than a contrite apology is impossibly unprofessional and stupid. We live not all that far from this restaurant. There is absolutely no way I would take my children there, know this about the owner.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to Russell Saunders says:


      Do I appear super-pathetic if I tell you I’ve missed you? Seeing you in the Twitter window just makes it worse…I wanted to help you with your iPhone screen-orientation lock….Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Is the owner certifiably crazy?
      We had a crazy owner here, and her yelp responses make waaay fun reading.
      (yes, she liked to yell at people in the restaurant too, though I didn’t hear of her yelling at babies).Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Glad to know that some people react this way. I was discouraged by the increased business.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders says:

      Everything @russell-saunders said here is entirely correct.

      Naturally, I will bloviate on, in a few different, semi-related directions…

      1.) I was on a plane once that had a baby on it who was essentially silent the entire trip. Upon landing and taxiing, she began to cry. We were stuck on the runway for a few minutes and eventually someone piped up with, “Will someone quiet that baby?!” said with all the attitude in the world. Someone else responded, “She’s a baby. What’s your excuse?” Nailed it. Far too often we tolerate behavior from adults that we wouldn’t tolerate from children. Which is 100000% ass backwards. The owner’s issue with the child was, presumably, that she could not control her emotions and was causing a disturbance. And he shows her how inappropriate this was by… losing control of his emotions and causing a disturbance? Well then…

      2.) I recently lost my temper with Mayo, raising my voice even beyond the “big voice” I sometimes ned to use at work. It was awful on any number of levels and being the sweetpea that he is, he seems to have forgiven me. But then later in the day, when he was yelling at me to get my attention, I said, “Mayo, I’m not going to look at you if you’re yelling.” Egg, meet face. How could I demand that of him when I yelled in order to gain his attention? This isn’t to say that it is never appropriate to raise your voice with a child, but it should be done intentionally to serve a purpose rather than as an emotional outburst.

      3.) There seems to be a weird thing happening where one segment of society is increasingly thinking, “Every where is a place for children,” and another segment is increasingly thinking, “No where is a place for children.” I watched a grown ass woman, attending on her own, shush a four-year-old during the final minutes of an afternoon showing of “Inside Out” at the community owned theater. What??? And of course there was the much discussed situation of those parents who brought a small child to that impossible-to-get-a-table-at-restaurant. I don’t know quite what to make of it other than, “People are increasingly operating under the assumption that the world should cater to them.” Which is indeed alarming. All that said, a diner seems like a reasonable place for children to be and while I would hope that parents had strategies to use in response to a tantrum, anyone so bothered by a two-year-old doing two-year-old things in a place for families is probably in the wrong establishment.Report

  3. Avatar Glyph says:

    I wasn’t there, and some parents are indeed terrible, but I am surprised by the amount of online support for the business owner, who comes across as frankly unhinged.

    Also, the thirty minutes’ wait is on the family – they knew what the wait was, and they stuck it out – but the 40 minutes for pancakes (PANCAKES) is on the restaurant.

    Toddler or no, you’ve got service issues at that point; once you seat me, you should be able to serve me in a reasonable amount of time; or customers of any age have a right to get irritable.Report

    • Avatar Notm in reply to Glyph says:

      Story says it was a weeked morning at the dinner, so i adjust my personal feelings about how long things should take, even to get pancakes. I dont excuse the owner but ive avoided many places when i thought my kids might meltdown bc of wait times.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Notm says:

        Oh, I know things get crazy at certain times, but the “crazy” should be primarily on the wait to get a table. If they tell you up front it’s going to be a half-hour to get seated, that half hour should mostly be the “difference” in total time to food from just getting seated right away, and you can adjust your plans/expectations/behavior.

        Once you get seated, a properly-staffed and -run restaurant should be able to serve you in a reasonable amount of time, or else they have too many tables (or not enough staff). So to me, the forty minutes for pancakes (pancakes) indicates the restaurant may have a service problem.

        I mean, in addition to yelling at little kids and threatening customers online.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

          At a hopping diner (and Pamela’s does hopping!), with every table fully seated (and a line out the door), I expect a 40 minute wait to not be totally unreasonable… on a weekend. People come in to chat, and eventually to eat.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to Kim says:

            Eh, again, people should be expected to linger and chat, but ideally a restaraunt should be able to have every table full, and still serve all of them adequately.

