Whole Lotta Fussin’ Goin’ On

Perhaps you’ve heard about the latest viral controversy that has gripped the entire nation. The curious incident of the fussy toddler versus the fussy restaurant owner versus the fussy parents of toddler. I’m not clear on the details but I take it one tantrum led to another and things escalated so fast people from Tanzania are currently offering their profanity-laced opinions on reddit.

One gloomy Maine day, Darla Neugebauer (no relation to author), owner of Marcy’s Diner in Portland, screamed at a toddler to “shut the hell up” after listening to her cry into her pancakes for nearly an hour in the midst of a packed diner. Darla went on to tell the parents to leave by throwing to-go boxes at them and yelling, “Either she goes or you go.”

Darla Marcy's Diner
Look — I’ve got teeny tiny braids and I’m not afraid to use ’em so back off, buddy!

The shocked parents, who were visiting from that other shining beacon of good manners, New York City, jumped on Facebook to promptly give Marcy’s Diner a bad review. Darla responded with some blunt profanity-filled rants of her own and suddenly people all over the planet were offering their opinions on parenting, public behavior and pancakes. Personally, I like mine with the cute smiley face made out of blueberries.

Since I’m from Maine, my name is also Darla, and I once was a parent of a toddler who made a living throwing epic tantrums, I thought I’d give both sides some unsolicited advice. Because as we all know, that’s the best kind of advice.

To the parents:

  • Next time order scrambled eggs.
  • The second your child starts crying, pick her up and run out the door screaming, “WHY? WHY? WHY?” Then sit in your car with your screaming kid the rest of the meal and watch your husband eat his bacon in peace, the smug bastard.
  • When dining out, always assess the level of noise that is spewing from your toddler’s mouth. Is it a low-level whine? More of a loud blubbering? Or are wine glasses shattering in the next town? Then act accordingly.
  • Always take time into consideration. As parents we are naturally conditioned to endure endless whining and crying that would make most non-parents scratch their own eyes out with a plastic fork. As a general rule, one minute to a parent = eternity for everyone else within earshot.
  • Having a kid means sometimes you can’t do things you once used to enjoy. Like spending a leisurely meal at a restaurant without everyone else glaring at you. Taking an uninterrupted shower. Reading a book. Sitting. Thinking. That little bundle of joy will interfere with your every waking moment whether you like it or not. Don’t worry, this only lasts until you die.
  • When Darla said to you on Facebook, “”You are lucky I didn’t get really f—ing nuts because being physical is not something I cower from,” keep in mind she speaks the ancient dialect of Maineiacese, a crude language born from extensive cabin fever due to the 100 inches of snow we got last winter. What Darla really meant to say was, “Thank you for your patronage, please come again.”

To Darla:

  • Next time try not to slam your hands down on the grill and scream directly at the toddler. Instead take three deep breaths and calmly suggest to the parents through gritted teeth that they eat their cold pancakes out in the rainy parking lot like any good parent would do. Like they always say, you can catch more social media firestorm with vinegar than with pancake syrup.
  • Take a crash course in how social media works. First rule: Do not piss off the NYC parents.
  • Who’s Marcy? Where the hell was she during this whole smack-down?
  • Because you are not a parent yourself, just for the shits and giggles take the nearest fussy, pancake-deprived toddler with a full diaper out to the busiest restaurant in town. Bon appetit!
  • Please keep up your brazenly crass curmudgeon attitude. It’s finally taken the spotlight off our governor.

In conclusion, I believe this squabble will only be resolved when Darla is forced to spend an entire day with the toddler and in return the NYC parents have to spend an entire day flipping pancakes with Darla.

What are your thoughts? Do you enjoy dining out in peace and quiet? Do you think fussy kids have a right to eat a meal too? Do you enjoy flipping pancakes? Would you make me some? Who’s Marcy? Please leave your controversial comments in the section below and I will agree with all of them.

101 thoughts on “Whole Lotta Fussin’ Goin’ On

  1. Neither side handled it well. There were about 3 years when my son was little that we couldn’t go to restaurants with him at all. It was take out, get it from the grocery store already cooked, or pizza, if I wasn’t up to cooking. Thank goodness he grew out of that stage before hitting puberty.

