If You’re Too Young to Flush the Toilet…

kid on toiletI’ve been trying to be more understanding about children in coffee shops lately.  Really, I have.  I know it’s unhealthy to sit around thinking so many homicidal thoughts, and for all I know, they’re living with a grandmother afflicted by Alzheimer’s as well.  Maybe they have work to do: coloring books to fill, patrons to terrorize, germs to spread, etc.  Maybe the coffee shop is their refuge, you know: for those times when story hour at the library gets too stressful.  Technically speaking, they’re paying customers— they have every right to be here—but today’s adventure truly takes the cake.

I’m sitting at my laptop minding my own business when I hear the mother say to her adult companion, “Hang on a sec, I hear her trying to open the door.”

She’s referring, of course, to her daughter—the very same child who I first encountered a few weeks ago when she was twirling around the railing on the steps into the coffee shop with nary a chaperone in sight.  She later threw a fit when her mother “ruined” her bagel by removing some of the cream cheese and this time she’s locked herself in the bathroom on the opposite end of the coffee shop.

The mother gets up and heads down to the bathroom.  She rescues her daughter but doesn’t bother to ensure that her daughter has completed the normal post-bathroom rituals of… you know… flushing the f*cking toilet or throwing away the wad of paper towels she’s used to dry her hands.

I know this because I have to go the bathroom now, and I’m greeted by the site of wet toilet paper, wet paper towels and—this is the best part—a bowl full of someone else’s excrement.

As I flush the toilet, I start fuming.

And I start designing a new t-shirt in my head… something along the lines of “If you’re too young to flush your own sh*t, YOU DON’T BELONG IN A COFFEE SHOP!”

(Followed by “If you’re too irresponsible to ensure that your offspring has flushed his or her sh*t, YOU SHOULDN’T BE A PARENT!”

And we’re not even done yet.

Oh no.

Little-Miss-Junior-Frappucino is wearing slip-on high heels.  With feathers.  The kind that strippers and Victoria’s Secret models wear.  And as if that isn’t bad enough, she is goose-stepping around the coffee shop slapping her stupid heels against the hardwood floor and her mother isn’t saying a DAMN THING!

Now I’m all about shoes that make noise, in fact I’ve spent about $800 on tap shoes over the past year or so, but percussive dance has a time and place and that place is NOT the coffee shop.

I think I’m going to try a new approach.  I think I’m going to start carrying around brochures for the children’s tap class I teach around the corner.  And I’m going to start giving them out with polite suggestions that TAP CLASSES comprise a more appropriate form of amusement for children than COFFEE SHOPS.

It’s either that or a license to carry fire arms…

And believe it or not, this story still isn’t even finished.

27 Responses to “If You’re Too Young to Flush the Toilet…”

  1. Katie

    That would seriously give me an eye twitch. I hate to be this person. I do. But here’s the thing:

    There are grownup places, and there are kid places. This is a fact. And it’s unfortunate that grownups who have kids often seem to forget this fact. They don’t remember what it was like before they had kids and actually were able to enjoy peace, quiet, and a nice outing. Instead, they decide they can still have “grown-up time” — that having a kid doesn’t have to change anything. Except it does. For EVERYONE else. It’s flabbergasting, really. If I go to McDonalds or a 3:00 matinee of a cartoon movie, I don’t complain if there are kids. These are kid places. But coffee shops, nice restaurants (and even nicer-ish chains after 6:00 p.m.,) late movies (and ANY movies for kids who can’t hold their own heads up), etc. should be off limits to kids who are out of control and parents who can’t — or worse, won’t — control them.

  2. becky119

    Well the flyers would be easier to get a hold of…getting a permit to carry in Philadelphia is kind of a pain in the ass. 😉

  3. Jill

    I wonder, with sadness, if this child is EVER taken to the public library, for story hour or anything else.

  4. Landlord

    I was always so concerned about how your (and TS) behavior affected others, since Tech Support was the more vocal of the two and messier while eating, we always asked for back corners, etc. AND if the volume exceeded appropriate levels, one of us would exit the building w/the offending child. And running around? No, no, no, running is for outside, at a play date in someone’s house or at classes for physical movement. If moms want to get together and sit for a while over coffee and tea, and allow the kids to run around, do that at home. If young parents want to go to a coffee shop to get “out”, fine but do so with awareness that there are others doing the same thing, and THEY aren’t affecting your pleasure, so why is it okay for you to do so?

