Dear Rude Girl,
I heard you talking loudly about my daughter and her squeals of delight. How loud they were. How disruptive. How her parents just smile and laugh. I tried to ignore it, remembering the film ‘Friends with Kids’; how you don’t really appreciate children until you have them. I looked around. You and your friend were the only customers in the diner without children. We were the lucky family to have you seated next to ours.
We had been walking in the sunshine for most of the morning and into the afternoon. By 12.30 we found ourselves far from home and in need of some lunch. We passed up several restaurants and cafes that did not appear child friendly. When we came upon this one they were so willing to accommodate us, they moved us twice to have the right space for our son’s adaptive stroller and a high chair for our daughter. Did you know it was her first time in a high chair at a restaurant? Did you know our son has never sat in one, despite being offered one by staff every time we ate out? We were celebrating a new milestone, even if she wanted to eat the table instead of her toys. Everyone in the restaurant adored her. A little girl from a nearby table even ran over to pick up her toys, every time she threw them to the ground.
Everyone adored her, but you. I didn’t understand your loud, obnoxious comments because she wasn’t being as loud and obnoxious as you. She wasn’t screaming non-stop. She wasn’t crying or being disruptive in any way. She did squeal in delight a few times. And each time, you acted like it was The. Worst. Thing. Ever. The waitress asked if you wanted to move. Visibly disgusted, you still declined. Finally — when your friend told you, very loudly, that when she had a child, she would take her at age two to TGI Fridays and let her run around the restaurant screaming – I couldn’t sit quietly any longer. I should have recognised your ignorance then. Your twenty-something lack of experience. Your inability to leave your posh neighborhood (like I said, we had walked far from home) to find a restaurant without children in it. Our daughter is a baby. She isn’t two (and so what if she was?) She is learning what her voice sounds like and taking delight in it. She is not squealing to annoy you. In fact, thankfully, she doesn’t know you exist.
It was this third outburst from your table that I turned to you to ask if there was a problem. Despite your loud, rude, and harsh words, you didn’t think I would respond. You didn’t know that as a Mama, I am unafraid to speak up or get into your business — which had now become my business — when it involved my kids. Because I love them. Even if they are squealing with delight (or discomfort) while we are eating out. You were flustered and you played with your hair. I tried not to judge you, but it was difficult because you just kept being rude. When I told you it was a delight for us to hear our daughter’s squeals as our son isn’t able to talk. For us, these sounds are miraculous. Filled with laughter and light. You asked me why I was still talking to you and I asked why you were still there. My blood boiled. I hadn’t felt so emotionally stirred in a long time. I was glad I stood up to you. I hope you will learn something from us someday. But most of all, I hope that you are kinder to your children – should you have them – than you were to ours.
The Mama who revels in the delightful screams and squeals of her children. Anywhere she might be.