    1. I am not being overly dramatic when I tell you that my son was so unbelievably horrible at restaurants, I didn’t get to have a quiet sit-down meal with my husband in almost five years. We would have to take turns eating out. First he’d gobble down his salad, while I walked our son around the restaurant then we’d switch.

  2. I’m with both Darlas.

    Seriously, a screaming kid in a restaurant for an hour? This is likely not the first time this toddler has done that. It is also probably not the first time restaurant personnel have, ummm, commented.

    We all have been there. And we have all been more considerate.

    1. Yep. I do understand what it’s like to have a fussy toddler and I also understand what it’s like when your entire meal is ruined because of the fussy kid at the table next to you. I think if we all just acted more considerate on both sides we could eat more pancakes.

  3. Relax

    Good points, so that almost all of what I’m about to say will be moot, but I have had 4 kids and I most assuredly would not let them torment others for an hour, nor even half, nor even one quarter of an hour. Others did not sign on for one or more of my kids, and more importantly, they put down money in good faith to not be tormented in a public place of business — just as I did/do after my kids grew up. I do wish Darla Noogiebanger would come to my church and put the fear of MaineJesus into some little kids’ parents there. Almost every week, it’s an hour-long contest with the priest.

    1. I was raised to be mindful of everyone around me at all times. When my own eardrums are shattering because of my toddler’s incessant crying, then it’s time to leave and spare others as well. I think Darla (Noogiebanger, haha!) did need a bit more tact and less screaming in her delivery. But really, she was flipping pancakes all day for tourists so she was bound to crack at some point.

  4. Oh how I heart you, Darla. I agree with you on all points, except that I’d have Dad take the screaming child out to the car so he can bang his head against the steering wheel while listening to aforementioned screaming child and watching Mom eat her bacon in blessed peace.

    Also, my biggest quibble with Darla is that she screamed at the toddler–it’s not the toddler’s fault, because that’s what toddlers do. It’s their job. Screaming at the kid is like screaming at an alligator for trying to bite your arm off. That’s what alligators do. Instead, she should have aimed her invective directly at the parents–my esteemed New York City colleagues. They’re the ones who deserved an educating. And if I ever run into them here, I’ll bitch slap them into next week.

    And yeah, where the hell was Marcy in all this? What kind of place does she run? Hmmmph.

    1. Weebs!!! Hey there, lady!

      I totally agree, she needed to aim it more at the parents. Shockingly, she’s not a parent herself and probably thinks all a tantrumming toddler needs is a good screaming. As most parents will tell you, kids have the uncanny ability to not behave like you wish they’d behave. Being annoying as hell is what they do best.

  5. I own neither a toddler nor a pancake griddle, but sympathies are with the other patrons. The sound of a crying child makes me want to set fire to my ovaries, which is why I am awed by parents. They are the emergency responders running toward the explosion while I am fleeing as fast as my legs will carry me, a topic I recently discussed in my blog post, “Babies are Stupid and Useless.” (http://whenyoustopdigging.com/2015/04/06/babies-are-stupid-and-useless/) I love your blog; I’m from N.H. and a good jeezum-crow always warms the cockles of my heart (where exactly are the cockles, anyway?) Cheers on the post!

  6. “Please keep up your brazenly crass curmudgeon attitude. It’s finally taken the spotlight off our governor.” ROTFLMAO.

    I’m with Madame Weebles. Toddlers are expected to scream, parents are expected to remove toddlers when they scream for more than a few minutes, and servers are expected to not act like toddlers when telling parents they have piss poor parenting skills.

    Also, don’t go into the Everglades and expect the alligators to ignore you.

  7. Brilliant post? Check.
    Biting commentary on a hot topic? Of course.
    Make me shoot Diet Pepsi (caffeine-free) out of my nose, rather painfully? Natch.

    What I want to know is what percentage of Mainers are named Darla? Is there an ordinance about that? And is there any possible way I can NOT call you Darla Noogiebomber from now on?

