real life

Unpopular opinion: There's nothing wrong with a stranger yelling at your yelling child.

It’s the Great Portland Pancake Scandal.

I am about to make myself really, really unpopular. Because today, I defended a woman who yelled at a two-year-old.

This morning when we were discussing a news story in which a Portland restaurant owner screamed at a toddler… who had in turn been screaming for a good 40 minutes.

“No one would ever scream at a baby, right?” declared one of the team.

“How could anyone yell at a toddler?” piped up another.

“I would never do that!” declared the last.

I squirmed a bit and looked furtively around and then thought – f*ck it. I’m going in.

“I would.” I said boldly. “I would totally yell at a screaming child.”

Would you ever yell at someone else's child?
You did what?

Well, shocked silence and widened eyes aside, we all had a bit of a laugh and moved on. But the question lingered: Is it ever OK to yell at someone else’s child?

Whole books have been written on the topic, with Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap sparking heated debate among parents and childless folk alike. But let’s start with a few home truths from the Portland incident, shall we?

Would you ever yell at someone else's child?
Would I ever scold another person’s child? Oh ABSOLUTELY.

Here’s a play-by-play.

1. Parents bring 2 year old child to a busy Portland diner.

2. Parents buy delicious pancakes.

3. Parents place delicious pancakes out of reach of their 2 year old child.

4. Child begins screaming.

5. Child screams for FORTY MINUTES. FORTY.

6. Diner owner slams her hands on the bench, points to child, and shouts – “This has to stop!”

7. Child stops screaming.

8.  Applause ensues, fireworks go off, glitter falls from the ceiling and diner owner is announced as the front runner in the upcoming Presidential election.

Meet the charming Darla below. (Post continues after video.)

Video via MSNBC

Ok, ok. I made that last bit up. But c’mon, seriously? Forty minutes of pancake induced screaming? Let’s just say the words “This has to stop” seemed fairly mild in my opinion. Darla Neugebauer (also known as Diner Owner) had the following to say:

“I might have used poor judgement. I wouldn’t say I was sorry because it stopped. When things stop it’s usually a good thing,’ she said.

“Life’s full of choices and you gotta live with all of them. I chose to yell at the kid. It made her shut up which made me happy, it made my staff happy, it made the other 75 people in the restaurant happy.”

Tara Carson pictured with the angry baby, who is rumoured to really, really, REALLY like pancakes.

Right on, Darla.


But Tara Carson (also known as Child’s Mother) was less than impressed, posting her side of the story on the Macy’s Diner Facebook wall:

“The owner is an absolute lunatic and screamed in the face of my almost 2-year-old child because she was crying. If you have a problem with a child crying then you are not suitable to run a business. If it bothered you so much you should have spoken to me and not traumatised my child.”

So this is the part when I say something that’s going to make some of you a bit shitty. Maybe even really mad. But I just can’t not say it: screaming children are THE WORST.

Yes, I know it is unavoidable. Yes, I know your darling children are just tired/hungry/needing to poop. Yes, I know that I will be that embarrassed mother holding a hysterical kid one day and YES I KNOW THAT I SOUND LIKE AN INSENSITIVE ARSE-HAT. But can you please take a moment to agree with me: screaming children are the worst. Even you can admit it. Go on. Admit it.

Would you ever yell at someone else's child?
Hands up if your chest tightened up JUST LOOKING AT THIS. Now imagine it for forty minutes. With sound.

Now, as someone who spent the better part of an Arts degree babysitting kids, I know the protocol when it comes to dealing with a screaming child in public. You try and find a quiet place, let them have a yell, figure out the problem and give them a rollup. (OH SHOOT ME. I GAVE THE KID A ROLL UP.) Somehow, I just can’t understand why Mr and Mrs Tara Carson would buy delicious pancakes and withhold them from their darling child, who by all accounts, looks like a nice enough little lass? And moreover, why they would extend this pancake torture for almost an hour?

Granted, Darla Neugebauer sounds like a bit of a dick. She sounds aggressive, and unrepentant, and pretty mean. But Darla, darlin’,  hand on heart, I’ve gotta take your side on this one. I used to get red-eye flights up and down the east coast for work on a weekly basis, and every now and then would be unlucky enough to get a really mad baby joining me. From take off to landing, a crying baby can drive you to madness – no amount of yogi deep breathing techniques, earplugs, valium, whiskey, temple massage, complaining or stink-eye would help.

definition of hangry


C’mon, Carsons – why put the people through that? Unlike a plane, you had the chance to take your wee lassie out for a little walk in the sunshine, point to some birds, and swear to her that you will never withhold another pancake from her every again.

MAYBE – just maybe – you could have avoided the wrath of Death Stare Darla and her Zeus-like proclaimation…”THIS. MUST. STOP!” *Thunder claps, lightening strikes*

I sort of think “This must stop” was actually quite mild. And rather scholarly. Well played, Darla.

So there you go. My head is on the chopping block, and I’m ready for your outrage.

But please save me some pancakes.

What do you think? Are there any circumstances where it’s okay to scream at a child? 

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