    It really is about the society we live in, I’m not saying kids should be seen and not heard, I enjoy a little child singing or reading aloud or asking cute questions, just not incessantly or at decibels that are annoying. It seems as though the whole, “I can do it all,” also means including your children in what may become inappropriate activities and outings. I notice a lot of parents unprepared for junior’s behavior (which I am sure is not the only time they act this way) No soft toys, books, healthy treats, etc. Or a parent willing to step outside for 5 minutes to “deal.”

    Now this is where this is going to turn into a rant…just the other day I was at a department store, and a little girl was whining because she didn’t get her toy, to which the usual back and forth ensued and finally the kid got her toy…2 weeks before XMAS?????? I don’t think so…One of my college friends told me about her method for getting through the grocery store with her little ones (so I could replicate it), buy them a balloon each time, it will distract them and make it easier to get the chore done. Now I hadn’t been a mother for long, but that just didn’t sit right with me. Of course parent’s use bribery, but for everything????

    Sure it is embarrassing when your child acts up in public, but just deal with it as if no one is looking, it will be over before you know it, repeating a firm no, takes a lot less time than back and forth negotiating. And it is easier to listen to…And it teaches them limits…which you will be grateful for when they are teenagers and beyond. They will be the ones that people will want to give internships to, will want to hire and ultimately be happier because they can be responsible for themselves, while being compassionate & courteous human beings.

    It is sad and I know I sound really old, but courtesy has left the building.

    • Philly Tap Teaser

      Ha! I think we posted at the same time with almost the same ideas.

    • jlillymoon

      Have you seen the tee shirt or the e card or whatever that says that I worry about a country that will be lead by people who are given trophies for showing up?

      • becky119

        @Landlord–now I don’t personally have any kids yet, but I COMPLETELY agree with what you’re saying. (You actually sound like you share the same philosophies as my Mom). Bribery works up to a point, but it is just the same as when you’re training your dog. If you use treats and reward the dog every time it sits or stays, what are you going to do when you don’t have a treat on hand? How will you get your kid to behave if you have no bribe. I feel like parenting has gone wayyyyy downhill in the past couple of years.
        Earlier in the week I was walking to the bank and there was a guy holding a little girl and he had two older (kindergarten age) kids trailing behind him. My first thought was, aw, a daddy out with his kids, and look, they’re following him like little ducks. Then the light turned green and everyone started to cross the street and his kids started running and fell down in the middle of JFK Blvd. Did he stop and pick up his kid? No…a complete stranger helped his kid back on his feet while the dad stood by yelling. Good job. The sad thing is how very often I see things like that happen.

      • becky119

        I saw a funny cartoon the other day. It was something along the lines of, don’t yell at your kids. Instead lean close and whisper the threats in their ears–it is much scarier. lol

    • Mary Lynn

      My 23-year-old son and I were talking about this the other day, and agreed that one of the problems is that parents are too anxious to be their four-year-old’s friend instead of being his or her parent.

      When my sons were small, I assumed that it was my job to help them learn to become decent and civil human beings. To that end, I set a limited number of clear boundaries:

      1. “no” means “no”, not “maybe” or “if you whine long enough I’ll cave;”
      2. “please”, “thank you”, and “excuse me” are required elements of human interaction;
      3. hitting and name-calling are ALWAYS off-limits;
      4. you only get to ask Santa for three things (although you may get some surprises, too);
      5. I will take you to the theater/symphony/art gallery/restaurant with tablecloths only when you can sit still/stay quiet/appreciate food that is not hamburger/ and otherwise behave in a way that is appropriate to the occasion.

      (NOTE: It’s important to set these boundaries when they are smaller than you; you can’t carry at 14-year-old out of a restaurant).

      Now that they’re adults, there are a few things I can say about this method:

      1. My sons are really nice adults.
      2. Although I’m still their mom, now I’m also their friend.

    • Katie

      Love this. It’s almost like parents are afraid to discipline nowadays! My mom always “got it over with,” and we were all — her, me, and the general public — better off for it. 🙂

  5. Philly Tap Teaser

    I totally don’t agree that there are “grownup only” places, but I do agree that if you bring kids to places that require a certain sort of behavior, then you have to be responsible for their behavior and not be an asshole about it. I’ve had my share of kid meltdowns in public places, but when they happened, we made apologetic faces and made a hasty exit, if necessary. If an exit isn’t necessary, we correct them and demand acceptable behavior. For my kids, highbrow coffee shops or restaurants are a treat. We don’t go often, so they get excited when we go and get cupcakes or dinner or whatever. They want to behave so that they can get their sugar fix. (Hey, whatever works). Or, you bring them to these places and bring lots of busy entertainment – toys, crayons, books, etc.