            The line out the door is the queue and it can be however long it needs to be, but once you get seated on the ride, it should start moving, especially once your order is taken. 40 minutes is a long time to wait for pancakes.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Glyph says:

          The owners FB complains that she only has so much grill space and three pancakes takes up a lot of room. Get a bigger grill then or have fewer tables. But serving food is your business, dont’ complain when people are trying to give you money even if they are wasting it.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to greginak says:

            *eyeroll* that’s ridiculous. is she implying that she let other orders go ahead?

            It’s a hot metal plate. If you need a bigger one, you get a bigger one. And three pancakes shouldn’t take up that much space on your griddle.Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to Kim says:

              Depends upon the SIZE of the pancakes doesn’t it?

              Yes, let’s expand the grill. We’ve done our analysis of the demo/construction time/costs and the loss of income from the closure during renovations? We’ve confirmed that there are no other issues, say with permits or grandfathering of zoning that wouldn’t get negated by this change in the store? Right…Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

                Unless these are absolutely massive pancakes, an order of three should not completely fish up your ability to process other food orders.

                And if they do for some reason, then perhaps you should take your Absolutely Massive Pancakes off the menu.

                Or alternately, go all in and make Absolutely Massive Pancakes your only menu item.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Glyph says:

                See my last post. They appear to be dinner plate size. That’s pretty big. And I think it’s the case that the cook either puts three down for one order or puts one down and continues cooking other orders. He’ll go for the second option, thus the long wait for 3 pancakes.Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Damon says:

                So if they had three tables, each of which wanted one pancake, (or one table of three adults, each of whom wanted one pancake) it would screw their production up just as much?

                That doesn’t seem like a particularly unlikely scenario or pancake-ordering payload. Which still means to me they have a problem.Report

    • Avatar aarondavid in reply to Glyph says:

      Mmm, wait time is one of those things that you just gotta deal with on the weekend breakfast scene. At least here in Norcal. That said, you do need to let the customers know at least an estimate of time.

      The owner comes across as a jerk, that is for sure.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to aarondavid says:

        Yeah, Bay Area restaurants have epic wait times.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to aarondavid says:

        I will wait (or not, as I choose) any amount of time…to be seated. That wait’s on me, so long as they gave me a reasonably-accurate estimate of wait time (most places pad, to be on the safe side, so generally if they tell you 45 minutes to be seated, it will usually be no longer than that, and often a little shorter).

        But: once seated and ordered, the clock is ticking and food should come out in a reasonable time, particularly basic comfort food which requires little special prep (long or involved cooking processes) – and most breakfast food (say, pancakes…pancakes) fits that bill. It’s why people go to diners.

        Otherwise, it’s likely that the establishment has either too many tables/not enough grill real estate/inadequate or unskilled cooks, servers or staff. That’s on them.Report

  4. Avatar greginak says:

    Wow…the owner/lunatic was complaining about people buying to much food from her. How dare they waste their money by giving it to her. Who knows why they decided to carb load their child. Anybody with the most passing knowledge of the restaurant business knows people have a million different weird tastes and food desires. That is part of the business. And don’t yell at other peoples children. Just don’t do that. I wouldn’t yell at any of my nieces or nephews children unless their parents weren’t within a mile and only if i was trying to save them from being run over by a train.Report

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Yeah, yelling at the kid was completely inappropriate. No one looks good in this situation, but the owner looks much worse. Have a conversation with the adults, if they don’t take the kid outside to calm him or her down, ask them to leave, then demand that they leave. They’ll probably still leave negative feedback on your Facebook/Yelp pages, because they’re assholes, but you can reply and explain, and you’ll come out looking much better than they.

    When my son was 4, a stranger, a mentally ill homeless woman well known on capmus, yelled at him at a bus stop. It was so traumatizing that he still brings it up to this day.Report

    • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Chris says:

      When I was a kid, we were eating at Shoney’s. The silverware came in little plastic bags, which I would pop. One time, I scared an older gentleman who was eating there, and he grabbed my by the ear and gave me a very stern reprimand. It scared me, and I did not pop the plastic anymore after that.

