An Open Letter to the Parents of the Baby Who Puked in Front of Me at Lunch

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You don't know me, but we ate lunch at the same restaurant today. You seemed like very nice people, and your baby sure is adorable! I think she even smiled at me when I sat nearby.

Did you enjoy your meal? I certainly enjoyed mine -- until, that is, you picked up your baby from her car-carrier thingamajig, and she puked all over herself.

Now, the fact that your baby threw up didn't bother me. That babies puke, often without warning, I understand. It's an unfortunate coincidence that I happened to look up from my sandwich at the moment when milky glop started pouring from the poor little dear's piehole. I put my head down and tried to erase the image from my mind so that I could finish my sandwich.

What bothered -- what bothers -- me is that, after you cleaned the puke off your baby's face and shirt, you didn't bother looking around to see if, oh, I don't know, some of that puke might have landed on floor.

How do I know you didn't bother to look or didn't look hard enough? Because several minutes later, as you prepared to leave, I looked up to see a tendril of that milky puke strung between the bottom of your shoe and a spot of puke -- one of several -- on the floor.

It remained there after you left for someone else to clean up or track through the restaurant, maybe even into the food-preparation area!

Look: I'm not one of those curmudgeons who objects to the presence of babies and small children in restaurants. I couldn't do my job if I did! I dine at a restaurant almost every day of the week, sometimes twice a day, and more often than not there's at least one ankle-biter underfoot (underfoot sometimes literally, ankle-biter not -- at least not yet).

However, as someone who's seen far too many times how a cantankerous kid or the inevitable but not unclean-up-able mess babies tend to create can spoil someone else's meal, I feel compelled to remind you that your children are your responsibility, and their messes -- even in a restaurant where you've paid your own good money to dine -- belong to no one else.

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