Katie Leach was enjoying dinner at a Texas Roadhouse in Idaho with her 11-month-old son and the rest of her family when a middle-aged woman disrupted their meal.
As Leach detailed in a Facebook post, the woman slammed a piece of paper down on the dinner table, gave her a stern look and returned to her friend at her seat behind Leach, according to KTVB, a local Idaho news station.
"Thank you for ruining our dinner with your screaming kid! Sincerely, the table behind you,” was written on the piece of paper.
Leach and the woman exchanged words thereafter, with Leach saying she had every right to bring her child, who was still learning social etiquette, into the restaurant. The woman protested that the baby was being rude, and that her grandchildren would never act that way, according to Leach’s post.
Leach then talked to the manager, who asked the two women to leave after they finished their meals. The manager paid for Leach’s meal and said they could come back anytime.
But the note left a bad taste in Leach’s mouth.
“Today was the first day I had to stick up for my son for being well, just a baby. I have never felt so hurt and protective over him, it broke my heart that there are really rude people out there,” Leach wrote.
This isn’t the first time someone has expressed concern over babies crying in public. Just last week, Rebekka Garvison’s baby Rylee cried during a flight from Chicago to Atlanta, inspiring “annoyed looks” from the rest of the plane, ABC News reported. The couple in the two seats next to her even appeared annoyed, according to Garvison’s Facebook post.
So Garvison switched seats, where she found Nyfesha Miller, a young mom from Michigan. The mom asked Garvison if she could hold the crying Rylee, and when she did, Rylee fell asleep and stopped crying, according to ABC News.
"She (Miller) was such a relief and so calming to me,” Garvison wrote in a Facebook post. “I was already stressed and then seeing everyone else's faces, that just made it even worse.”
Similarly, a theater performance of “The King and I” was disrupted last Wednesday by a child with autism, who reacted loudly during a scene in the second act of the play, according to the New York Daily News. The child’s reaction inspired boos and hushes from the audience, leading to the mother removing her child from the play.
One mother has even been kicked off a bus because her child was screaming.
All of these examples show many people feel concern over children crying or screaming in public. That’s why some have called for child-free environments. In fact, there are a number of restaurants throughout the United States that don’t allow children under 10 years old inside because of potential disturbances, according to CNN’s Kate Krader.
Some also want to see child-free airline flights. For example, earlier this year, journalist Kelly Rose Bradford called for child-free airline flights, or, at the very least, planes that have separate seating for families, according to Yahoo! Travel.
“We’ve got business class, we’ve got first class, why can’t we have a family section?“ she told a talk show called "This Morning." "Surely that would be better for everybody? You’ve got miserable, moany people like me who do not want your delightful children wailing in my ear for my flight.”
The debate over the idea inspired a #ChildFreeFlights hashtag, which included people advocating for and against the idea.
I took my 1yr old on hol in June and I wont be going on a plane with him again for a while! Parents know their children! #childfreeflights— Busy Working Mummy (@busyworkingmum1) August 27, 2015
I don't agree with #childfreeflights but I don't think kids under 2 should be free. This discourages parents and enables plenty of room.— Jake King✈✈✈✈ (@AZJake) September 9, 2015
For those thinking #childfreeflights well, I have never seen babies in first class! Next time you travel get yourself a first class seat!— Jose G Rojas (@thecostaricaguy) August 17, 2015
Some airlines have already placed restrictions on what ages children are free to travel by themselves, according to our own Lois Collins. Most airlines also admit that flying with a child can sometimes be an arduous experience for parents, Collins wrote.
But experts told Yahoo! Travel many airlines won’t “even entertain the notion” of a child-free airline because it would alienate and upset some customers.
“So the debate of kids and airplanes will probably rage on, provoking more noise from aggrieved parents and anti-crying adults than any baby could muster,” Yahoo! Travel reported.
In the meantime, parents with screaming babies or children with disabilities should feel fine going out in public with their children, despite their screaming habits, according to Kelvin Moon Loh, of “The King and I” play.
“Not everybody out there is out to cast a judgmental eye," he wrote. "There are people out there who genuinely help and would be happy to share the experience with you and your family."
Parents can also work to help their child cut down on screaming, according to Baby Center, which suggests parents make sure their child has a proper sleeping schedule so that they won’t be cranky during the day. It also may be good for parents to “make a game out of it,” like playing the quiet game.
And, if all else fails, Baby Center suggests parents take their children to loud and informal settings.
“When you have your toddler in tow, stay away from quiet, intimate, or formal places,” according to Baby Center. “Instead, go where other families go. You'll be less embarrassed when your child screams in an already loud restaurant, and less likely to reinforce her behavior by trying to cajole her into settling down.”
For more on child-free environments:
Herb Scribner is a writer for Deseret News National. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @herbscribner.