      I did not know at the time, because they did not say anything to me, but my parents were both pretty mad at the guy.Report

  6. Avatar j r says:

    Am I the only one who does kind of want to go check this place out?Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to j r says:

      If you do, I hope you order a bunch of pancakes during the breakfast rush, and I hope you make a lot of noise.Report

    • Avatar Glyph in reply to j r says:

      If I had no kids I probably would. There used to be a couple places that I frequented that exhibited Soup-Nazi-levels of service (in one greasy spoon diner, the owner and his wife would scream obscenities at each other while smoking like chimneys; in a chili-dog place, they used to get really mad if you broke any of several arcane rules of conduct there when it came to ordering and payment), and the, uh, ambiance was part of the experience/entertainment.

      I probably wouldn’t go to either with my kids, though.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Glyph says:

        Herwig’s used to have a punishment board for corporal punishment if you failed to finish your food. And make merciless fun of you if you mispronounce an order… and talk about how they served unicorn meat…Report

  7. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    I think the support for the diner owner stems from an inflated* sense that the country is overrun with bad/inconsiderate parents who only care about their special snowflake.

    *Thank you internet for making everything that is petty & local a massive viral thing.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “Apparently business at the diner has increased. I find this flummoxing.”

    Amy’s Bakery effect in the short term, in the long term, their actual customer service gaussian distribution will determine the new equilibrium customer level.Report

  9. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I recall about a year and a half ago there was some controversy over a couple bringing a very small child to Alinea. The sitter flaked out at the last minute and the couple had purchased their tickets months in advance. So they brought the kid, because you can’t leave the kid alone and they’d already spent the money. The kid predictably but unfortunately acts out and fusses and cries because he’s a little kid. The owner responded by thereafter banning children altogether. Accolades afterwards to the restaurant for banning those annoying little brats, with a side order of public shaming for the parents.

    That’s Alinea. A Michelin three-starred destination restaurant, debatably one of the finest restaurants in the United States and at least on the kinda-short list of finest in the world. Foodies get happy little foodie orgasms thinking about dining at Alinea.

    Today, though, we’re talking about a diner in a touristy part of Maine serving up pancakes and other carb-er-ific breakfast fare to hungry, wet summer vacationers.

    My expectations of the dining experience at a diner are substantially different than they would be at Alinea. While I would also find a fellow-diner’s fussy, crying, screaming kid annoying in the diner, it’s a long way along the spectrum towards the “stuff you’ve just gotta put up with” in the diner as compared to a fine dining restaurant.

    Consequently, I’m leaning more towards Rose’s side of the issue: while the parent would have been lily-white and without blame had she stepped out of the restaurant with the yelling, fussing kid, it’s really not the place of the owner to yell at the kid herself. You don’t get to parent someone else’s kids unless they ask you to. You get to manage your restaurant.

    The right thing for the diner owner to have done would be to say to the mom, “Would you mind taking your kid outside for a few minutes until she calms down?” Maybe the owner did exactly that, and the mom gave her attitude back; that’s a different story and the posts suggest that the owner was the one with the hair trigger temper.

    All around interpersonal diplomacy fail, but the -5 points should go to Marcy’s Diner, not the mom. You’re a diner, not Alinea, so get over yourself already and sling the pancakes.Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to Burt Likko says:

      Yes, I think the fact that it’s a diner matters.

      Another thing I kept reading over and over again were parents who said that their kids were raised never to behave that way. I wish parents would get less self-congratulatory about their kid’s behavior. Our oldest was exceptionally un-fussy, and we would get compliments all the time. We would take him out to pretty upscale places – not Alinea, but nothing to sneeze at – and he was lovely. One time, the chef came out to meet the 2-year-old who was so well-behaved and eating duck carpaccio instead of chicken nuggets. My middle child has only once in his whole life cried in public.

      But – alas – it is not that we are such fabulous parents. We will barely take our youngest to Panera. He will wander off, make loud comments about people’s body shapes, tantrum if he is not allowed to order what he wants.

      Temperament really matters.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Burt Likko says:

      How do you feel about parents who take their kids to bars?

