Parents, I think it's time we all took a good, long, hard look at ourselves, writes Penny Flanagan.
There is a certain attitude among parents (and I know, because I am one) that because we are suffering by the hands of our children, so too must everyone around us.
This has led to some particularly entitled behaviour in cafes and restaurants around Sydney. As the self-appointed arbiter of "parents in cafes behaviour", I think it's time we all took a good, long, hard look at ourselves.
Here are seven things parents should never do in cafes and restaurants, reports News.com.au.
1. LET KIDS USE AN IPAD OR PHONE ON LOUDSPEAKER
This is something I am seeing more and more lately: this idea that the cafe is essentially a BYO television scenario. Because that's what a mobile device on loudspeaker is; it's just a television that you decided to bring with you. And it comes into the cafe with all the ubiquitous "SPROING! BLIP! PKEW!!" noises that are so pervasive in kids' shows and games.
Parents, hear this: the cafe is not your living room. Just because you are used to the frenetic "Boing, boing YAY!" sounds of Peppa Pig AT VOLUME, it doesn't mean the rest of the people in the cafe should have to suffer it.
If you really must park your child in front of a screen (and yes, I'm a pre-digital-age parent and I'm judging you) I have one word for you: HEADPHONES!!!
2. HOLD A MOTHER'S GROUP WITH A CIRCLE OF PRAMS THAT BLOCKS EVERYONE'S ACCESS
Let me be clear: I did not say anything about a mother's right to breastfeed. By all means, get your nourishers out, en masse and feed your young. BUT don't "circle the wagons" with your Bugaboos.
In fact, it's my opinion, (because I am such a fun person) that large groups OF ANY KIND should be limited to 6 or LESS in cafes. (And I'm looking at you, ball-sack-bearing-bike-men with your tippy-tappy shoes.)
Anything more just becomes a hostile takeover scenario.
3. ASSUME TOY CORNER COMES WITH AN INVISIBLE CONE OF SILENCE
Look, I know. We've all been there. As parents of young children, we all crave just a few minutes of uninterrupted adult conversation and if that means a bit of banging and biting in toy corner, it's worth it.
But parents, there are other people in the cafe. If Lachlan is banging a truck on the wall in a repetitive, psychotic rhythm, WE ARE ALL EXPERIENCING THAT.
Just be aware that while toy corner may sometimes have a gate on it, it does not have a cone of silence. Would that it were so simple.
4. ALLOW REPEATED HEEL-KICKING OF THE BANQUETTE
As a mother of three boys, I know that boys have an overwhelming compulsion to have some part of their body constantly in motion and if that motion makes an annoying noise, even better.
For my kids, it's the fly-swat-style table number that they can't keep their hands off. As soon as we sit down it's being spun on its base, or used as a weapon, or the number card is being taken out and then they start fighting over it like it's the GREATEST TABLE FEATURE EVER AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO TOUCH IT.
Do you know what I do? I quarantine the table number in my section of the table. I handle the situation so that other diners don't have to listen to the sound of the table number being spun and banged and fought over.
So if your kid is a banquette heel-kicker, either sit him in another chair that's not communal or TELL HIM TO STOP IT!!!
5. FORCE "THE VILLAGE" TO BE PART OF YOUR CHILD'S "LEARNING"
It has come to my attention that some parents are taking liberties with the popular phrase: "It takes a village to raise a child."
So let me spell it out for you. The phrase, "It takes a village" does not mean "My elaborate disciplinary methods must be witnessed by the village and admired."
A lot of parents like to create a free "parenting display" for the enjoyment of those in the cafe.
This might include, doing the whole "naughty corner" thing, using a cafe chair, or going all Obi Wan when Isabella throws a tantrum.
"I am talking a calm voice while my child screams the cafe to oblivion because I am in control here. I will not raise my voice, I will keep talking calmly because that is good parenting."
Firstly, the only acceptable method for dealing with a tantrum in a cafe is this: Put the kid in the football hold and make a run for it. I'll pay your bill. Just get that kid out of here.
Secondly, no one else in the cafe is interested in how committed you are to following through on time-outs and using your Obi Wan parenting voice. Well done, sir. But TAKE IT OFFLINE.
6. CHANGE NAPPIES ON TABLES OR ANYWHERE IN THE VICINITY OF PEOPLE EATING
Even if the cafe does not provide a change table (and I'm sorry about that) please don't punish the rest of us with the sight of your child's bumhole being lifted and wiped.
It's like the boob thing; just because it's a cute little bumhole, it's still a bumhole. We don't really want it near us or around us or in our eye line when we are eating.
7. GET ANNOYED WHEN SOMEONE ACCIDENTALLY RELEASES YOUR FREE-RANGE CHILD THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR OF THE CAFE
Again with the village thing. Yes we will help you out when we can, but don't EXPECT us to treat your child's safety with the same vigilance.
If we are walking in the door, we need to open it. So if your kid scoots through, don't give us an exasperated sigh and dagger-eyes because we just "endangered" your child.
If you've got a runner on your hands, you should maybe attend to that. The villagers shouldn't be expected to play gatekeeper for you.
Penny Flanagan is a freelance writer and musician. She blogs sporadically at ediblegarbage.blogspot.com.au and posts on Facebook when she wants some attention.