To the Sydney cafe owners who have banned 'feral kids'...

We get you.

There’s a cafe in northern Sydney who have had enough. ENOUGH.

They wanted to woo the “Mummy crowd”, you know, those roaming gangs of cashed-up do-nothings who apparently populate the city’s cafes, scarfing banana bread and chugging cappucinos without a care in the world.

So Turramurra’s Black Mocha opened a playroom to welcome those women, and get them to bring their offspring to their fine cafe to spend lots and lots of dollars while their well-dressed children coloured-in quietly in the corner.

The play room.


That didn’t happen.What did happen, according to the Black Mocha Facebook page, was this:

– Children ripping books, breaking toys and drawing on the walls.
– Kids chewing and tearing open sugar packets and emptying them onto the floor, tables, chairs and carpet as well as grinding food into the carpet, books, walls and toys.
– Kids using furniture as trampolines and kicking fixtures and fittings.
– Kids running and screeching unsupervised around the cafe jumping on the furniture, screaming; just for fun and often encouraged by their parents.
– Kids knocking over HOT tea and coffee, washing their hands in other patrons’ water glasses and taking food off other patrons’ plates.
– Parents bringing in takeaway food to eat and using cushions as plates.
– Parents changing nappies on lounges, table tops and the carpet in the kids play room and then placing dirty nappies on top of dining tables or leaving them in the play room.

The owner even expressed surprise that some parents would “come in and sit on one coffee for three hours and let their kids run amok.”

“Black Mocha is not a Crèche, a play centre, your home, or an open park; it is a café,” the owners went on.

And so, with regret, they have closed their playroom, and the mums will have to take their prams and get their caffeine fixes elsewhere.

The Black Mocha Cafe in northern Sydney.

And I have something to say to them.

Thank God.

Thank God you have stepped in and averted that situation, because, that you describe right there, is what goes on in my living room on an average Saturday morning, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

You got wise to us parents, and you were forced to Take Back Your Cafe.

The thing with parents is, you give us an inch, we’ll take two miles. You welcome us into your establishment with the lure of warm drinks and sugary snacks, and we’ll grab it. You show subtle signs that we are welcome, like those jam jars of blunt colourful pencils on the counter near the till, and we will move in.

We have our reasons. Living in a city and having small kids sometimes feels like being on the wrong side of the glass at a lolly shop. We can SEE the cool bars and the hipster cafes, we can READ about the edgy restaurants and the floating day clubs, we can HEAR about that incredible day spa where every treatment is made from kale and coconut shavings… but we CAN’T GO.

We can’t go because small children are the natural enemy of peace, conversation and long lunches.

We can’t go because small children don’t understand that a meal tastes better if you savour it over time, and that not every table cloth is wipe-clean.

We can’t go because small children must always be accompanied by a grown-up who loves them, and it is frowned upon to leave them outside near the lampost with a dog bowl.

We can’t go, in short, because small kids are annoying.

The play room that is no longer.


And so we are displaced, wandering homeless in the world, and we are thirsting for an oasis. And once we find one, make no mistake, we will trash it.

Case in point: I take my children to one particular establishment near my home regularly. That’s because they have a big back room where there are hardly ever any grown-ups customers, and the management don’t seem to care that my small people treat it like a playground, running around yelling and yes, sometimes jumping on the furniture, intermittently scoffing handfuls of food that I fastidiously purchase from them and never, ever bring in.

Sometimes, we take balloons, and blow them up so the kids can kick them around. Loudly.

We do that because we live in the city and we don’t have gardens and we are trying to win five-minute intervals of unbroken adult conversation. It’s an impossible dream.

But every time I walk into that place, I think it’s probably my last. I am waiting for the tap on the shoulder, for the disapproving glare, for the polite request to please never bring my children back here again. Or, perhaps, the angry Facebook post.

Holly with her two kids.

That day will come.

But until that day, I will persevere with being every other diner’s worst nightmare — taking my kids out in public, letting them be kids while I try to be an adult for half an hour. Or two hours, sitting on a single coffee (actually, I never do that. I can easily scoll three coffees in two hours).

Fair cop, Black Mocha, you got us.

I wish you a peaceful future. Maybe you could turn that play room into a spa.