      I don’t mind when parents take their kids to a casual restaurant but there is still something very odd to me about seeing hipsterish Boho young parents take their under 1-year olds to divey bars. I see this fairly often in SF.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Are the kids drinking whiskey? Starting brawls? Sexually harassing the waitresses?Report

      • Avatar Mo in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        It’s also totally normal in countless European countries.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Depends on the bar and the time of day. But even at the kid-friendliest bar at the ideal time of day, I still recognize I’m not in a kid place and high tail it out of there the minute one of the boys is causing any sort of problem. Plus I tip really well.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        >>hipsterish Boho young parents take their under 1-year olds to divey bars

        It definitely looks and feels weird, but it actually makes sense for <1yr kids because their needs are very predictable – eat, poop, get comforted, sleep – and the last need takes up 90% of their time. Most importantly, they can't get around on their own and are often happiest sitting in a small space. I've talked to many parents who say that they really wish they went out more up to 1-year because it's this strange period where you're getting cabin fever as a new parent, and the kid is very limited in how much havoc they can wreck.Report

  10. Avatar LWA says:

    Has there ever been a set of parents who didn’t experience a toddler or child having a full scale meltdown tantrum in public?
    Is there a restaurant anywhere that hasn’t experienced this in one form or another?

    If there are any special snowflakes here, it is the people who are unable to tolerate or endure the normal range of behaviors of families and children.

    I read a wonderful essay once, and have long since lost track of the author, but it was about freaks.

    It began by noting that a freak is considered something that has a abnormal trait, like curled leaves or missing or extra limbs, that usually renders it unable to exist in the normal environment, and can only be sustained in a rarefied, specially controlled environment like a hothouse flower. But freaks are a naturally occurring, normal part of the diverse range of life forms in any species.

    It went on to describe how, in our desire to vanquish things that we find unpleasant or unacceptable, we slowly lose the ability to tolerate the naturally occurring broad range of forms and behaviors, and slowly narrow the acceptable range until we can only tolerate an environment which is tightly controlled and monitored. Where we all become freaks.Report

    • Avatar Rose Woodhouse in reply to LWA says:

      That essay sounds lovely. I just had an interaction with my oldest about the idea of freak shows – maybe it’s worth writing about.

      I do think if we want to eat at a restaurant, we should expect that the presence of others may intrude upon our notice. And some of those others are small.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to LWA says:

      My reaction is to again refer back to the spectrum of appropriate social expectations. There’s a class of behaviors and incidents that you just have to put up with, and a class of behaviors and incidents that are socially appropriate to complain about.

      The young kid having a meltdown is sometimes on the “deal with it, pink boy” end of the spectrum and sometimes on the “you shouldn’t have to put up with that” end of the spectrum. The diner, though is on the “deal with it” end, and Alinea is on the “you’re right to complain” end.

      Where that line gets crossed, I don’t know exactly. About a half step up from Olive Garden, maybe.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to LWA says:

      Isn’t that the argument against institutionalizing the mentally ill? We are just trying to put them out of sight and out of mind.

      What we are seeing here is two incompatible issues in democratic society and liberty. On the one hand you have a definition of liberty that says people should be able to live in their own defined communities and that could mean “We are the upper-middle class community where everyone is athletic looking and wealthy.” On the other hand, we have a general idea that segregation is a moral wrong and that diverse communities encourage compassion and respect and maybe even liking each other more.

      These are incompatible. You can have one or the other but not both.Report

      • Avatar LWA in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        @burt-likko @saul-degraw

        This is again where I come back to the notion of speaking less about rights or clearly delineated arguments, but a negotiated boundary by consensus.

        The boundary between an acceptable level of behavior and unacceptable is different for everyone, but there is a tipping point where enough of the group can and should enforce norms.Report

  11. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I find that the sound of crying and screaming children freaks me out and makes me uncomfortable as well. IIRC there is something evolutionary about this and it is natural because we want to figure out how to get the kids to calm down. Some further observations:

    1. I totally get and understand that being a parent and having children is not for everyone. I am not even sure if having kids is for myself. There seems to be a substantial number of the “child-free” crowd who thinks that they should never, ever be required to interact with children especially when the kids are in meltdown mode.

