Sisterhood Blog

Parents Gone Wild: Babies in Bars

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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Here’s what I want to know: when did parenting become entitlement to impose young children on people around you in places which were, not long ago, understood to be adult spaces?

A mom recently posted on a local listserv, called Park Slope Parents, that she’s offended by a neighborhood pub with a sign on its door that bans children after 5 p.m.

“So, does anyone know if this practice is legal? Obviously kids can’t order a pint, but what about a burger?” she posted.

She goes on to explain that regardless of the ban’s legality, she doesn’t plan on going back, and adds, in what seems to be a huffy tone, “There are many other places where my business would be welcome.” Hesitant though I am to step into something that might get me flamed on this listerv, to which thousands of people subscribe, I just had to respond.

I posted:

Really, aren’t there places, even in Park Slope, where people are entitled to go after work to relax without having to deal with crying/fussing babies nearby? Why is that offensive to parents?

Let’s face it, folks, there is a (short) period in our lives as parents when it may not be possible to go out to every place we wish we could patronize.

Truth is, lately my neighborhood, which borders Park Slope, has been turning into a place just as overrun with rug rats (which the author of another local blog unfelicitously calls “crotch fruit”), and it feels kind of annoying, even though I’m just a few years out of stroller pushing myself.

As I posted on Park Slope Parents:

Even though I’m not much of a bar-hopper myself, I am annoyed when young kids are in the rare movie that I can get out to see. I’m there (in part) for a break from my kids - why would I want to listen to someone else’s crying or whining for more goldfish crackers?

Likewise, I’ve been slightly annoyed the several recent times that I’ve gone out with my husband for nice, romantic, Saturday-night dates at grown-up restaurants and had to work around someone’s stroller at the next table, or had to listen to them make kissy-baby noises to their newly-awakened infant.

I got a few private, and a couple of publicly posted, notes of support from other moms who evidently share my retrograde feelings.

I’m just perplexed by what seems to me to be a new sense of entitlement among some young parents, who evidently don’t think that having an infant (with them) should get in the way of a late supper at a nice restaurant or a night cap at a local bar. They seem utterly unaware that their stroller and its occupant might be in the way of other patrons.

It’s the kind of thing that makes Park Slope an easy mark. Well, that and the 40-ish dad I saw today wearing a Snuggli full of baby. A note to you, sir: only men under the age of 22 should wear those colorful, hand-knit Nepalese hats with the ear flaps.

I managed to do plenty when my kids were babies - I was taking an evening class on Jewish theology when my oldest was just a few weeks old - but I didn’t expect to take my babies every single place I went. There were, and still are, places and parties I couldn’t attend because it’s not appropriate to bring young children.

I’ve survived, and so would the rest of you.

I’m just sick of trying to ignore preschoolers talk loudly in PG-13 and R-rated movies when all I’d like to have is the privilege of enjoying the movie I’ve just overpaid to see.

I fear I may be sounding a little like hoary curmudgeon Andy Rooney.

But perhaps I have more company than I know. So weigh in: what do you think?

And for those of you who write to back me up, here’s a bonus tidbit for your viewing pleasure, featuring Rooney and Ali G.

Ali G. is of course is played by the inimitably hunky Sacha Baron Cohen, who I’m sure doesn’t take the baby he has with actress Isla Fisher (Hate her. Kidding. Sort of.) to bars.

He probably leaves her with family members he’s brought in from Kazakhtan.


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