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  How should children (and adults) behave in public? - Discuss
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  • How should children (and adults) behave in public? - Discuss

    Post #1 - November 9th, 2005, 10:45 am
    Post #1 - November 9th, 2005, 10:45 am Post #1 - November 9th, 2005, 10:45 am
    There is a great article in today's NY Times (Pg. A12) on the owner of A Taste of Heaven, Dan McCauley, and his crusade to promote appropriate behavior in children. He posted a sign that reads, "children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when coming to A Taste of Heaven".

    If you are familiar with ATofH, you will know that it is a relatively small space and "children" who are speaking too loudly, using their cell phones, screaming... will be disruptive. I think this sign is a great reminder to all of us that we are in a public space and need to act appropriately.

    Apparently, this sign is generating a bit of controversy among his patrons. It seems like some parents think that Mr. McCauley has something against children. My feeling is that any parent who would come to that conclusion does not understand the importance of teaching their children how to act in public and how behavior which is acceptable at home may not be acceptable in public.

    Mr McCauley is appears unfazed by those who are accusing him of misopedia and believes (as I do) that he is actually doing a service by making people aware of what is appropriate public behavior, and he said he would rather go out of business than back down.

    The article ends with his following quote: "I can't change the situation in Iraq, I can't change the situation in New Orleans ... but I can change this little corner of the world."
    Last edited by unknowndiner on November 9th, 2005, 11:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #2 - November 9th, 2005, 10:57 am
    Post #2 - November 9th, 2005, 10:57 am Post #2 - November 9th, 2005, 10:57 am
    My daughter is only 6 and she acts older than most 13 year olds

    She already knows, when home or in public:
    - no elbows on the table
    - chew with your mouth shut
    - no loud talking or yelling (not just at the table, but in stores and such)
    - sit at the table until everyone is finished
    - here's a big one, NEVER make that noise with a straw when you finished your drink to try and coax one last drop out of the bottom of the glass. I hate that.

    I am also the soccer coach, and am appalled by the parents that want to be their kids friend, and likes to reason with them. Their kids are usually obnoxius and uncoachable.

    I tell the kids flat out, I have you for two hours a week, so your either gonna listen to me or you can go home.
    Bill-Plainfield
  • Post #3 - November 9th, 2005, 2:31 pm
    Post #3 - November 9th, 2005, 2:31 pm Post #3 - November 9th, 2005, 2:31 pm
    Note - I have no kids.

    There is a difference between kids being enthusiastic and happy and kids shrieking. Sometimes kids will just cry and cry, or truly shriek, and that sort of noise is what I think people object to - when the parents don't do anything about it.

    If a kid is in a coffee shop and speaks loudly, that's not a problem. After all, there's the espresso machine hissing, the pounding of the grounds, music, conversation - it's not a church. But go to somewhere small and crowded like Toast, and put a hysterically crying child there, and you know, the parent ought to take the kid outside until she calms down. You can tell the child "indoor voice" without dampening his enthusiasm (which I guess is what the shrieking usually is about?)

    Hope I don't sound too much like a curmugeon...
    Leek

    SAVING ONE DOG may not change the world,
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  • Post #4 - November 9th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    Post #4 - November 9th, 2005, 4:07 pm Post #4 - November 9th, 2005, 4:07 pm
    I've often seen Dan drop what he's doing to play with a toddler who came into the shop with mom and/or dad. I'm going to guess that he has nothing against kids of any age as long as they have a basic understanding of public spaces. And chances are the problem kids are being raised by problem parents who don't get it either. (I have little sympathy for the parents in the article who seem to themselves consider their kids a burden.) I've been a fan of Dan's work for a long time (the Jeanine cake is amazing), but I hadn't happened to go there since he started this policy -- I'm more likely to now.
  • Post #5 - November 9th, 2005, 4:25 pm
    Post #5 - November 9th, 2005, 4:25 pm Post #5 - November 9th, 2005, 4:25 pm
    leek wrote:Note - I have no kids.
    ...
    Hope I don't sound too much like a curmugeon...


