Kids in public. What are the parents responsible for?

This is part Group Therapy question, part vent. Emily wrote to me about a situation she experienced with some friends in a cafe and it made me smile, half with recognition at how the parents would have been feeling and half at the way you DO feel quite peeved about things to do with children before you actually have them.

See what your view is on this one….

Yesterday I witnessed ‘incident’ that really got my blood boiling and started me thinking – am I just being over reactive? We bumped into some old friends at our local coffee shop, who had their two young sons in tow. I should declare here and now that I don’t have children, but I like children and I would like to have children of my own one day.
So, my response to the situation should be tempered by the fact that I have never been covered in mashed up food or vomit and I don’t yet have the kind of eyes that don’t ‘see’ children’s mess.
Anyway, our friends bought their boys a babycino and half a chocolate brownie each. As we chatted amongst ourselves, the boys proceeded to smear their brownies and the frothy milk all over themselves and the table and chairs they were sitting at. Let’s be fair, one of the kids doesn’t have teeth, so a chocolate brownie unsupervised by either parent was always going to be a big ask.
By the time our friends had polished off two rounds of coffee, the table had an interesting collection of spilled sugar, sugar wrappers and milk. The boys, especially the younger toothless one whose saliva production was similar in quantity to a Labrador puppy, had done a great job at mashing their brownie into small bits and the table looked more like a puppy’s litter tray than a table.

So they made a mess. No big deal.
Well, not until their dad picked up the boys and said, ‘Wow, look at you two. You’re filthy! Better take you home for a bath.’ And left. The mess. All over the table. This is the bit that really got me cross. I get that people who work at coffee shops have to pick up people’s coffee cups and serviettes and empty plates. It’s part of their job description. But I just couldn’t understand how having your kids create a gigantic mess and leaving it there was appropriate.
The situation ended with me and my partner wiping down the table, helping the shop owner clean up the mess and apologising profusely for our friends’ lack of consideration.I’d be interested to know, especially from MM readers with kids, if that’s cool? Or am I just a big, fat, childless grump?
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