Dorian Hargrove 12:47 p.m., May 19
OK 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 sat nearly 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 cafe off 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 myself 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 in his voice: "OK, 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 already 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. Now, 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 like "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 cafe; people who don't like children should not go to cafes at 10:30 a.m.; and, 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 whole exchange lasted about two minutes. The mother was the a-hole in this case but it was one of the other diners I wanted to throttle. The mother said, "all right that's enough, we're going," and didn't respond after the child tearfully, sobbligly 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 an 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 them.
Then the mother followed the purple-faced, irate woman back to her table, where the irate woman sat with the parents who, ostensibly, taught her it was OK to behave like this in public and 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, say" "Attention intolerant people! If you don't like children making noise in restaurants, do not go to a diner at 7 PM!" But it was just as I was having this thought that 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 1% of the animosity to any of the parents there, would be fired from that preschool.
The parents of the purple-faced, loud, irate woman yelling in support of their horrible daughter?
Two old ladies who wagged their fingers at the manager and finagled free desserts?
People! Children are loud. The one kid screamed and apologized. It took 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 indeed 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: Rally? 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 like you did, it would have been my distinct pleasure to punch you. Four or five times. You are lucky indeed that I was whisked out of the Borders before you could say anything stupid.
Everyone else in the world: Children make noise. Deal with it. Children are allowed to have fun and be loud about it. People who yell at their children are bad but people who yell 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 you so richly deserve might come from.