February 13, 2012
Editor’s Note: Carole Townsend, a correspondent for the Daily Post, is writing a blog called “Food for Thought.” It is available online at http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/townsend.
I was having lunch with a friend last week, at one of the restaurants near the Mall of Georgia. We hadn’t seen each other in a very long time, and I was really looking forward to catching up. We intentionally met around 1:30, toward the end of the lunch rush, so that we could converse and take our time without holding up a waiter’s table.
Once seated, the little girl in the booth behind me began plying peek-a-boo, as little ones will do. She was adorable and tired quickly of the game, moving on to something more exciting: jumping in the booth like she was on a trampoline. Her mother didn’t say a word as the bouncing continued. I tried to scoot first this way then that, to find a spot on my seat that wasn’t bouncing along with the toddler. After turning around a couple of times and looking at the mom as if to say, “Are you going to say something, or shall I?” she finally asked her daughter to stop bouncing.
She did stop, to her credit, but then she leaned far over the back of her booth and into ours and began coughing. She had worked up a sweat and was apparently sick, from the sound of the cough. I may have mentioned here before that I am a germaphobe, and one that gets worse by the year. It took everything I had not to whip out my spray hand sanitizer and coat the entire area with it, the child included.
My friend and I just looked at each other in disbelief. Mom was happily munching on her salad, completely oblivious to her daughter’s germ-spreading shenanigans. Again, a couple of glances shot in Mom’s direction, and she finally told her daughter to turn around and sit down.
Is it me, or are many parents entirely oblivious of others around them, especially in restaurants? My husband and I were recently having dinner in an Atlanta restaurant with some of our children, a rare treat now that they’re all practically grown. We were seated next to two families – all adults at one table and all their children at another. The kids ranged in age from, say 5 years old to maybe 10 years old. They were loud, throwing food, crawling around on the floor, running through the entire restaurant, and not once did any of the parents say a thing to them.
When our children were little and misbehaved in a restaurant, we simply removed them from the situation. As a result, restaurant scenes didn’t happen often even when they were very young. When my siblings and I were kids, we knew better than to even think about behaving that way in public. Going out to a restaurant was a treat, and we knew better than to rock that boat. My mother was short but fast, and she had no moral or ethical problem with corporal punishment.
It all boils down to manners and consideration for others, two things that are in short supply these days. Parents of young children, no one wants their (dining/shopping/fill in the blank) experience ruined by your little darlings. You may think Junior is a prodigy because he can shriek and shatter glass, but odds are, you’re the only one who feels that way. Well, maybe his grandparents do, too.
Just be aware of others; it'll become habit after a while. Does this oblivion seem to be a trend, or am I just hyper-sensitive to it?
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of the recently-released book, “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on radio shows nationwide.