Smarmy Alligator

Politics, pop culture, and self-deprecation

Drinking with Babies

with one comment

If you live in a city with a lot of young, hip parents, or if you’re ever on the internet, you have probably heard snippets of the great war between the parents and the non-parents that seems to be going on a little bit everywhere these days. One of the main battles in this war is whether or not parents should be allowed to bring their small children into bars. My guess is that when you read that sentence your first thought was, “Oh my god, NO, parents should not be able to bring their children into bars, HELLO?!” And I’m going to tell you right up front that I agree with you. But as usual, I’m not unfamiliar with the grey areas that float around this particular debate.

When I lived in Boston, I frequented a neighborhood pub, in the best sense of the phrase. This place was down the street from my house and I knew all the regulars. We were involved in each others’ lives, and not only when we were inside those four wood-paneled walls. We were friends. And occasionally, these friends had babies. I loved it when someone would drop by with their babies, because babies are cute! This usually happened in the late afternoon, and the parents of said babies weren’t there to tie one on. They’d have one beer, if any, and head on their way, after we all got to fawn over the little person. This seemed totally normal to me.

Every now and then, someone would bring a child to the bar at a later hour, when there were drunk people around and the music was loud and very likely there were unsavory things going on in at least one dark corner. This never seemed normal to me. This, in fact, seemed very wrong. If there are drunk strangers around, your child probably shouldn’t be there, is all I’m saying.

I would like to be able to say that every parent should be able to make a judgement call, and at the end of the day, of course, that’s always what I’m going to say. Every parent has the right to decide for his or her own children which environments are acceptable. But some parents decide that very adult environments are ok for their very young children, and that is where this idea of personal choice breaks down for me. Some parents are always going to make terrible choices, and that doesn’t just suck for their children (although, you know, it sucks for their children the most). It’s also completely uncomfortable for the adults in that environment who chose not to bring their children (or have them at all). There are just some places that are for grown-ups only, and when I hear parents bitching about how they should be able to bring their kids wherever they want, I just feel befuddled.

The thing is, even though I loved it when my friends brought their cute babies to the bar, when I’m a parent, I will probably never do this. Because, no matter how friendly, a bar is for adults. If you really want to have a drink with your friends and your baby, find a nice restaurant that serves cocktails, and try to leave before the drunks show up. This is what parenting is, after all: It’s sacrificing the things you want to do for the little person you chose to give birth to.

I recognize this judgment call will likely piss off a lot of people (well, if anyone actually read this blog). Especially because I don’t have children. I mean, who am I do tell a parent what kinds of choices to make, right? I guess to that I say that I hope that parents can occasionally try to think of others outside their nuclear unit, and that they can recognize how uncomfortable it can be for a group of adults in a place designated for an adult activity to suddenly feel like they’re in a nursery. Perhaps the best way to get that feeling across would be for a group of childless adults to show up at Gymboree with a case of beer and start hanging out. It would probably feel a little wrong, huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought.


Written by laura k

March 4, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

One Response

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  1. You are so right! There are some places that are just for adults and those social rules exist so people who make poor choices for themselves and their children can be guided in the right direction. Your example of adults showing up to Gymboree to drink and hang out is spot on…it’s not ok and neither is bringing your child to the bar.

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