    2. Related to #1, there seems to be a low-grade war going on about what spaces are kid-friendly and what spaces are not. Burt’s example of Alinea above. On the other side, I have seen parents take their young children to bars and beer gardens and breweries, and wineries. I am not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I can see that parents (especially youngish parents of relatively young children) are going to want to spend time out and not be chained at home. On the other hand, bars are adult places.

    3. There seems to be something in human nature that makes people think “kids these days”. I have heard 19-year olds say stuff like “the problem with kids these days is that they are not taught to expect their elders like I was” with a straight face.

    4. Disciplining or speaking to other people’s children seems to exist as an idea in some communities and cultures more than others. My girlfriend grew up in Asia. She told me that every adult who is a non-parent or teacher is called “Aunty” and “Uncle”. I find this rather bizarre. It does seem to turn every adult into a family-esque figure who has the right to give commands in some way. Another friend who grew up in India and now lives in LA once wrote something on facebook about how she needs to resist calling every older Indian co-worker “uncle” and “aunty”. This is a rather communal way of forming society that is not really present in the Anglo-sphere where we see families as atomized units.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Asia (and Japan in particular) have a much stronger idea of cultural conformity too.
      An elder, any elder, reprimanding you is shameful.Report

    • Avatar switters in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Related to one, I once got into a heated discussion, before i had kids, with a gentlemen who took exception to a screaming child on an airplane. He was telling the kids mother that he doesn’t have kids, and so shouldn’t be expected to tolerate them. Unable to refrain from jumping to the family’s defense, I said that’s besides the point. He asked why, and I said it doesn’t matter if you have your own screaming kids, because you used to be one yourself. And everyone tolerated you.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I am not even sure if having kids is for myself

      Evolution is a tricky bastard. If it is your own kid, or even a close blood relative, you are primed to go all gooey and proudly post the products of the kid’s artistic genius on your refrigerator. In reality, having a baby is like having the worst roommate in the world move in: loud, demanding, eats your food, and doesn’t even help with the rent. And nobody–absolutely nobody!–not also a close blood relative cares about the “art.” There are other benefits besides genetic trickery, but you have to take the long view for them.

      Some people, however, are not susceptible to the genetic trickery. They hold their newborn child and think “What an ugly kid!” My advice to these people is to put the kid up for adoption. Seriously. Wiping poop off butts isn’t for you, and the kid will sense it. It won’t go well for either of you.

      The kicker is that you can’t tell in advance. I was not a “kid person” until I had my own. Maybe being a kid person is a positive indicator, but not being a kid person doesn’t tell you anything.Report

    • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Bars and beer gardens are “adult places” why exactly? IMO, it’s because we in North America have a globally anomalous hang-up about bars being seedy and awful places.

      Go to a beer garden in Germany, you’re likely to see kids. Go to a Heurige in Austria, you’re likely to see kids. Go to a village pub in England, you’re likely to see kids. Go to a cafe in France, you’re likely to see kids. As a child, I ate with my parents at all of those places except a German beer garden.

      When we were in Brazil with our daughter who was then not quite two, the first time we went into a bar for lunch we were somewhat nervous we would be booted out and shamed for bringing a child to such a den of iniquity. A waiter brought over a high chair.

      We’re the weird ones for thinking kids don’t belong in bars.Report

    • Avatar Troublesome Frog in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      It always seemed to me like there’s a pretty good coarse rule set for “Should I bring my kid here?”

      Is it a place you pretty much have to go to (DMV, public transit, Jiffy Lube, etc.)? Bring your kid. Nobody likes flying but we do it to get from point A to point B. Children are not exceptions. They’re people who go places just like everybody else. We all need to deal. Nobody likes anybody else in an airplane anyway.

      Is it a “family friendly” place full of kids of all ages? Bring your kid. People who freak out because kids are making noise at Denny’s or McDonald’s make no sense to me. The ambient noise level is high and the feel of the place is chaotic, so what’s your complaint?

      Is it a place where people are expected to be silent for an hour or more (concert, non-childrens’ movie)? Probably not great to bring a kid unless they can reliably be quiet for an hour or more. This seems like a no-brainer, but it apparently is not. For a movie, I’m not even annoyed when people bring little kids as long as they’re ready to step out as soon as they become disruptive. I only get annoyed when people think, “I paid $12 for this, so that gives me the right to ruin it for the other 300 people here.”