    1. Of course I would be thrilled if you called me Darla Noogiebomber! (now iced tea is shooting out my nostrils…) I think normally the total percent of Darlas here in Maine hovers around 20%, with 10% of us having tiny braids and 1% being as bitchy as all get-out.

  8. Deborah the Closet Monster

    The “unsolicited advice” comment made me LOL. I once shared my own feelings on such unsolicited advice at a diner.

    If a kid is really going nuts, and I mean REALLY, maybe that is not the best time to stay at a diner. Other than that, parents need to be able to basic human things like, oh, eat. Socialize. Our parents once took us to restaurants without, generally, an expectation ALL elements of the dining experience would be absolutely ideal to everyone attending. Not sure when that expectation shifted into the realm of, “come on, now.”

    If someone wants/needs a very particular dining experience on a particular occasion, that someone should probably order take-out. There are way fewer variables to go “wrong” in the quiet of home. In others’ company? Anything can and might happen. It’s crappy planning to end up throwing a fit because life outside your house demands you interact with people outside your house.

    1. For me, it all comes down to the volume, mobility and length of time of the tantrum. How loud is it? How much does the kid move around?

      My son used to do things like run around the restaurant, snatching everyone’s spoons off their tables and running away cackling, falling to the floor in middle of restaurant kicking and screaming, climbing over back of booth and screaming into some poor woman’s ear, etc. Picture the Tasmanian devil hyped up on sugar. I don’t think anyone should be subjected to that. Especially me as his mom.

      But if the kid’s just crying a bit or making a mild ruckus here and there, that might be doable. I’m all for letting kids be kids for sure. I guess it all comes down to being considerate of those with kids and of those without kids but especially considerate of those pancakes because someone has to eat them.

      1. I’d even go a step further. If the kid is being lectured about the misbehaviour, allright, it is a learning experience the kid can only have at a restaurant. But if, like in this case, the parents do nothing about it or the kid has gotten themselves so much into a fit that it cannot be reached anymore, any parent should see that this is misbehaviour and the kid should not be allowed to show it. My parents were ashamed when I teased another visitor in a café with a peacock feather! I was definitely told off.

      2. I grew up in the 1970s where kids were told off on a daily basis. My parents were pretty blunt about what was expected of us as far as behavior in public. My mom never hesitated to yell at us. She had six kids, five of them boys so it was a matter of her keeping her sanity with us hellions.

    2. “Our parents once took us to restaurants without, generally, an expectation ALL elements of the dining experience would be absolutely ideal to everyone attending.”

      The problem is when the people experiencing the far-from-ideal experience are the ones seated at surrounding tables. I agree with you that people need to be tolerant of children (I think you wrote a post about this not too long ago, right?) But dammit, no, parents do NOT have a right to take bratty kids to restaurants and make other diners uncomfortable!

      Here’s where I’m coming from … Himself is very hard of hearing. My ears ain’t all that great either (apparently it’s catching.) We also live on a fairly tight budget. So when we go out for dinner, it’s at least somewhat of a special occasion. And when there’s a bored, overtired, hungry kid loudly acting out at the next table, our time together, our ability to converse and enjoy a meal prepared by someone else, is ruined. Are you seriously saying that we should simply order takeout and forego the pleasure of eating out because it’s too much to expect parents to control their children?

  9. I am in complete agreement that both sides handled this extremely poorly. My mom was the kind of mom who would remove us from of a store/restaurant/movie theater when we were actin’ a fool. It’s not fair to force the rest of the patrons of these establishments listen to your child have a Category 5 meltdown.

    However, even as a childfree person, I would never scream at a child like that. I’ve politely asked children to stop kicking the back of my seat, or to stop throwing food over the booth at a restaurant. I have never once thought, “You know what will work? Losing my shit and yelling like a complete psychopath.

    Owner- 0

    1. Exactly, it’s in the delivery. I think Darla shouldn’t have screamed at the innocent starving child. And I do think some parents think the world revolves around them and their precious spawn. I suspect Darla lost her shit some time ago and might need to find a new career where she’s not flipping flapjacks for toddlers.