    I have two young kids, and I don't think you sound like a curmudgeon at all.
  • Post #6 - November 9th, 2005, 5:25 pm
    Post #6 - November 9th, 2005, 5:25 pm Post #6 - November 9th, 2005, 5:25 pm
    As someone with two wildly enthusiastic etc. boys...

    On the one hand, I try to corral them as best I can. In part by not taking them to places where there's an expectation of quiet they cannot meet at their ages.

    On the other hand, I know a thing or two about my kids' moods, and I know that ordering a toddler to shut up, or overcontrolling his every move, is sometimes the surest way to get him shrieking and throwing things and crying. I am trying to strike a balance in those situations between calming him down and getting him to stop right then.

    Which means the last thing I need is some old biddy with no kids to start getting on my case. And the same goes for owners. The very fact that Dan whoever has made a name for himself as someone who goes around interfering with frazzled parents means that he has just guaranteed that A Taste of Heaven (which I never liked that much anyway) is a A Slice of Purgatory I can do without.

    Watch out buddy, remember what I did to this guy.
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  • Post #7 - November 9th, 2005, 7:18 pm
    Post #7 - November 9th, 2005, 7:18 pm Post #7 - November 9th, 2005, 7:18 pm
    I'm pretty tolerant of noisy and boisterous people in even the finer restaurants, with two exceptions: the shriek that seems to be the primary defense of girls under 6, and children running around my table. I can even deal with a bit of crying, so long as it stays under vacuum-cleaner decibels and under 10KHz in pitch.

    Other places, though, especially my workplace, noise drives me crazy. I couldn't work in a family restaurant through those noise levels.
    What is patriotism, but the love of good things we ate in our childhood?
    -- Lin Yutang
  • Post #8 - November 9th, 2005, 8:19 pm
    Post #8 - November 9th, 2005, 8:19 pm Post #8 - November 9th, 2005, 8:19 pm
    Mike G wrote:As someone with two wildly enthusiastic etc. boys...

    Which means the last thing I need is some old biddy with no kids to start getting on my case. And the same goes for owners. The very fact that Dan whoever has made a name for himself as someone who goes around interfering with frazzled parents means that he has just guaranteed that A Taste of Heaven (which I never liked that much anyway) is a A Slice of Purgatory I can do without.


    1) This article was not about a store owner getting on someone's case in regard to children's enthusiasm. It was about how some patrons of public places allow their children to unfavorably alter the environment for other patrons. It is not about shopowners telling parents how to parent, just how to allow others to also make use of that store's public space.

    2) I doubt he's making a name for himself this way, and I'm certain he's not "interfering with frazzled parents" - I'm guessing he's trying to protect the other people in the store, parents, children and childless alike, from unnecessarily distracting behavior that he feels inappropriate for that space.

    I find it bizarre that this article framed this as a debate between "the childless and those with children" since expecting public, age-appropriate behavior has nothing to do with having children. I also find it odd that anyone would find fault with a store owner who has problems with the parent who allows their child to roll around the floor, blocking access to the store or whose child repeatedly slams into the pastry case (examples from the story).

    Imagine 15 people in this coffee shop/restaurant, children, adults, etc., and one child is being allowed to behave badly and loudly without any move by the parent to ameliorate the situation. The other 13 people expecting a tranquil evening are put out, made uncomfortable; some leave, the parent and child stay, the owner says nothing.

    Societal behaviors shift over time, and there has been a trend toward allowing children to do what they want in pubic spaces, as if they were in their own homes, and that there is something wrong with those who don't allow that. Others find it perfectly reasonable to treat movie theaters like their homes, talking on cell phones during movies, talking back to the screen.
  • Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 10:10 pm
    Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 10:10 pm Post #9 - November 9th, 2005, 10:10 pm
    For whatever reason, I immediately thought of this nerdy, yet apropos, quote.

    "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one." - Mr Spock.

    Restaurants, movie theaters, and other places have banned cell phones because of the unwelcome noise and interruption that they cause. Dan has just taken that a little further since, to many people, sitting next to a screaming kid that is not yours is many times worse than listening to someone else's cell phone go off while you're trying to eat.

    Dan's sign has been up since at least the middle of the summer, IIRC.