      Is it a place where a loud conversation would disrupt people around you (fine dining restaurant, university library, etc)? Probably not great to bring your kid. At least, not if you’re not prepared to bail the moment you can’t conform to noise-making norms. The idea that I shouldn’t have to *see* a kid in one of these places is extreme and silly. But noise making norms are noise making norms, and a lot of people go to these places specifically for the environment. Disrupting that environment is not far off of spitting in somebody’s food.

      There are probably plenty of gray areas, but off the top of my head, this seems like it covers the majority of cases. Am I crazy, or is it weird that there isn’t at least rough consensus on these?Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

        I think there is at least rough consensus.

        The thing that seems to have the most divergence is restaurants. What is “fine dining” exactly? Is “fine dining” compatible with a large group table of adults getting loud and cheerful for somebody’s birthday? Is it compatible with people who are hard of hearing so they can’t take part in a conversation unless everyone speaks up?

        I’ve certainly been to restaurants that would bankrupt me if I ate there often, heard tables full of grey haired folks get right loud, and nobody seemed to be bothered by it. It’s a happy night out – Esther is 70 today. Hurrah!

        But I suspect that at least a few of the people in the restaurant would be much more bothered if a child were making even half that much noise.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      1. People who thought too much about “child free” and formed a philosophy around it seem to want to live like a Friends-esque sitcom or something. There is something really self-indulgent about the people who really put a lot of thinking into the child free crowd.

      2. My main concern about kids in bars is that they often play music loud and it might hurt the kid’s ears. As long as their isn’t overtly sexual entertainment or more importantly a chance turn towards violence, I don’t see any real problem with it. Like others noted, beer gardens are considered family spaces in Germany and Germans seem to have a good relationship towards alcohol. Turning alcohol and places that serve it into child-free spaces does more harm than good. The presence of enough kids might actually be a benefit for a bar and serve as a civilizing force.

      3. People are hypocrites.

      4. You do not discipline or yell at another person’s kids.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

        One of the things that was pointed out to me by my mom was that when they first got married, they had a circle of friends… and when they had kids, about 75% of the circle of friends also had kids… and that 75% became the new circle of friends and the previous 25% went off elsewhere. They were always welcome, of course, but it’s one thing to hang out with your friends who are talking about sports, politics, pop culture, shopping, whatever, and it’s another thing to hang out with your friends who are swapping stories about their kids.

        People find new circles at that point.

        So, with that in mind, I’ll say that I know that I am committing a postdiction fallacy here.


        When I was a kid, grownups who got married were expected to have children. If you couldn’t make them yourself, you should adopt. People had kids. That’s what you did. You weren’t a real grownup until you actually had kids. There were all kinds of negative feedbacks in the culture to re-inforce that you should get married and have kids.

        Now, it seems, the culture is catering much more to people (like me!) who don’t have kids. Kids are now seen as more of a lifestyle choice than a social obligation.

        And that is going to seriously come back and bite us, as a society, in the butt.Report

        • Avatar Glyph in reply to Jaybird says:


          And that is going to seriously come back and bite us, as a society, in the butt.

          How so?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Glyph says:

            See Japan and to a lesser extent South Korea and many European countries. Societies with very low birthrates tend to suffer from a lot of problems as the average age rises. For one thing you don’t have enough people to take care of the old people, particular those that never had kids, and keep the economy running and growing. Old age might be less deliberating in the present than in the past but its still plenty deliberating and most people lose the ability to take care of themselves at some point if they live long enough.

            Low birth rates societies also seem self indulgent in ways that might not be safe or even dangerous. Monogamous societies were able to out compete polygamous societies because they were more productive and disciplined. They also had fewer social problems because monogamy gave more adult men a stake in the system rather than leaving them permanent bachelors. I’m wonder if more conservative societies could overwhelm the liberal ones.Report

            • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:

              Low birthrates AND low immigration, right? We may have one, but not the other. Yet, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

                Our immigration is overwhelmingly unskilled labor. This may be useful for stuff like the upcoming need for domestic help, but we’ll also find that the whole pay-go system of Social Security will run into problems not only for the ratio of workers to retirees getting checks but the fact that it’s a lot easier to collect the money for those retirees by skimming off of the top of the paychecks of skilled labor than of unskilled labor.