      1. Actually, a lot of the time it does. I have had some hostile parents get in my face and yell about it not being my kids, blah blah blah. However, for the most part the kid either listens straight away or the parent does something about it.

      2. I’ve noticed a strange phenomena, that sometimes a kid will only listen if it’s coming from a stranger. I think they’re programmed to fully ignore their own parents, it’s nature’s order of things. Kind of like whenever I have a play date at my house and I tell the kid’s parents their child behaved like a perfect angel, they always look stunned and say, “MY child behaved? Get out!”

  10. First of all I make the most fabulous pan cakes. My dad taught me the secret. Now about out of control children, be it a restaurant, church or any indoor function where other people have to listen to your children. Please take them outside to see if you can calm them down. I raised two daughters and a grand son, trust me it’s the only right way to go.

  11. This article is so well-written I feel a tantrum coming on.

    Paying 10x or more for food isn’t just about the possibility of eating the kitchen’s spit. It’s also about the “experience.” That’s supposed to be the deal. If not, restaurants wouldn’t exist.

    We’re all different. Some people love children. Some don’t. Some, like me, are like, “Hey, that thing is still breathing … and I can hear it!

    I think the solution is simple. There should be places that are kid-friendly and other places for adults. Then people would be free to choose their experience. Hint: The kid-free places are called bars. Hint: Parents still haul their children there, too. If there’s one thing kids really need it’s exposure to the alcohol-infused lifestyle. This is called “training.”

    I pity any restaurant that tries a “no children” policy because the breeder crowd will come down on them like a ton of poopy diapers and make them pay.

  12. I love it when something easily solvable goes to hell. It makes me happy that people are really stupid at heart.

    First of all, while we are all weighing in our opinions, why on earth were they eating in a diner in Maine during the summer? Unless they have allergies or they just don’t like the stuff, this is lobster season.

    Secondly, I bet Darla cracked after hearing all sorts of half-assed pleas from the parents to get the child to stop crying instead of the parents taking control and getting the child out of the restaurant. Imagine listening to “Don’t cry, Janie. How about your fishie? No, you don’t want that? Just try some pancake? For me? Come on!” for an hour. So the crying plus the parents ineffectual attempts to remedy the situation probably didn’t help.

    Thirdly, I agree with the others. Darla Noodlebanger attacked what she thought was the source of the problem…the crying child. Being that she does not have kids of her own, she does not understand that there is no way you can control the emotions of this tiny human being. All you can do is remove the tiny human being from the situation and do what you can to address the emotions with whatever tools that you have. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Very poor judgement on her part.

  13. The whole thing was really just lost on me. Why would you take a toddler out, order them food, and then not give it to them? Why would you stay if your child was screaming? Why would you yell at said screaming kid? I know she doesn’t have children, but I THOUGHT it was common knowledge that yelling at children does not make them quieter. You’re lucky if it does anything positive at all. Generally, it causes more tears and screaming (and now everyone has to listen to you yell too). Oh, and after an hour of that, why say anything? If someone’s dining experience was going to be ruined, it happened in the first five minutes of the tantrum.

    My son bothers other diners by waving and smiling at them (the lucky ones get a, “hey!”). It’s arguably more disruptive than the screaming, and I can’t convince him to pay attention to the table where he’s sitting. We just don’t take him out when it’s busy except to places where there are also other children screaming and generally misbehaving.

  14. Oh man, this confrontation was the stuff that social media dreams are made of. Take tantrumming toddler, throw in a dash of clueless parents, mix well with frazzled restaurateur who has had to endure one-too-many brunches with obnoxious kids. Voila! A pancake that EVERYONE has an opinion about.

    1. I know, this is the kind of fake news people have been waiting for. A chance to spew an opinion and pick a side. Let the fun begin! By the way, they were planning a protest outside her diner this Sunday but it was canceled.

  15. I thought this whole thing was entirely hilarious. Out of control kid? Entitled parents? Hahahahaha! I’m a teacher. Welcome to my freakin’ world.
    I think we all need a real problem.

