An Open Letter to the Parents of the Baby Who Puked in Front of Me at Lunch

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Hi!

You don't know me, but we ate lunch at the same restaurant today. You seemed like very nice people, and your baby sure is adorable! I think she even smiled at me when I sat nearby.

Did you enjoy your meal? I certainly enjoyed mine -- until, that is, you picked up your baby from her car-carrier thingamajig, and she puked all over herself.

Now, the fact that your baby threw up didn't bother me. That babies puke, often without warning, I understand. It's an unfortunate coincidence that I happened to look up from my sandwich at the moment when milky glop started pouring from the poor little dear's piehole. I put my head down and tried to erase the image from my mind so that I could finish my sandwich.

What bothered -- what bothers -- me is that, after you cleaned the puke off your baby's face and shirt, you didn't bother looking around to see if, oh, I don't know, some of that puke might have landed on floor.

How do I know you didn't bother to look or didn't look hard enough? Because several minutes later, as you prepared to leave, I looked up to see a tendril of that milky puke strung between the bottom of your shoe and a spot of puke -- one of several -- on the floor.

It remained there after you left for someone else to clean up or track through the restaurant, maybe even into the food-preparation area!

Look: I'm not one of those curmudgeons who objects to the presence of babies and small children in restaurants. I couldn't do my job if I did! I dine at a restaurant almost every day of the week, sometimes twice a day, and more often than not there's at least one ankle-biter underfoot (underfoot sometimes literally, ankle-biter not -- at least not yet).

However, as someone who's seen far too many times how a cantankerous kid or the inevitable but not unclean-up-able mess babies tend to create can spoil someone else's meal, I feel compelled to remind you that your children are your responsibility, and their messes -- even in a restaurant where you've paid your own good money to dine -- belong to no one else.


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20 comments
Bbssdin1234
Bbssdin1234

You know what is gross at resturants? When idiots blow their nasty noses in the middle of the restuarants and pick at their nose with the napkin...write a story on that as long as we are having our period on what bugs us in society. 

Cleanitup
Cleanitup

I am a mom of 3 young children and I agree with you Ian.  Clean up your damn messes parents!  This particular situation has not happened to me (yet) but I would be mortified if it happened and a server had to clean up MY kid's vomit.  My kid, my mess.  Why is that hard to understand?  It is unfortunate that a-hole parents like these give the rest of us a bad name.

da
da

It is possible they didn't notice, but it is equally possible they did and simply didn't care became they think the stress of having a child entitles them to have other people clean up their child's messes in dining establishments and public places. The fact is both kinds of parents exist so I don't see the need to make up excuses for this particular pair. I once watched a mother watch her child smear an entire banana on the wall of a crowded subway train and not give one shit.

Partod
Partod

 Ian, you're right.

Guest
Guest

Ian, I usually enjoy your blog posts, but this one left a bad taste in my mouth.  (And not from what you're thinking.)  As someone already pointed out, the parents probably didn't notice the puke on the floor, since (a) if they have a baby of puking age they're probably also too sleep-deprived to be alert, and (b) they were busy trying to get the baby out of there as quickly as possible because the earth was not available to swallow them up.  (I have been that parent -- OK, not with the puke, but definitely with the baby and the humiliation because the baby will not be a perfect little diner.  And I have brought my kids up to love all kinds of food and tip generously, so I call it a net gain for society.)

guest
guest

I happen to be on your side, Ian, for what it is worth, which isn't much probably. People please, there are some persons out there that simply can not tolerate vomit on any level. I would throw up myself if I had to look at puke. My gag reflex simply can't tolerate it at any time ever. I never have been able to tolerate it. Have some sensitivities to those of us who simply seriously physically can't tolerate that stuff. 

Amanda
Amanda

I totally 100% agree with you. If I bring my dog to a restaraunt (outdoor patio, of course) and he hacks up god only knows what, or heaven forbid drops a deuce, I clean it up. If I didn't, the stares of disgust from other patrons would burn through my skin. I get it, babies make messes, but don't make those of us deal without child deal with the aftermath. 

