Say you’re in a relatively family-oriented restaurant – like, oh I don’t know, Outback Steakhouse. Just as an example. And say you have a 7 1/2 month-old baby with you. She’s hanging out in her high chair, and she’s being a bit loud, but it’s all happy baby yelling, she isn’t crying or anything like that. You’ve given her some toys to play with, and a spoon to bang on the table, so all is relatively well. Plus it’s not even 5:00 in the evening, so you figure that it’s probably ok to have a loud baby with the early dinner crowd, since most other patrons also have very small children with them.
When the server brings you your food, he offers you animal crackers for the baby. She’s never had them before, but hey, she eats Cheerios, so it’s more or less the same texture and consistency, right? You think you’ll just break them up into Cheerio-size pieces and all will be well.
The baby is getting fussy in her high chair, and you’ve managed to wolf down half of your dinner, so you set it aside and sit the baby in your lap and let her play with the animal cracker pieces. She tries unsuccessfully to eat them a few times. Finally, she gets a piece in her mouth. Then she starts to make a gagging face. You and your spouse suddenly realize that this baby is about to blow chunks from here to kingdom come. You have about two seconds to make a choice:
A) Aim her toward the inside of your booth, so the other restaurant patrons will be spared the sight of the barf spray. This would seem the courteous thing to do for folks who are trying to eat, however keep in mind that should you choose this option, it means that your fancy-shmancy diaper bag that you love will also be covered in baby barf. (And the bag is open, so… yeah. Lots o’ mess.)
B) Aim her out and toward the floor. In this case, other people will witness the barf, but clean-up will be minimized. There’ll be less barf on yourself and the baby, and it would seem to be easier for the restaurant people to mop a section of the floor than to have to get inside a booth.
Which would you choose?
For the record, I chose B. I think Dave was horrified that I didn’t choose A, but you know, the two tables closest to us both had babies with them, and I thought they were sympathetic. (Ok, maybe not the people with the newborn, but whatever. They’ll learn.) Cate was already sitting on the side of my lap that was closest to the outside of the booth, and I didn’t know if I would have time to maneuver her toward the inside of the booth before VomitWorks 2007 started. It’s certainly not like I had time to run her outside or to the ladies’ room, which would’ve been ideal.
I apologized about a hundred times to the wait staff who came over to help us clean up, and I way over-tipped to compensate for the grossness. I felt really bad about it, but I didn’t know what else to do.
So am I a horrible person for potentially ruining a few people’s appetites in exchange for not ruining my bag? It sounds awful when I phrase it like that, but it all happened so fast, I honestly didn’t have time to think it out that much.
Also, option B doesn’t mean that you won’t get any barf on you, it just means that there’ll be slightly less barf. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go take a shower right this second, and everything I’m wearing has to go in the washer immediately. Yuck.
Quite a quandry. I think that any restaurant that has crayons and gives animal crackers to little ones has to understand that little ones occasionally barf. Ever figure out what caused it?
Oh yeah, it was the unchewed piece of animal cracker that she tried to swallow – it got stuck in the back of her mouth and triggered her gag reflex. It’s happened once or twice when she tried to swallow a Cheerio without gumming it first.
Hey, did my comment get deleted?
I’d have definitely gone for “B.” It’s easier for wait-staff to clean up a floor with a mop than to clean a booth with a washrag.
As long as you overtipped, I think it’s all OK. I doubt the other parents were too upset, and if they were, then that’s their problem. Even an adult can’t stifle a barf, so what can they really expect you to do? It’s not like you pointed her little head at their blooming onion dip.