  16. Great advice! Danny and I went to a very casual restaurant where someone else’s kids climbed all over us. Yes. This happened. I was going to write about it, but I figured people would think I was exaggerating. One kid drew with her soda straw on my arm. I didn’t say a word to the parents since the husband was a business acquaintance of Danny’s, but next time I’m going to tell the parents to control their children. I’m not a jungle gym.

    1. I personally was always dying of embarrassment whenever my son started behaving like that. This is why I didn’t go out to eat for years. My daughter was the opposite. She was polite and sat still at the table from an early age.

  17. I think people are way too concerned with the opinions of the parents, the restaurant owner, and other patrons. But what about the toddler’s opinion? What if the panky was legitimately too lumpy? What about the frustration of having to make a hard choice between eating and making a poopoo?

    1. I am so glad you brought that up, X. I really think Fox News needs to investigate this toddler and ask the hard questions. Did the pancakes taste like crap? Were your parents acting like jerks? I think we could find out the real story about what happened finally.

  18. I’m glad you wrote this reflective piece. I just got caught up on this action. When my child was a babe he cried constantly because he had the reflux problem. It was non-stop, Darla! To this day, it was the toughest year of my life. I remember I had to gradually accept that I couldn’t eat out, ever, or have a conversation lasting more than one minute, for real. I think this whole thing could have been better handled on both sides. They might be so used to the fussy toddler that they didn’t realize. Where’s the video? That’s what I want to know. Did no one get video?

    1. Yep, I know all about the reflux. My son had horrible colic, reflux, asthma, milk allergy, sensory issues etc. etc. He was an absolute terror back then behavior-wise. So we just never really went out to eat for a few years. I couldn’t subject other people to his behavior. Thankfully, he’s 12 now and the most considerate and sweet boy and can actually sit quiet at a restaurant.

      Good point, where’s the video?? Seems like pretty much everything is caught on iPhones today.

  19. No matter how thin the pancake … there are still 2 sides.

    However, I probably lean more with Darla than the inconsiderate a__hole parents. Why? Cause I’ve had young whiny kids and we either 1) didn’t go out to eat because of it or 2) if they “started in,” we left. Period. End of story.

    Toddlers are terrorists, any reasonable person knows that 🙂


    1. Exactly how I feel. If the baby is just a bit fussy or crying a little here and there, fine. But if it’s a meltdown or nonstop crying, take them outside to help calm them or leave. My feeling is, even though I chose to have kids, the other people in the restaurant did not make that choice so why should I force them to endure tantrums. It’s kind of like smoking in a restaurant to me. If you want to smoke do it far away from me.

  20. I knew nothing about this until I read it in your blog. Thank you, intrepid reporter.

    You ARE Solomon. In a plaid dress.

    I don’t approve of Darla’s outbursts but in her defense, crying, whiny, spoiled New York children DO make my teeth grind. I see them on a semi-regular basis and some of them simply need a good swift spoken-to, if you know what I mean. So, yeah, you go Darla. I’m in her corner on this.

    1. I suspect Darla has dealt with one too many tourist toddlers in that diner and this one finally made her crack. She’s getting so much publicity now though. It’s gone all over the world. The news today is someone is posting on Facebook posing as her diner and so now she’s filing a defamation lawsuit. I don’t think this story is going to fade away for some time.

  21. I wouldn’t have known this had it not been for you. Micro-braid-lady seems like, so put it mildly, an epic wanker. What a douchebag. I think I would have popped my cork if I saw someone doing that to a little kid. Hey, because I don’t have kids it’s totally okay to yell at a two-year-old!

    Anyway, this gives me a fine business idea for opening a diner that only caters to screaming kids, cause screaming kids – they gotta eat.

    1. What really killed me about Darla was I watching watching a live interview with her on our local TV news and right in the middle of the interview the phone rang. Darla actually stopped talking to the reporter (this was live) to answer the phone. hahaha! Oh my! I have never seen that in my life. She really is a piece of work in short braids. But that’s a typical Mainer, very blunt and in-your-face.