                Yesterday, NPR was talking about how Social Security was going to run into serious financial problems starting the year I hit 63.

                I admit to having found that really, really funny.Report

              • Avatar Notm in reply to Jaybird says:

                The liberal answer is tax the rich bc they’ll always have money.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

          There are very complicated reasons why kids are seen as a lifestyle choice rather than a social obligation and most of these reasons are good things from liberal, libertarian, or leftist stance. The big reason is that kids are no longer an economic and political necessity. For most of human history, kids were economically and politically important. They provided labor for their parents and a way to cement alliances through marriage if you were high status enough to need that. Kids who survived into adulthood were also the only form of security against old age for most people because very few adults would ever earn enough to pay for other people to take care of them. These things have been less and less true since the 19th century. The growth of non-hereditary government and business made kids less necessary for marriage alliances. Even in non-democratic countries, kids aren’t really politically necessary these days with the exception of North Korea. The advances in the economy and the welfare state made it possible for more people to take care of themselves without kids barring some really unfortunate situations.

          Feminism also made kids less of a social obligation. An important part of women’s liberation was to free women from the chains of domesticity that previously bound them. Women are freer now to live as they please in large parts of the world than they ever were previously. This is a very good thing but it makes kids a lifestyle choice rather than a social obligation. Most women are going to want fewer kids if they have any say in it. Wealthy societies with low risks of infant mortality tended towards fewer children before feminism had any successes in the first place because kids were became an expense rather than a source of wealth because of the factors listed above.

          Contraceptives and abortion make fun, PIV heterosexual sex without the risk of pregnancy easy. This again turns kids into a lifestyle choice rather than a social expectation.

          The only way to turn kids into a social expectation is to really turn back the clock and re-institute many ideas and practices that most people on Ordinary Times would regard as morally monstrous regardless of where we fell on the political spectrum. It would also require a lot of economic destruction and a lowering a living standards so that kids are economically, politically, and socially necessary.

          It isn’t going to happen.Report

          • Avatar Glyph in reply to LeeEsq says:


            At the risk of, once again, exposing myself as one of the less-intellectual members of the site who gleans most of his insights from pop culture, there was a storyline in the Battlestar Galactica reboot that sort of dealt with some threads we’ve discussed around here recently.

            At one point, President Roslin (previously presented as probably the equivalent of a liberal Democrat in the show’s universe) makes the decision to outlaw abortion amongst the tiny band of humanity’s remnants currently fleeing across the galaxy on the run from genocidal robots.

            This is a decision which goes directly against her personal feelings and prior political stances; yet in her estimation, the question of the currently-precarious survival of the species, outweighs any individual’s right to choose for themselves.

            And that got me thinking about how many of our cultural customs & beliefs w/r/t marriage, and kids, and abortion, and hetero/homosexuality probably originated, in one way or another, when we were living in much smaller tribes, and one good famine or disease outbreak (or skirmish with the next tribe over) was all it might take to wipe out our tribe forever.

            In such an environment, it might make some sense to those guys to say, “get married, have kids, lots of them; and I don’t wanna see none of that gay stuff neither; we have GOT to bulk up the population. Birth control/abortion is right out.”

            But now, we sort of face the opposite problem – our very *numbers* threaten us, and we have generated unimaginable (to those ancestors) amounts of wealth (with “wealth” defined as Jaybird did the other day: meaning not just “money”, but also tech and knowledge etc.)

            So now, it makes sense to look around and say, “you know what, have kids, or don’t, it’s up to you; do what you want to do and love who you want to love, without worrying about progeny. Do what thou wilt.” etc.

            We can afford to be more liberal – hey, maybe we can even afford to be more libertarian – because we don’t face society-wide existential threats currently (that aren’t largely related to our successes, anyway).

            Now, it’s possible that a few hundred years down the line, our descendants will be on the run from genocidal robots, and at that time, they will have to make the choices that make the most sense to them, given the facts on the ground at that time.

            But that is their problem, and their choice; we can only act with the facts on the ground available to us now.Report

  12. Avatar Damon says:

    Well, let’s see..

