Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What's on Tap?

"I find people with children to be tyrants," she said. "As someone who doesn't have children, I think children are fine. I don't think they own everything." (1)

Recently there have been a number of articles in The New York Times and Washington Post with negative commentary on parents of toddlers and babies hanging out in bars or popular restaurants.

This is not a new war -- parent v. non-parent brawls have been raging since the 80's. But now I have a perspective from both sides.

Among the apparent blights on a restaurant or bar's ambience is the intrepid stroller. I get that.

We got the Bugaboo Chameleon and all of its tricked out humvee glory. And man, is it a pain in the tuckus. It is bulky, heavy and maneuvers around corners with the agility of a rhinoceros.

I much prefer our current slimline Maclaren fold up - leaves us lots of space for the party of four at the table next to us -- make that six -- oh wait seven - to add chairs to their table as their friends decide to join them for dinner.

Another infringement on the dining / drinking experience is the child. They talk. Apparently, loudly. In a cafe. During happy hour.

That young whipper snapper generation thinks of everything! The new bar happy hour - a quiet, contemplative space. Genius!

But seriously, babies and children are loud. They can disrupt the low murmur of respectable adults enjoying an adult experience in a lovely setting.

They can...*ring* All the single ladies! *ring* All the single ladies! *ring* "Hello? We are at the steak house. What? Speak up I cannot hear you!"

...they can...

"Yeah, that steak house. No the last time we got seafood I got sick, remember? In July. I said July! Yeah, it was awful."

...pardon the interruption, there is someone across the room taking a cell call...

"So where are you? Let me ask. Frank wants to know where we are going next? Wait, Frank let me call you back, it's really loud in here! There's a baby ya know. A baby I said! Okay let me call you back."

Uh-huh. The baby is always the problem.

Yes, there are parents who treat the public landscape like their own personal daycare. Yes, I have wanted to throttle a munchkin or two on the airplane.


Giving birth does not regulate one to the house after 4pm.

No, I am not going to haul widdums to the bar with me at 9pm and throw back a few before a couple of rounds of beer pong. But yes, when said pub has outside seating and it is 6pm on a Friday of a long week, yeah, I am going hook up the booster seat and grab a libation.

Not only is it my responsibility as a parent to pay attention to the environment in which I introduce my child but I am equally responsible to pay attention to how my child interacts with that environment.

I am aware of those around me - but I cannot help it if Baby C is having a bad day. I'll move as quickly as possible to extricate the wailing time bomb. What I wish is that everyone else had the same consideration - those with AND without children.

But I am not hoisting the gangplank for 18 years before I venture in to a three star restaurant with my whole family.

(1) New Baby Boom Fosters Culture Clash: Parents vs. Public Spaces By Annys Shin, Washington Post Staff Writer , Sunday, May 16, 2010.

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