    I have to laugh at the toilet flushing thing. Violet is almost 7 years old and will not flush the toilet in our house, (although she does elsewhere). When she was three, Callie was just born and I was home on maternity leave with both of them, doing a million things. She went to the bathroom and flushed the toilet like 5 times without it draining, so my bathroom flooded. Then my ceiling started to leak profusely. Then the drywall in the ceiling cracked and whole pieces crashed to the floor. All while I’m home alone with a screaming newborn. I guess my reaction caused her to never want to flush our toilet again without supervision. LOL. Hope she grows out of that!

    • Katie

      Really? You don’t think nice restaurants with bars or late rated R movies are for adults only? When I hear a baby crying at an 8p.m. Adult movie, I not only feel sorry for myself, but especially for the parents who actually sprang for a sitter that night. It’s not that I don’t like kids. I just don’t like kids on my dates. 🙂

      • Katie

        Um. And I totally didn’t mean to capitalize “adult.” That was my phone. I wasn’t talking about that kind of movie. 😉

        • Philly Tap Teaser

          There’s common sense involved, sure. I guess I thought we were talking about public places which weren’t exactly 5 star restaurants but required a certain level of decorum. Like quiet coffeeshops, some shopping establishments, restaurants that don’t have kids’ menus. To be honest, we don’t go very many places at all, but when we do go out, the kids come with us. We don’t have the means for a babysitter, except for very special occasions. I think it’s easy to tsk-tsk this mom in question for letting her kid run amok. Before I had kids and I used to visit my high-energy nephews, I fell into many of the same traps. Then, I had my own kids, and karma came back to bite me.

          • Katie

            I totally understand what you’re saying. (And for the record, I fully would expect karma to bite me if I ever decide to have kids — except it wouldn’t really be karma, just the trials of having kids — which is probably why I’m terrified of doing it!) But still. It drives me crazy when parents say they don’t have the “means” for a babysitter. Does that mean you can’t afford it? Because if you can’t afford one but can still go out to a restaurant without a kid’s menu, I just don’t buy it. That’s like when people say they can’t afford to tip. If you can’t afford to tip, then you can’t afford to dine out. And if parents can’t afford a sitter, then I’m not sure why that qualifies them to take their kids out to disturb the evenings of those who did manage to spring for the sitter. Say, for example, you and your husband saved up for a babysitter and planned a nice, adult evening. Would you be thrilled if the person next to you had a loud child? Or someone brought a crying baby to the theater? Of course, I also see incredibly well-behaved kids when we go out — better behaved than some adults sometimes — and that doesn’t bother me at all. So I guess if you KNOW you can trust your kids to behave, none of this applies. And I don’t know… I’m still going to maintain that coffee shops should have atmospheres closer to that of a library than a McDonald’s play area. Sure, there’s the bustling energy of the baristas and busy folks on their way to work, but that’s easy to tune out if you’re trying to work. But a kid running around, screaming, not flushing toilets… I don’t know. If moms want to get together for coffee, have one pick up the S-bucks and enjoy it in the comfort of your neighborhood park – a kid place. 🙂

            • Philly Tap Teaser

              Yes, it means that I can’t afford a babysitter plus dinner for my entire family. Does that mean I should be shackled to my house until my kids turn 18? Just saying, not trying to cause more of an argument. Frankly, we don’t go anywhere “nice” to eat, (Chili’s is as exciting as it gets for us). However, if I was in a situation where a kid was screaming at the next table while my husband and I were out alone at dinner, I wouldn’t bat an eye, because I’ve been there. I’d actually wish that my kids also were there to enjoy such a nice, fancy meal with us. I’m just in a different place.

  6. awindram

    My nearest global tax avoiding chain coffee shop seems to be overrun with suburban teens at present. What particularly irritates me is that they take over a number of tables, but then don’t actually buy anything in the coffee shop. In fact, they often bring in fast food. They’re just there for the free wi-fi.

    • Kat Richter

      My God that is obnoxious! I used to go to this vegan coffee shop a lot and on Saturday mornings, the hipsters would roll in around 11am and take over all of the tables. They’d usually buy one item between the ten or twelve of them and then sit there for hours talking about anarchy and how unemployment was better than working for the man. I think the only thing that bugs me more or at least as much as unruly kids and irresponsible parents in coffee shops is wannabe anarchists who can’t find it within themselves to actually SUPPORT their local vegan coffee shop… I am sorry to hear that yours has been overrun. Maybe if you give them nasty stares they will just leave? I spend a lot of time enjoying free wi-fi but I also buy expensive drinks and leave good tips.


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