In the wake of a Nelson café owner banning children under 12 from his café, we thought it was appropriate to resurrect this opinion piece from Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes, who had last year had it with the tired moral outrage over kids with the temerity to be out in public.
OPINION: Another week, another story about a cafe manager getting upset at crying babies (Edit: my mistake, the cafe manager was upset that the babies were happy). Next week it'll be the same. It's as reliable as a shark on the front page over New Year's.
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And what will follow will be hundreds of online comments seething at the audacity of children and their mothers existing in public. Each story will be shared with breathless rage. All of the stories definitely happened.
"I was at a cafe once and this kid just walked up and pissed all over the cabinet food! Then when I really respectfully asked his mother if she could please stop her child urinating on everyone, the mum pulled out a she-wee and she started pissing too!"
"I was at a play at midnight and this antenatal group came in with 167 children and they stormed the stage and beat the actors to death with copies of Emily Writes' book Rants in the Dark available in all good bookstores!"
"I was at a restaurant eating chips that cost $34 and then this baby walked in and just screamed in my ear so hard I burst an ear drum. When I tried to stop the baby the mum shoved a razor sharp dummy in my ear and told me to go f**k myself."
You've all seen it. The stories are all ridiculous and boring. The truth is stretched so hard it's amazing these moaners don't need ACC support for their injuries.
A child was heard instead of just seen: better have a word to mum, tell her to finish the only meal she'll get to have out of her house this month and tell her to leave. But how do you do it while still making sure you get that sweet parenting dollar?
I can tell you. Start with social media. You need to do a Facebook status update. And you need to use the formula. Start with:
We are a family friendly cafe!
Yes, that term is utterly meaningless when you turf out mothers for having babies who inconsiderately act like babies. But use it anyway. Mostly it's fine to say you hate kids, but it's better for business to slightly disguise your disdain for children. So point out that you're family friendly and you have a "toy corner". This makes it clear that it's the mums who are to blame (never the dads, they get free blow jobs for going to a cafe with their children) because you provided a toy corner and their child still willfully acted like a child.
Every other parent was fine, just not this one.
This appeals to special good parents who think their child doesn't ever cry and doesn't ever have emotions or feelings and doesn't ever get overwhelmed in public. These good parents need to pretend that every other parent is a bad parent because then they can ignore just how f**ked it is to attack mothers for leaving the house with their kids.
Children aren't all sunshine, OK?
This one is important, it dehumanises children just enough. Not so much that you can't still get the odd takeaway coffee bought by their parents, but just enough to put the blame on parents who think their children are human beings. It's a great reminder in a country that has one of the highest rates of abuse and neglect of children that children need not be considered cherished and precious. Especially in cafes! Those idiotic parents gazing at their brand new baby, a literal miracle, need to be reminded that children are just inconsiderate crotch nuggets. They are just disgusting breeders, their children are noisy spawn etc etc etc. Build community? What we need more of in this country is a general attitude of distaste for children.
Parents need to control their children.
Vital, this point. You need to ensure you get at least 100 comments from people without children whose last interaction with a child involved them complaining that there were too many kids at the Finding Dory 10am session. You need to really rile up grandparents who see their grandkids once a year and spend the entire time complaining that in their day children didn't speak or make noise until they were 11. You need to call on all the brand new parents who have been parenting for eight seconds and are sure that children don't make more noise than a gentle mewling for milk. You need to enlist parents of teenagers who refuse to speak to them so they can spew their rage at the world onto other parents.
Control is the magic word for all of this. Never mind that it's absurd to believe you can "control" a three month old child crying in a cafe, and in any case the mum is going to be so traumatised by this happening she'll be out like a flash. Never mind that they believe a child yelling hello to a waitress is the equivalent of shitting in the middle of the table. Ignore that. Just troll with control.
Don't worry about telling the truth.
Never let the truth get in the way of good moral outrage at mothers and children. A few minutes of a baby crying while her mum desperately tries to quiet her turns into "the baby screamed for hours and hours and the mum just took selfies of her tits and drank tequila". None of these stories that people come up with pass the sniff test. Any mother of a small baby knows crying in public is stressful. You feel like everyone is watching you (and often they are and they're sneering at you), you don't want your baby to be stressed but you're desperate to leave the house, and you are trying to balance it all with naps and feeds and playgroups and every other pressure. Toddlers are just as hard: they run, they get excited, they get overwhelmed. Four and five year olds are better behaved but they can still be suddenly tired out of nowhere or devastated beyond belief that the muffin is blueberry and not strawberry.
Mums are easy targets. You can post anything about mums and people will agree that they're awful, and just need to set boundaries, and just need to know their kids aren't special, and just need to stay inside, and just need to not be in public.
So go ahead. Humiliate some mother who goes out once a fortnight with the only group of friends she has right now her antenatal group or coffee group. Target some lonely mum whose entire social interaction for the week is asking you for a flat white please. Get shitty because a child got too excited because they're out with their mum who usually has to work all week.
Or you could try something else - consider a different view? Maybe the mum of the child who is crying has been crying this morning too. Maybe her child has reflux and she doesn't know what to do and she's exhausted and she just wants to be a normal person in a cafe for half an hour. Maybe her child is just excited because going to a cafe with mum is a special thing they'll remember forever. Maybe she had to save for a week for this one coffee and she'd like to drink it without you scowling at her waiting for her child to cry so you can bitch about it?
Maybe she has as much right to be in the cafe as you do, and you need to shut the f**k up. Because we all put up with you loudly talking about how you don't like kale as much as spinach.
I'm not even going to do the whole 'I know some mums use their buggies as weapons of mass destruction' thing because it's pointless. So a mum once didn't revere you enough by asking you to move aside while she pushed a buggy with two upset children in it, so what? Can you just deal with it like a normal person and not turn it into a never ending victim complex that forces you to bring it up at every opportunity? Do you know how many times I have to deal with drunk a**holes when I want to take my kids out in the evenings to see a fireworks display? Or how many times I have to deal with hipster fu**heads at children's movies who try to shush kids when IT IS A F**ING CHILDREN'S MOVIE.
I once went to an Easter egg hunt and a bunch of adults without kids tried to enter it then complained of discrimination when they were told they couldn't. Adults are awful. You know this, and I know this. Yet children who are learning always get a raw deal and adults don't.
All we every hear about are kids on planes but God knows men who take off their shoes on planes are worse. And so are women who mix their prescription pills with wine on a plane. Or twentysomethings who leave the sound on their phones so I have to listen to every tap.
All of these people are worse than a crying child.
Children have to learn how to act in cafes and restaurants and public places. The way they learn is being in cafes and restaurants and public places. So consider that next time you, a grown adult, has a rage seizure about a child singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in your presence. You are part of a community and children have a right to exist in the world. Just as you do even if you're a literal hamburger made of assholes.
And to cafes and restaurants: just do us a favour and declare yourself "un-family friendly". Parents don't want to be in a place where their kids will be treated like they're sub-human. We don't want to be where we are not wanted. Just stop trying to have it both ways.
You don't get our money while you insult our children and our parenting. It might be easy to do, but we see you. And your lattes are shit anyway.
Emily Writes is the editor of Spinoff Parents.