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Author: Kevin Six

Neighborhood: Kearny Mesa/Mission Valley

Age: 46

Occupation: Actor/playwright

Okay, people, say what you want about other people’s children. Sometimes they’re noisy, often they’re misbehaved, and sometimes it’s even the parent’s fault. But unless the child is being abused, you have no right to speak harshly to them or their parents.

This happened to me on Friday. Twice. One was an adult who yelled at children in Borders and another was a woman yelling at a mother at Stu Segal’s Studio Diner. Both adults were in the wrong. One of them got a serious dressing-down by me, and the other deserved one but my girlfriend practically sat on me in the restaurant to keep me in my seat.

First, the A-hole in Borders:

There were two moms with children eating and having drinks in the café next to the magazine section in the Mission Valley Borders. These kids were actually really cute. They were rambunctious, a little loud, and wandering away from their mothers, but in no way were they disturbing anyone — including me, who had to dodge one of them on the way back from getting cream.

Out of the blue, this man stands up and says to the children, loudly and with frustration: “Okay, that’s enough, you need to settle down, now!” Then he got up and went to the counter.

I asked the women if this man was related to them or the children, and when they said “No,” I was on my way to confront this A-hole who had shut down two little girls for laughing and talking about a birthday they were going to attend.

Understand, I wanted to speak calmly, forcefully, and respectfully to this guy, but it came out wrong. So much so that I may have said a few words loudly enough for the children to hear. Words such as, “You A-hole” and “bust you in the chops.”

If I had it to do over again, I’d have told the guy that children have the right to have fun, even in a café, and people who don’t like children should not go to cafés at 10:30 a.m. Most importantly, no one has the right to take away a child’s happiness.

That was breakfast. At dinner, there was a child screaming in Studio Diner. The exchange lasted about two minutes. In this case, the mother was the A-hole, but it was one of the other diners I wanted to throttle. The mother said, “Alright, that’s enough, we’re going,” and didn’t respond after the child tearfully and heart-breakingly apologized seven times, each apology louder than the first.

Then a purple-faced, irate woman tromped over to the table where the woman, her mother, and two children were getting ready to leave and yelled, “Your children are ridiculous! This is ridiculous! I teach preschool for 23 children, and none of them act this bad.” She said a few more things, but I was too busy trying not to bolt out of my seat to hear it.

Then the mother followed the purple-faced, irate woman back to her table, where the irate woman sat with the parents — who, ostensibly, taught Irate that it is okay to behave like this in public — and the mother said, “My children are not ridiculous. They are two and three, and we’re having a bad day. You know nothing about my life and what I’m going through.”

Then all hell broke loose. The purple-faced irate woman and her parents all shouted at the same time. A couple of elderly, sour-faced women also took up the cause of children being loud in restaurants.

I was dying to stand in the center of this, and with my trained voice rising above all the idiots in the room, shout, “Attention, intolerant people! If you don’t like children making noise in restaurants, do not go to a diner at 7 p.m.” But just as I was having this thought, Jennie decided to come sit by me.

A woman who teaches preschool talks like that to the mother of two toddlers? In front of those kids and their grandmother? I was dying to find out the name of the preschool and the teacher who, if she spoke with one percent of the animosity to any of the parents there, would be fired from that school.

And the parents of the purple-faced, loud, irate woman yelling in support of their horrible daughter…?

People! Children are loud. The kid screamed and apologized. It took all of two minutes! Get over it!

Mother of that child: accept your child’s apology, and speak soothingly to him.

Irate woman with purple face: you are lucky that I did not type a letter to your supervisor and every parent of the preschool that made the mistake of hiring you.

Irate woman’s parents: really? You deserve the daughter you have and all the hell that follows.

Cranky old ladies: if I were the manager, I would have picked up the check, comped your meal, and asked you to leave and never return. Same with the irate woman and her parents.

Guy in the coffee shop: had you physically hurt those children — instead of emotionally, as you did — it would have been my distinct pleasure to punch you. Four or five times. You are lucky that I was whisked out of Borders.

Everyone else in the world: children make noise. Children are allowed to have fun and be loud about it. People who yell at their children are bad, but people who yell at other people’s children are worse. And people who yell at parents in front of children are the worst of all. Let’s all just let the children be loud for the time it takes the parents to get them out of the way.

Oh, and if you are someone doing horrible things to children in front of me (and Jennie’s not around), please note that I am left-handed, and that’s most likely where the slap that you so richly deserve will come from.

Thank you.

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Comments

Altius May 2, 2011 @ 4:57 p.m.

Kevin and Railsplitter, you both have helped restore my faith in humanity. I have a bunch of kids who are well-behaved but, nonetheless, still kids. I've never had anyone like Purple Face or Grumpy Borders Guy say anything, but I've felt the hostility and gotten some looks before. It's good to know that there are people out there who don't mind, and in fact enjoy, the sight and sound of kids being kids. Thanks.

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Reader_reader May 2, 2011 @ 7:12 p.m.

Wasn't aware that kids were drinking coffee these days. I woulda guessed a coffeeshop would be a relatively kid-free zone, regardless of the time.

I'm not a big fan of noisy children. So, if I can't go to a cafe at 10:30am, and I can't go to a diner at 7pm, then, pray tell, when can I go?

Incidentally, I'm not a big fan of noisy adults either. I can only hope that Guy in the Coffee Shop and Purple-Faced Irate Woman feel equally compelled to yell at adults speaking too loudly on their cell phones.