    I find crying/screaming children to be excruciating, only exceeded by fire alarms that actually echo in my skull. They waited an hour for food-30 mins for the table and 40 mins for the food. (The pancakes are apparently very large-dinner plate size and likely have to be cooked one at a time) According to the mom, the kid had started to get antsy. Given the over all white wash tone of her column, I’m better it was near 40 minutes of the kid being antsy. The mom said she “didn’t see anyone looking at us or think we were causing a disturbance”. Maybe so. But we were on our 4th attempt to calm the kid down (once every ten minutes) when the owner asked them to leave. They didn’t. The mom claims she didn’t know who the woman telling them to leave was. Really? Didn’t ask did they? Didn’t decide that maybe they should bail? Nope, stayed right there.

    Gee, I’ve known parents that pull their kids from places after 10 minutes. 40 mins? I’d have been climbing the walls, especially if I observed the parents not doing anything to calm their kid down.

    Not saying the owner was right. But after sitting in a 18 hour flight with a kid kicking the back of my seat for hours and the mom not doing a damn thing, I sure as hell understand the anger, frustration, and rage.

    Blame factor: Mom 90%. Owner 10%. Public Relations: Reverse that.Report

    • Avatar Gabriel Conroy in reply to Damon says:


      Even though I’d apportion the blame almost opposite to how you would (I’d say Owner 70% and Mom/Dad 30%…but I’d agree with your apportionment of PR fail), most of your comment really touches on how I suspect some of this went down.

      I can imagine it being really busy and noisy and the parents being much worse than they portray themselves after the fact (I agree with you that it’s probably a white wash…at the very least, I don’t think we’re getting the whole story) and the owner just losing her temper. She shouldn’t have lost her temper and she certainly shouldn’t have done the online rant. But sometimes things happen. So I guess she should get out of the business or take out a huge loan and reinvest in a better establishment, as some people above seem to suggest. [ETA: /snark….in case it wasn’t clear]

      On the other hand, my personal temperament probably predisposes me to see your side of the story. This:

      I find crying/screaming children to be excruciating, only exceeded by fire alarms that actually echo in my skull.

      Describes me almost to a T, especially if you add ambulances and firetruck sirens to the mix. Ugh!Report

  13. Avatar aarondavid says:

    I think @kazzy nails it up at the top, but I do want to add one thing. When my son was young, his mother and I were also young. And we took him out with us when we went out. If he started fussing while seated, one of us (we took turns) would go outside with him. If they didn’t comeback in about 10 minutes, the other paid the check and we as a family left.

    People understand a screaming baby for the most part, but an ignored screaming baby only pisses people off. Whatever teachable moment you are having, don’t inflict it on others.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aarondavid says:


      Excellent point. And you and your wife’s approach shows a wisdom that seemingly belies your age. Then again, so much of good parenting is about having a plan, a backup plan, and a backup to the backup plan.

      The plan is breakfast.
      The backup plan is step away from the table for a few.
      The bakcup to the backup is leaving if the other doesn’t return.

      Of course, that is just one spoke on the wheel. You also need the backup plan for a diaper emergency, a hungrier than expected child, etc.

      Now that I’m on number two, I’ve got a diaper bag that, when properly stocked, can get me and the two of them through just about anything over a 12 hour span.

      However, I’m curious… given the inordinate wait, do you think the owner would have been any more gracious if they attempted to cancel their order after 20 minutes and then left? I feel like he’d have had a similar reaction.Report

  14. Avatar Stillwater says:

    She said she had perhaps shown poor judgment, but she can’t regret what she did because she shut the kid up. Well, yes. By frightening the bejesus out of her, most likely.

    And then the owner’s rant is disproportionate retribution for the parental crimes, to put it mildly.

    Oh, I don’t know. It’s just one event, and the owner admits she showed poor judgment. Maybe this event will snap the kid’s parents outa whatever effed up delusion they’re living in and jump-start em on a productive path of good parenting. Like, caring for their child (and others!!) enough to proactively prevent people from yelling at them. And their kid.Report

  15. Avatar Miss Mary says:

    I love reading your stuff in other places, but I get all warm and fuzzy seeing you and the doc at the league. Thanks for leaving the breadcrumbs! Great stuff 🙂 xoReport