    As to Michael M's remark about talking back to the screen, I think some of it is a cultural thing. Whenever I wanted to have fun at a movie, my friends and I would go to a theater in Chinatown (this is in Philly). Everyone in the theater would be having a blast talking back to the screen, yelling and cheering, etc. I might not have known what the movie was about, but it sure was a great time!
    When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Post #10 - November 9th, 2005, 11:27 pm
    Post #10 - November 9th, 2005, 11:27 pm Post #10 - November 9th, 2005, 11:27 pm
    Michael M. wrote:Imagine 15 people in this coffee shop/restaurant, children, adults, etc., and one child is being allowed to behave badly and loudly without any move by the parent to ameliorate the situation. The other 13 people expecting a tranquil evening are put out, made uncomfortable; some leave, the parent and child stay, the owner says nothing.

    Indeed, to me the proper analogue here is the thread a while back about dress codes in restaurants. They aren't for, against, or about you; they're about the people around you, making sure you don't spoil their moments. Same here.

    As for Dan being an "old [he's 44, three years younger than me... hey, wait... I'm OLD!] biddy [he's a, well, he] with no kids [since only people with kids have to live around them, deal with them, and be affected by them]," I can't think of anything less relevant to the discussion.
  • Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 8:41 am
    Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 8:41 am Post #11 - November 10th, 2005, 8:41 am
    I should have included this link to the article for those who have a (free) log-in for the NY times.

    http://travel2.nytimes.com/2005/11/09/n ... akery.html
  • Post #12 - November 10th, 2005, 9:00 am
    Post #12 - November 10th, 2005, 9:00 am Post #12 - November 10th, 2005, 9:00 am
    The article ends with his following quote: "I can't change the situation in Iraq, I can't change the situation in New Orleans ... but I can change this little corner of the world."


    At least he's not pompous and self-important.
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  • Post #13 - November 10th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Post #13 - November 10th, 2005, 9:14 am Post #13 - November 10th, 2005, 9:14 am
    Mike G wrote:As someone with two wildly enthusiastic etc. boys...

    On the one hand, I try to corral them as best I can. In part by not taking them to places where there's an expectation of quiet they cannot meet at their ages.



    Mike,

    I've been around your kids on many occasions. You've raised them well and they, for the most part, are very well behaved. Sure they can get rambunctious at times, but that's a hell of a lot different than just letting them run amok screaming and invading the space of other people around them without any intervention from their parents. I think that the efforts of Purple Asparagus go a long way toward getting kids acclimated to the dining experience and what is expected of them. There are, however, many parents who think that the universe revolves around little junior and have put no boundaries on their behavior. When these people invade the space of others, they can be quite obnoxious (both parents and children). Parents need to take responsibility for their children's behavior, as you obviously do (this is not limited to only inside a restaurant, BTW). This guy's sign is a friendly reminder. Nothing more. I recently dined in a place (not in Chicago) that posted a sign that says "Parents, control your children". I can only imagine what the Trixie Mafia would think of a sign that is so direct and non-PC.
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #14 - November 10th, 2005, 9:34 am
    Post #14 - November 10th, 2005, 9:34 am Post #14 - November 10th, 2005, 9:34 am
    Mike G wrote:As someone with two wildly enthusiastic etc. boys...

    On the one hand, I try to corral them as best I can. In part by not taking them to places where there's an expectation of quiet they cannot meet at their ages.

    My take is that McCauley is simply trying to establish his place as one where there's an expectation of quiet, in part because, unlike Mike G, some of his customers don't seem to have a clue:
    "I think that the mothers who allow their kids to run around and scream, that's wrong, but kids scream and there is nothing you can do about it. What are we supposed to do, not enjoy ourselves at a cafe?"
  • Post #15 - November 10th, 2005, 9:43 am
    Post #15 - November 10th, 2005, 9:43 am Post #15 - November 10th, 2005, 9:43 am
    I have seen many kinds of inconsiderate behavior in restaurants. Yet this is the only one you can get away with putting up a sign about, in Andersonville at least.

