Determining Appropriateness of Threatening Language, or…When is it ok to threaten someone’s child?

“Relax, it was an accident.”

“I’m about to have an accident with YOUR kid!”

That was the less-than-nice encounter we had as we were departing brunch last weekend. The tone of this blog is definitely tongue-in-cheek (and frequently foot-in-mouth) and I regularly like to sensationalize titles, but this was a genuinely weird moment caused by a parent’s fear for their own child’s safety. So… was it ok to threaten my child in retaliation?

I’ll set the stage a little better. We had just completed our meal at the lovely Hi Life in Ballard. A restored Firehouse in one of Seattle’s cooler neighborhoods that’s near AT’s interpretive dance/rolling-around class that has great and simple All-American food (specifically Brunch): Bloody Mary’s, Biscuits & Gravy, et. al. And the best part for my GFGF (gluten-free girlfriend), most of their menu can be had Gluten-free — which was the primary reason we went. Although thinking about the super-glutened B&Gs with a sunny side up egg is starting to make me lose my train of thought.

The staff at the Hi-Life genuinely seem to enjoy working there and it shows in how nice they are to customers, including my 3-year-old, who has a tendency to be a less-than-stellar restaurant-goer. It’s super kid-friendly. There was a prevailing aura of niceness that was quickly soured by this last encounter and was no fault of the restaurant’s.

Hi-Life on Urbanspoon

The weird instance occurred after we paid and were walking out. My GFGF accidentally bumped the makeshift crib the people next to us had propped up against their table. A crib that was pretty clearly blocking the exit for us. We both quickly said, “SORRY!” and expected that would be the end of it.

But the parents of the sleeping baby (who incidentally, didn’t even wake up), decided saying sorry was insufficient and immediately had horrified looks on their faces. The mom then said something to the effect of, “you should be careful you dumb a$$hole.” Whoa.

That seemed a bit uncalled for, so I said it was an accident and again, sorry. To which mom dropped the threat, “I’m about to have an accident with YOUR kid!”

Not wanting to escalate an already dicey situation I kicked the makeshift crib over and threw the woman’s delicious Bloody Mary into her stupid face, and yelled, “RUN!” Or at least that’s partially what I wanted to do. In actuality, we just left.

Unlike almost every other scenario where we make someone mad at us at a restaurant, this wasn’t even AT’s fault! Why didn’t she threaten my GFGF or me?

Thinking more about this, I can see where the mom was in the right to be horrified. Perhaps this was their first time out of the house in months? Maybe there had been a previous accident with someone knocking the makeshift crib over somewhere else? Or the most likely scenario, based on her pretty awful ink, was that she’s really not very smart, and partially insane.

I don’t condone violence of any kind, and I especially don’t condone threatening helpless children (unless they won’t eat their G-d*mn vegetables!!!), but I’m wondering if there is anything we could have done differently?

Should I have stayed after she threatened AT to talk to this person about why she did that? Part of me thinks that yes, I should have, and she probably would have seen the craziness of her threat and apologized. This is a nice establishment, not some dive bar — and other than the aforementioned tattoos, they could have been perfectly reasonable humans. Flight instinct prevailed and I’ll never know.

Seriously, who wouldn't want to threaten this kid?

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to threaten this kid?

One thought on “Determining Appropriateness of Threatening Language, or…When is it ok to threaten someone’s child?

  1. Hi James,

    Your first post just appeared on Urbanspoon! Check it out:

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