  22. I feel bad for Becky. There is no way Chris Christie and Paul Lepage will ever campaign at her diner again. Not when Marcy’s gets so much (bad) press! Big bullies, big pancakes, little grills and little braids.. the stuff of legend.

  23. Holy crap. No shortage of comments here! Most of us are parents. MOST of us have had to listen to a toddler scream the entire hour we were eating our meal after paying an extra $40 to leave OUR screaming toddlers at home, so as not to wreck someone’s evening. (Sheesh, how many times I’ve done THAT.) Needless to say, I feel for the parents of the tantruming toddler, but an HOUR?! They apparently slept through Parenting 101 and deserved to get reprimanded.

    I’m surprised the whole restaurant patronage wasn’t doing the job of ‘The Village’ by making that toddler smile with a big dollop of ketchup squeezed on the table (finger-painting) or a pile of french fries (for tossing at his parents) or a few packets of sugar (’cause who wouldn’t like that?).

    Your next to last point to the parents really hit home, Lady. Hope you’re having a fantastic summer. Your friend in dirt and kids — Shannon.

    1. That reminds me of what I would do to calm my own son down at restaurants. We’d let him play with the sugar packets or stack the little half and half containers. We’d bring crayons and a pad of paper. We’d let him play with his hot wheels cars on the window sill. In short, we did everything we could think of to occupy him. And you’re right that’s Parenting 101. You don’t just plop your toddler down then expect them to sit there quietly like a little adult.

      1. And I’m guessing that you learned these methods by trial and error, trying everything until something, ANYTHING, made your child happy again. Amiright?

        I have no idea who these people are that just sit and ignore-parent their children in public settings. Perhaps they need to go to France where every does it, but here? In America? We are HELICOPTERS, dag nabbit.

  24. Love this post – am tired of hearing about who was worse – both were wrong, and two wrongs doesn’t make a right (right, Mom?). But the thing you said that resonates the most with me? At least no one is paying any attention to Pepe Le Peu this week. (as my aunt refers to our esteemed governor.)
    Here’s one for you – picture the guv and the diner Darla and the tot facing off. What do you think would happen? 🙂

  25. I think pancakes are overrated. Just give the kid the syrup, give them a sugar high, then put the child out in the car in a rainy parking lot. Hopefully it’s not really hot outside, cold and rainy should be cooler. Drive the child around the block for at least two hours, letting your pancakes get cold, and the child should fall asleep from the car ride. 🙂

  26. I remember the days when I thought it would be a good idea to bring the kids out to eat … it will be fun I said. I’m with Darla. The parents should have taken the child outside and ate their cold breakfast back at home like considerate people. Darla waited too long to intervene … slamming her hands on the counter was a little over the top, but I’ve been over the top so I get it.

    1. “It will be fun, I said.” hahaha! Ohhhhh how naive we are as parents. Each time I went out to eat I remember thinking, this time my son will behave and we will eat our food uninterrupted. (shakes head)

      Yes, in hindsight, she shouldn’t have been so dramatic. But listening to another kid’s child cry/whine for an hour in a little diner would probably make the most patient among us crack.

  27. Our son was subject to “epic tantrums” too. He is still a pain in the a– in restaurants and he’s over 50! We failed somewhere in parenting. I admit that. Sigh. 😦

    1. It took a very long time before our son could behave in a restaurant. I think he was around 7 or 8 when he started to calm down and not run around like a maniac. Still to this day, he’s almost 13 but he takes a Nintendo DS game with him to occupy his mind if he gets bored. Not the best parenting tactic but hey, at least he keeps the volume down and doesn’t start dancing on the tables.

  28. What’s even worse is a crying kid on an airplane. On my last flight the airline seated me between two crying children. I begged the stewardess to put those crying kids in the back of the plane or kick them off, but she said I’d have to move too since airline policy required children to sit with a parent.

  29. Funny post! I remember when my husband and I couldn’t sit through a restaurant meal with our two boys. When they got old enough to order a beer before dinner things improved considerably.

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