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nan shartel May 3, 2011 @ 1:07 p.m.

Kevin Six

kids will be kids...but teaching a kid to behave in a more reasonable polite way in public is always a good thing...without bad language or a threatening posture on the parents part

screaming kiddies in an eating establishment is only acceptable for kids under 5... after that they should be learning to not behave that way...that's for fast food drive thrus...or no special outside special eat outs at all

u know that "not rewarding bad behavior" thingie Dr Phil is always talking about

for many a morning or an evening outing at an eatery is a sacrifice on limited funds...screaming rowdy kids with no disciplinarian on board and kids with no boundaries (the table hoppers) ruin an otherwise nice idea

altho a feisty toddler who engages me with coos and smiles wins my affection every time ;-D

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Robert Johnston May 3, 2011 @ 3:39 p.m.

Yo, Kevin.

Usually, if I am confronted with "out of control" tykes, I just mosey along and MMOB. The only way I say anything is if they are being destructive to store property.

Oh, you might want to think about something here:

Taking a swing at someone whom you feel is "out of line" in regard to adult/child relations may be gratifying...but the gratification stops when the cops snap the steel bracelets on your wrists and haul you off to the County Jail on Assault and Simple Battery charges.

Or-- Your "corrective action" ends up with you laid-out-and-bloody in the back of an ambulance, headed for the local Emergency Department after you get your lights punched out for your shenannigans.

This situation should never, ever, escalate to employing physical force, unless the child is in danger of being struck or abducted. Other than that--there is no justification for violent action here.

Some food for thought. --LPR

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rickeysays May 4, 2011 @ 1:47 p.m.

Kevin, you and anyone who thinks like you are friggin idiots who make this society suck! The big problem with a free society is that everyone gets to do whatever they want, which means we all live at the mercy of the lowest common denominator. On the road, we all go as fast as the slowest car in front of us. At the movies, we enjoy the movie as much as the rudest viewer allows. And in restaurants, we're at the mercy of the parent who decided that, because THEY wanted to get out of the house, WE all get to listen to kids screaming and running around. I wouldn't go sit in the middle of the playground and expect quiet. But I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation in a restaurant or coffeeshop. But no. People's attitude is, "This is what I want to do, and while I don't wish to disturb you, TOO BAD because I'm going to do what I want. Once upon a time, politeness dictated that one behaved in public in such a way as to not disturb those around you. Now the rule is, let's see how much you can put up with.

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SurfPuppy619 May 4, 2011 @ 3:55 p.m.

Spoken like a true grouch, or is it grinch?

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Rabid_Koala May 19, 2011 @ 10:27 p.m.

Rickey, all I have to say is Amen, brother!

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nan shartel May 20, 2011 @ 1:49 p.m.

guess what Rickeysays

children behaving nicely is a good thing

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Rabid_Koala May 19, 2011 @ 10:27 p.m.

Kevin, what you fail to take in to account is that there are other people paying to be in the restaurant, etc. who are entitled to quiet enjoyment of it. So you decide to be the advocate for the spoiled brat who thinks they are entitled to do whatever they please, and for the lethargic parent who can't be bothered to take responsibility for their child(ren)? You are advocating the proliferation of inconsiderate jerks, both young and old.

Having been a parent of young children, I can tell you that it takes some work to get them used to being in public places without being insufferable little brats, but the work is worth it. The kids learn how to behave, and all are being considerate of each other. If you want to let your kid run wild, go to a playground or Chuck E Cheese. There is a time and a place for everything, loud children in restaurants are just obnoxious.

I hope your little tantrum about those who dare tell children to behave, or tell their parents to make them behave made you feel better, because to me it sounded like the rantings of yet another spoiled child.

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nan shartel May 20, 2011 @ 1:51 p.m.

there r times and places 4 children to behave wildly...and restaurants aren't one of them

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SurfPuppy619 May 20, 2011 @ 5 p.m.

I can tell you that it takes some work to get them used to being in public places without being insufferable little

Well, believe it or not I am STILL a brat in public places.

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Russ Lindquist May 25, 2011 @ 8:22 a.m.

I first read Other People's Children in the magazine, before searching for the version here online. It is nice to see a generally decent back-and-forth in the comment-section.

My contribution is this: Perhaps, Kevin, it is too much fantasy script-writing (with imaginary, implausible consequences) which causes you to believe that you actually will be able to punch, yell and letter-write your way to enthroning yourself as overlord of social-environments. Nevertheless, Kevin, as an aged playwright, it will be quite limited, your ability to rule--with an iron fist--those social environments with which you disagree.

Kevin, I have five children; mine are all well-behaved, so I would never be a target of yours for the reasons stated in your article. However, I have decades of experience in defense-based martial-arts; and just so you understand more of the real world: if someone like me sees someone like you escalating words--however bad--into blows then we incapacitate you, and you wait to be arrested for assault. So save your blind and petty rage for the stage. The world is not an 80's movie, and children are not well-served to see violence, not even if it is supposedly on their behalf.

I, too, am intolerant of insensitive parents; however, you Kevin--the violent enemy of my enemy--are not my friend either.

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Joaquin_de_la_Mesa June 2, 2011 @ 1:54 p.m.

Rickey,

You have a right to peace and quiet in your own home. As soon as you're outside of your home, you have no such right.

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