    Mr. McCauley has every right to do this; and patrons with children have every right to feel that he's just raised the hassle and unfriendliness level at his establishment beyond where they care to return. People seem to be trying to convince me that I shouldn't be offended, but before it gets to the matter of offense there's simply, why would I want to go somewhere that I felt like I was under the watchful eye of the owner and every other patron, waiting for my child to once laugh or drop his spoon so that they could righteously jump all over that? Life is too short and, as I said before, his baked goods aren't that good.
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  • Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 9:44 am
    Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 9:44 am Post #16 - November 10th, 2005, 9:44 am
    The five letters to the editor on the topic in today's NYT all agree with Dan -- and when last night's Fox News covered the story and asked whether it was OK for a restaurant owner to post a sign like that, 87% said it was. It seems the boycotters-on-principle, like Mike and his well-raised pair, are a tiny minority. (But considering Cafe Boost went out of business only a few months after Taste of Heaven moved in across the street, the many other coffee shops and bakeries in the neighborhood are likely grateful for anything that might steer business their way.)
  • Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 10:29 am
    Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 10:29 am Post #17 - November 10th, 2005, 10:29 am
    I think there's a problem with the wording of his signs. If you must communicate with your customers through signage you should be really careful with the wording. Telling your customers what they "have to" do is just weird. Also the thing about "children of all ages" is probably meant to indicate no discrimination against children but it comes off kind of insulting to the intelligence.

    It reminds me of a deli I stopped patronizing when they put up a sign telling everyone ot "be patient." No "please" or anything. They were slow and inefficient but I liked their sandwiches. The sign, however, made me feel like I was in prison.
  • Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 10:45 am
    Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 10:45 am Post #18 - November 10th, 2005, 10:45 am
    Mike G wrote:why would I want to go somewhere that I felt like I was under the watchful eye of the owner and every other patron, waiting for my child to once laugh or drop his spoon so that they could righteously jump all over that? Life is too short and, as I said before, his baked goods aren't that good.


    Mike G,
    Based on Steve Z's post about the behavior of your children, this sign is not referring to you or your children. These people (or at least most) are not expressing a dislike of children but a frustration with parents who are not as aware as you are of what is appropriate behavior. "They" aren't going to"jump all over you" because your child laughed or dropped his spoon, but they are exasperated by parents who let their children shriek and throw their spoon repeatedly on the floor (or do something similarly inappropriate), and I bet you share their exasperation.

    On another note, I love their baked goods - they are not fancy but good solid desserts - good comfort food (comfort desserts?)
  • Post #19 - November 10th, 2005, 11:02 am
    Post #19 - November 10th, 2005, 11:02 am Post #19 - November 10th, 2005, 11:02 am
    why would I want to go somewhere that I felt like I was under the watchful eye of the owner and every other patron, waiting for my child to once laugh or drop his spoon so that they could righteously jump all over that?


    While I have never been to Taste of Heaven, I do find myself in coffeeshops regularly because I'm reading, writing, or grading papers. I couldn't care less what anyone or their children do as long as it doesn't approach discomfort. Laughing, spoon dropping, and kids and adults being themselves isn't the issue.

    When you go to a public place, you're aware that you have to deal with the public and that you're not going to the silent reading room at a library. But, there is something to be said for asking people not to detract from the general atmosphere that's been established in a public space.

    I know the pains my parents took to take my sister and I out early and often when were kids. They established what was and wasn't appropriate behavior and God help us if we didn't behave. Many times strangers would stop at our table and compliment my parents on how unobtrusive we were. By no means did they silence us or not let us be kids, but they didn't want us to disturb others. I think perhaps that is what the owner is trying to get across to people.
    Last edited by KatyK on November 10th, 2005, 12:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #20 - November 10th, 2005, 11:34 am
    Post #20 - November 10th, 2005, 11:34 am Post #20 - November 10th, 2005, 11:34 am
    I echo KatyK insofar as I think that we as a society have lost our collective manners and I do believe that this extends beyond the restaurant realm. I have several encounters each day in which someone blocks a gas pump, speaks at top volume or just saunters across the street on a don't walk sign. All of this is done under the guise of entitlement i.e. "I have paid for this and therefore I can do anything I want". We still need to remember that we live in a society and not a bubble.
    As a child I remember being trained at home to eat properly. My father would place napkins underneath my siblings' and my arms so that we would not lift our elbows and create an airplane like eating maneuver. We were required to keep them underneath our arms the entire meal. If we were particularly squirrely, my father would wrap his belt around our waist and belt us to the chair so that we would not get up. Subsequently, we received a great deal of compliments from strangers when we were children.
    Although these tactics seem somewhat draconian, I can still eat a meal seated and not resebling a 747.
  • Post #21 - November 10th, 2005, 12:45 pm
    Post #21 - November 10th, 2005, 12:45 pm Post #21 - November 10th, 2005, 12:45 pm
    Two items....

