Families have dined out on the public long enough
If the internet is to be believed — and I see no good reason why we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the internet — Facebook has become essential to staging a revolution. As the Web 2.0 (or are we up to 3.0?) commentators keep telling us, if you’re planning on toppling a dictatorial regime, then best first spruce up your Facebook profile.
But we in the West who already inhabit the sunny uplands of democracy haven’t been slouches when it comes to using Facebook to effect large scale social change. A case in point: I recently came across a Facebook group set up to fight the good fight against noisy children in restaurants.
I hadn’t previously noticed this scourge, but apparently restaurants across the nation have been overrun by parents. Even worse, these parents, many of whom would have you believe are responsible and upstanding members of society, have been thoughtlessly taking their children along with them.
You see them there trying to wedge their prams between tables, ruining the tasteful minimalist decor with nappy bags and an assortment of toys. Some restaurants even incite such poor behaviour by including ‘babycinos’ — a rather bland milk concoction I’m led to understand — on their menus.
The worst of it is that these children act like, well, children. They speak in what can only be called gibberish, scream and occasionally let fly with a tantrum. The worst of them are the two year olds, many of whom — and I kid you not — have the table manners of two year olds. They spill drinks and smear food on their own clothes and those of their parents.
Sure the parents often look mortified, try to hush their charges and occasionally beat a hasty retreat, but by then the damage has been done. Diners give up trying to enjoy their white wine jus and retreat instead to the sophisticated stylings of Sigur Ros on their iPods wishing, no doubt, that they had some Van Halen to block out the sounds of the screaming baby seated next to them.
It warms the cockles of my heart to finally see People Power in action; using Facebook to unite and fight for the basic human right of consuming your poached eggs with cured salmon and basil pesto and a soy latte without the disturbance of children.
But does it go far enough? Bring back the days where children were not seen in polite society. Or if it’s unavoidable, then threaten them with a beating so they dare not make a noise. In fact, locking them up for the first 15 years of their life might be a start.
And their mothers? Well naturally, they’ll need to be locked up with them as well.
The bleeding hearts will no doubt point out that this is going too far. They’ll point out that mothers are among the most socially isolated group in our society. Of course they’ll trot out some statistics to back this up, such as a 2007 survey conducted by Mother & Baby in the UK Magazine, that found that 53 per cent of new mothers report feeling ‘lonely and isolated’.
They’ll further note that mothers go to cafes to escape the four walls of their homes; that they need to feel like they are still part of society. And that with their self-esteem already battered by sleep deprivation, loss of social status from not earning and income, and the loss of control over their time and their bodies, the scorn of the anti-children brigade is almost too much to bear.
But then again, the bleeding hearts would say that, wouldn’t they? Many of them are parents, after all. And when it comes to children, parents are among the worst offenders.
The only solution to the spate of children in restaurants is to confine parents to their homes. On the upside, they won’t be entirely alone. They can always connect with each other on Facebook. I hear there are some really interesting groups on Facebook.
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