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Rumpus at the dinner table leads to a drama in three scenes

By Lin Jinghua | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-03 09:25
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[Liang Luwen/China Daily]

It had all the makings of a modern morality tale, and it did not disappoint.

The setting: A restaurant in Dalian, Liaoning province, one Friday night recently.

The players: A grumpy college student in her 20s, a woman named Song in her 30s, two rowdy, rampaging four-year-olds, a waiter, the police and a chair.

The spectators: A restaurant full of diners and a country of netizens whose appetite for a bit of biff seems to be insatiable.

Scene one: Song and a girlfriend go to the restaurant, each taking their 4-year-old daughters with them. The little darlings have just been to a dancing lesson together, so surely they will by now know exactly where to put their feet and in any case have no energy left to get up to mischief, right? Wrong.

The two women chatter away about this and that as the two young rascals cause mayhem in the already noisy restaurant, running to and fro, this way and that, between and around tables.

Scene two: The young student, sitting at another table not far away is reaching breaking point as she looks at and listens to the two girls do their best to be naughty. The student will later reveal that burning away in her at the time was upset over a ruckus she had had earlier with her boyfriend. Finally it all gets too much, she rises from her seat, makes a beeline toward another seat where the two girls are playing and proceeds to kick one of the girls-or the chair, depending on whose version you believe.

Outraged Song rushes to her daughter's rescue, hits the young woman and slaps a waiter who tries to intervene. Soon police are on the scene trying to sort out the mess.

Scene three: Song and the student go to the local jing cha ju to, as the British would say, help police with their inquiries. Eventually good sense prevails, Song and the student apologized to each other and Dalian, China and the world are at peace again-temporarily.

For it seems that Song, having managed to expiate her anger, ruminates over everything on the way home and decides that justice must be given a voice. She will vent her spleen in that modern-day town square where the pillories are located: social networking sites.

There she rips into the woman she had earlier apologized to.

"If you think my child disturbed you, you should have come to me," she screams. "You could have beat me. Yes, I admit I was at fault for not keeping my daughter under control. So I can say sorry to you, but how dare you kick a small child."


The ever attentive spectating netizens are of course as fast as ever to take sides, and to cast votes or cast stones. In this enterprise two other parties also take up the cudgels on opposing sides, mainstream media, which seem to side with Song, and social media, which predominantly side with the student.

Many internet users give their moral support to the young woman, saying there are too many spoilt children around misbehaving in public. Had they been in the student's place they would have lashed out with a foot, too, they say.

"If parents can't teach their own children, others are going to have to do it," one says.

"What this mess shows is that both the mother and the student lack basic family education," one of my friends chips in. "It's what many Chinese lack."

What is clear in all of this is that some Chinese tend to be unaware of their social surroundings, and some parents always find excuses for their misbehaving children, saying they are too young to know any better.

Of course, the mother ought to have given her daughter lessons on how to behave in public, and the student ought to have complained to the mother about the rumpus rather than taking it out on a chair or a child. And of course the mother should not have hit the young woman or the waiter.

Children will always misbehave, but there really must be limits.

In this tale only three players seem to have come out with any credit: the waiter who tried to keep the women apart, the police who seem to have acted perfectly as peacemakers, and that chair.

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