    Your right to allow your kids to disturb me, ends where my right not to be disturbed begins.

    As a former manager of a family restaurant, let me tell you a short story. Kid running around, making lots of noise, parents struck with parental deafness and blindness. Server with food for a six top, enters the room, kid runs into server, gets covered with hot food. Me, owner, and server all get to defend ourselves against a lawsuit. Parents claimed it was our responsibility to tell them of the dangers of running around in a restaurant, and that we should have told the kid to behave. Owner paid 10K to end it. Server lost her job.
  • Post #22 - November 10th, 2005, 1:57 pm
    Post #22 - November 10th, 2005, 1:57 pm Post #22 - November 10th, 2005, 1:57 pm
    "They" aren't going to"jump all over you" because your child laughed or dropped his spoon


    Wanna bet that's never happened?

    The willingness of total strangers to interfere with parents and their children, oblivious to their own behavior which might be considered equally offensive by a parent with small children (from cell phone use to obscenities to describing recent sex acts they've performed or, among the older set, medical procedures they've had), is nearly boundless. (I might add, Sabersix, that servers are hardly exempt from such behavior, either.)

    In any case, I don't know why people are trying to convince me of the justice of A Taste of Heaven's anti-child policies, or their own hostile attitudes on display here. Mr. ATOH is free to create any positive or negative energies his orb is capable of extruding in his establishment. And I'm free to avoid his establishment like the overrated sub-Starbucksian sawdust-muffin place I thought it was even before I had kids.
    Watch Sky Full of Bacon, the Chicago food HD podcast!
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  • Post #23 - November 10th, 2005, 2:06 pm
    Post #23 - November 10th, 2005, 2:06 pm Post #23 - November 10th, 2005, 2:06 pm
    It seems like most people I know (including myself) remember being trained much more clearly as children on how to conduct yourself in public, mostly by practicing at the nightly dinner table. Though I don't recalled ever having been bound to my dining chair with a belt, I can remember being told to keep elbows off the table, and that I was always on best behavior when dining out. I don't know why this seems to be such an issue these days, but I've never been a parent, so what do I know?

    I agree that parents are responsible for their children wherever they are, and Dan has every right to remind people by posting his feelings on the subject in his store window, I still can't bring myself to go to Taste of Heaven after I received this monstronsity:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/38314982@N00/37810572/in/set-835907/

    It was a Jeannine cake, which is normally very good, but it was even more godawful to eat than it was to look at (possible?). Guess I should have known better after he messed up my wedding cake.
  • Post #24 - November 10th, 2005, 2:18 pm
    Post #24 - November 10th, 2005, 2:18 pm Post #24 - November 10th, 2005, 2:18 pm
    More power to Dan, and shame on the women who WLS reports are boycotting/leading demonstrations against his stance. We raised both our boys to know that, except for dreadful places like Chuck E. Cheese, restaurants were places to behave -- and many a time Barb or I would take them out to the car/pay and leave when misbehavior looked like it was annyoing other patrons.

    You want to see the antithesis of this stand? Go to Sweet Tomatoes for an early Sunday dinner. It's a literal food fight in front of your eyes; waitresses constantly sweeping up food thrown by toddlers and children running amok while their parents gorge on another helping of carbohydrates. While this is a restaurant concept we've wanted to like, we've never gone back after an outing to the Glenview location where we all wished we had worn plastic raincoats.
    >>Brent
    "Yankee bean soup, cole slaw and tuna surprise."
  • Post #25 - November 10th, 2005, 3:34 pm
    Post #25 - November 10th, 2005, 3:34 pm Post #25 - November 10th, 2005, 3:34 pm
    Mike G wrote:or, among the older set, medical procedures they've had.