Bob
Bob

Whether fine-dining or McDonald's, when you have a child, messes will be made. It is your duty (pun intended) as a parent to make sure that if there is a mess, beyond normal reason, all of it is cleaned before you dash. The wait staff, busser, host, maitre de, patrons, what-have-you, "Ain't yo baby's momma (or poppa, for you PC nuts out there)." This type of thing happens all the time and I don't think any of us want to be around when the service industry revolts (Jet Blue style) and starts crapping in our living rooms.

Fred
Fred

I'm with everyone else here. If this bugs you that much, vent it out to your fellow RFT staffers and move on. Just because you have a blog doesn't mean you need to recount everything that ever pissed you off in a restaurant. It makes you sound petty. How about doing more digging on new restaurants and foods (like you do with Eat This Now) and leave the whining to Chad. Those parents are most likely not reading this anyway.

Dan D.
Dan D.

 Ian,

So you stopped enjoying your meal at the puke, but it didn't bother you?  I would certainly give my best effort to clean up any vomit that I saw, and it certainly sounds like these people didn't give that same effort, but I don't think you're doing yourself any favors here.  

Plus, "ankle-biter" makes you sound like Grandpa Simpson.

metatron
metatron

what a crybaby! And not just a crybaby but a crybaby with a public forum! A newspaper job! They were eating at a public restaurant where they PAID for the food. Part of the cost of that food is for a restaurant employee to clean the restaurant!

Quelafack
Quelafack

wow someones having a bad day, or are you just an insensitive jack. Surely you've never done anything that caused other people grief and or time because you were so consumed with your own world filled with actual responsibilities like raising a f-n human being! She's nurturing life and your eating a sandwich.  Guess what?  That and many other inconviniences we'd wrather not experience tend to happen in this funny thing called life. 

JZ71
JZ71

Your standards are way too high, especially if this was fast-casual, fast or casual (not fine dining).  Or, more precisely, your expectations are way too high - whether it's cluelss parents, obnoxious teens, stuck-up yuppies or doddering elders, people of all ages are boors.  Restauranteurs shouldn't have to clean up after these fools, but, unfortunately, it's part of today's job description . . .

Megan
Megan

 Maybe they were even embarrassed to be the people in the restaurant with the puking baby and they just didn't notice the floor in their haste to depart. 

IanFroeb
IanFroeb

I know! I get *paid* for this! I can't believe it, either.

IanFroeb
IanFroeb

Perhaps I was unclear, but by "the fact that the baby threw up didn't bother me," I meant that I don't blame the baby. Babies make messes. I get it. As for the Grandpa Simpson quip, I concede the point. Or as the kids like to say: +1. But if I sound like an old fart, so be it. 

IanFroeb
IanFroeb

Being on the paying end of a business transaction doesn't absolve you of personal responsibility. I may pay for a beer at a bar, but that doesn't give me license to dump it over the head of the person sitting next to me.

But let me see if I understand you: If, say, a baby's diaper leaks at a restaurant table, the parents are within their rights to leave without attempting to clean it themselves or even alerting the restaurant staff that the accident has happened?

The sense of entitlement that people seem to think the mere act of purchasing something grants them is what I find truly galling.

Yes, of course a restaurant *will* clean whatever mess you left behind. That doesn't make your behavior acceptable, especially when other paying customers can and will suffer as a result of your lack of action.

At the very least, tell the restaurant's employees what has occurred. Unlike yours truly, who is paid to be a ranting asshole, they are likely to be understanding and, if you ask for a spray bottle of disinfectant or a mop and a bucket of bleach, might even tell you not to worry, that they'll clean it themselves.

Dan D.
Dan D.

 Give that man a harumph!

(I agree with your larger point, thanks for the clarification.)

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