I’m a big fan of a good Facebook fight. You know how it goes: somebody posts an article or even just a status, and it predictably (or even better yet, unpredictably) sparks a flurry of poorly thought out and even more poorly written responses and it’s all fun and games until someone’s feelings get hurt…inevitably followed by someone feeling uncomfortable with the hurt feelings and trying to patch it up.
It’s real good fun. Sometimes I’ll add something snarky just to stir the pot a little more, but more often I’m content to just sit back, pop some popcorn, and observe the carnage. And, of course, judge.
Recently enough, one of my FB friends posted the following blurb about a couple who brought a crying baby into a $256/seat restaurant in Chicago.
Ninety-seven comments later (I am not exaggerating), I counted 16 comments each for and against bringing kids to a fancy restaurant, and the other 61 ranging from jokes to insults, apologies, and more insults, including unapologetic pot shots at the likes of Michelle Bachman and Nickelback. Not even the chef’s beardy thing was spared (I may have “liked” that comment…).
My takeaway? Man, a lot of people can’t stand children. Or at the very least are disturbingly indifferent towards them. And that’s a shame.
Seems to me there’s something about getting too bothered by kids showing up in your “has to be perfect” settings that says maybe you have gotten too full of yourself for your own good.
I could imagine them thinking, “I’ll be damned if your kid interrupts my $256 smear of pâté–just make sure he’s paying my social security in 25 years!” I thought to myself, “A people shall be judged by how it treats its most helpless… Is that a quote?” And I was pleased by yet another reminder of the rare combination of wisdom and wit with which God blessed me above all others.
Shortly thereafter, I got a text from my brother: “Kids or no kids at Super Bowl bash?” And immediately, I’m annoyed. Kids? At our Super Bowl party? Lame. Whose kids are these, anyway? Ugh. I can’t stand watching football with non-fans (which I find are most people, actually, even those who claim to be fans), much less with people who are so non-fan that they would dare encroach my viewing space with their mini annoyances. Because no real fan would bring a kid to watch a football game they cared about. What could be worse than having to suffer through a kid-friendly Super Bowl “party”?
True story. And it wasn’t until I sat down to write this that I was struck by the irony, and then, less amusingly so, by my own hypocrisy. I realized I was more than happy to judge “the 1%” if they exiled baby-toting parents from their hoity toity restaurant and subsequently label them baby-haters. Yet I couldn’t bear the thought of risking, what, the newest Bud Light marketing campaign? Whoever’s doing this year’s token overhyped halftime “show”? Lame-ass football commentary from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman? Richard Sherman’s post-game interview? Ok, I admit I am looking forward to that.
Suffice it to say, I was wrong to judge these Facebookers as baby-haters, unless I am ready to call myself one. Which I’m not. But is has caused me to reflect upon what it is that causes people, myself included, to be so quick to exclude children (and yes, that often means their parents, too) from my own little world. And, better yet, to think about what I can do to be more helpful and supportive of parents.
Here’s one idea: remember my Facebook friend who posted the aforementioned article? At the end of the comments she actually offered to babysit for her friends so that they could go out and enjoy a nice dinner. What a nice gift, which benefits not only the parents themselves but then also for the other patrons of the restaurant.
And what about that Super Bowl bash? So you don’t want your buddy’s mini-me to paint the walls with guacamole or faceplant on the remote during a Percy Harvin kickoff return? Be creative. Help out the parents by setting up a couple bedrooms, one where kids can play or watch movies and one for naps. It’s not like these kids want to watch football–that’s for much more mature and sophisticated adults like you and me…
Anyway, whether kids should be welcomed at nice restaurants or not really isn’t the point, and, frankly I’m glad I don’t have to decide such things. What I think is more important is that we all try to do what we can, regardless of the situation, to support those who have undertaken the monumental–and venerable–task of raising children.
So the next time you encounter a couple of strangers and their screaming terror interrupting your peace (and there will be a next time), consider giving them the benefit of the doubt, and maybe even a smile. Yes, they might actually be narcissistic and masochistic and terrible parents to boot. But they also might just be having a bad day… which I hear tends to happen every once and a while when you have kids. It won’t kill you, and it might be just what the couple needs.