    Allow me this quick digression: the above quote is one of the many, many things that makes The Coq D'or one of my favorite bars in Chicago.

    Perhaps the staff there should post a sign reminding gramma that repeatedly hacking up a lung and dry vomiting may amuse her table, but isn't conducive to finishing off that second Executive cocktail and Bookbinders at others.

    ---then there was the elderly Branson-esque "gentleman" sitting behind us at the recent Dolly Parton concert who had either never learned bowel control or completely forgotten it.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #26 - November 10th, 2005, 3:46 pm
    Post #26 - November 10th, 2005, 3:46 pm Post #26 - November 10th, 2005, 3:46 pm
    Christopher Gordon wrote:---then there was the elderly Branson-esque "gentleman" sitting behind us at the recent Dolly Parton concert who had either never learned bowel control or completely forgotten it.


    You know, Dolly will do that to the best of us...
  • Post #27 - November 10th, 2005, 4:33 pm
    Post #27 - November 10th, 2005, 4:33 pm Post #27 - November 10th, 2005, 4:33 pm
    The bottom line is that at one time or another, you'll come across a wide range of people exhibiting various degrees of jackass behavior in various locations and circumstances. It's not limited to kids, trixies, chads, grammas, or grandpas. it's everyone. And, a business owner has every right to try and make his business as pleasant as possible for the people that choose to patronize it, even it if risks offending others. Is he fighting a Quixotic battle ? perhaps. That's a risk he takes. If some don't like it, they can vote with their pocketbook and so be it.

    And count me in as one of the kids whose parents would NOT tolerate the slightest unruly behavior in public. As far as they can recall, none of us ever had a full-blown tantrum. But, my dad did turn around and drive back to Chicago from around Green Bay when my brother and I wouldn't stop beating the hell out of each other in the car. So much for the trip around Lake Michigan !
    Last edited by tem on November 10th, 2005, 4:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #28 - November 10th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    Post #28 - November 10th, 2005, 4:34 pm Post #28 - November 10th, 2005, 4:34 pm
    kl5 wrote:You know, Dolly will do that to the best of us...


    Yr walking on thin ice, buster :)

    This topic specifically targets TOH and their posted policy, but I also see(as do other posters) a general sense of entitlement and permissiveness in the social realm. Kids, trixies, the elderly, everyone wants it their way NOW.
    Being gauche rocks, stun the bourgeoisie
  • Post #29 - November 10th, 2005, 5:07 pm
    Post #29 - November 10th, 2005, 5:07 pm Post #29 - November 10th, 2005, 5:07 pm
    Mike G wrote:In any case, I don't know why people are trying to convince me of the justice of A Taste of Heaven's anti-child policies, or their own hostile attitudes on display here.


    Again, Mike, I will point out that as a reasonable parent with relatively well behaved children, the LTOH policies shouldn't make any difference to you whatsoever. It's aimed at a totally different type of parent/child. Quit yer bitchin'
    Steve Z.

    “Only the pure in heart can make a good soup.”
    ― Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Post #30 - November 10th, 2005, 5:56 pm
    Post #30 - November 10th, 2005, 5:56 pm Post #30 - November 10th, 2005, 5:56 pm
    I don't even have kids, but the more I think about that sign the less I like it. I don't like signs in restaurants, period, at least ones that tell you what to do and not do.

    Coffee shops have a legitimate problem because they attract people who want to sit around all day and some of these people can be a pain. Some of them will be the type who expect the public to babysit their kids and some will be obnoxious for other reasons. Maybe they should do what they do in Italy and let you stay as long as you want but make you pay double if you want to sit.

    I have to say, the two or three meals and cafe sojourns I've had spoiled in the past few years have with one exception been spoiled by adults. (Even the one exception is questionable since it was the way the parents acted that made it really weird.)

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