Bar Babies

The funny bastards over at Dadwagon created quite a stir recently when one of them copped to being a drunk, shitty parent being a dad who does not shy away from occasionally heading out to a bar with his baby in tow in a recent CNN article. It received more than 2,700 comments and seemed to ignite a controversy regarding whether or not babies should ever be at a bar.

I won’t say it got heated, but a commenter named “Fuck You” advised the author to “leave his crotchfruit at home.”

There are really two factions doing battle concerning this issue. On one side you have drunk people at the bar. They want to get plastered without dealing with children. Hell, half of them probably came to the bar to escape their own offspring. They want to smoke outside and not feel guilty when strollers go in and out of the bar. And if someone is going to be crying, screaming and vomiting, they want it to be them and not a kid.

But young parents see it a different way. They see nothing wrong with having 1-2 beers at a family-friendly watering hole. As long as their kids aren’t creating a disturbance and they’re not getting sloppy drunk, why shouldn’t parents be able to get together at a local bar and shoot the shit over a pint?

I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone, but I see nothing wrong with it.

In fact, I took Will to an Irish bar called Tommy Doyle’s in Hyannis on Wednesday night. It’s not the first time he’s been there either. I was meeting a group of friends to celebrate a buddy’s birthday and the bar is on the way home from work for MJ. It was 5:30 p.m. and the bar was sparsely populated to say the least. We were there for about an hour, during which time Will said hi to everyone, hit lots of buttons on the Big Game Hunter video game and randomly played “Whiskey in a Jar” on the jukebox (for which I was immensely proud).

He screeched a couple of times at which point I took him in the other room and told him to quiet down. He ran around a little bit but was never out of control. I got one dirty look from a 50-something uptight bitch, but other than that everyone was very accommodating and gracious. He was out of there by 6:30, well before the bar got crowded, and that was it.

Some jackasses critics out there claim kids don’t belong at bars. Period. End of discussion. They think once you become a parent you should stop “clinging to youth” and, I don’t know, go do “parent things.” Instead of killing brain cells the old fashioned way, they want our minds to turn to mush while listening to the strains of Capt. Feathersword and The Wiggles singing Fruit Salad. Because shit, once you’re a parent you lose the need for adult contact. You should suddenly ignore the happiness you once derived from simply sitting with people who aren’t in diapers and sharing a cocktail. If you have a baby in a sling it might as well be a scarlet letter.

But that’s bullshit. As long as parents use a little common sense, there is no problem with bringing a child to a bar. But there are some rules:

  • It shouldn’t be a nightclub or a hardcore punk bar with lots of people and loud music
  • It should be early in the evening before people get too trashed
  • Your kid needs to be fairly well behaved and if the baby is throwing a fit, take off
  • No smoking
  • Kids like whiskey in their sippy cups, not beer. It’s something to do with the carbonation.

But seriously, the bottom line is that I like to go out to bars for a beer with some friends. I liked doing it before I became a dad, and that didn’t miraculously change after Will was born. Sure kids change your life quite a bit, but they don’t alter your personality completely. You don’t stop enjoying a beer with friends simply because you have a kid. You don’t stop being yourself and you shouldn’t be forced to feel confined to play groups and parent meet-ups.

Besides, babysitters aren’t always available, and when they are, they’re expensive. So why not take the kid with you? Some of my best memories are from when I was a kid and my dad would let me tag along to the bar after selectmen’s meetings. The town officials would have a few beers and I’d sit quietly and listen, or I’d play video games and the jukebox. It wasn’t weird. I didn’t make anyone uncomfortable by being there. And no one frowned upon it because it was a neighborhood bar and restaurant where families were welcome.

So parents, I say go forth and invade your local corner bar. Pack the stroller, put the kid in the backpack if you’re a babywearer and suck down a beer while your kid knocks back a bottle or a sippy cup. And if a curmudgeon gives you attitude, tell them to go screw. As long as you’re drinking responsibly and looking after your kid, you have just as much of a right to be there as anyone else.

Because let’s face it, there’s only so much Wiggles you can watch before you start considering eating a shotgun.


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14 thoughts on “Bar Babies

  1. It would also depend on the quality of the bars where you are… Here would have to say HELL NO. Then again we frequent our friends in the country who’s upstairs is better utilized by a much better crowd than any bar around here. plus no cover charge ever….

  2. Honestly I don’t see what the big damn deal is with people getting up in arms over the whole thing. I took the kids to Joe’s Crab Shack a couple weekends ago and the people on the deck were all drinking, smoking and cussing with kids a few feet away. What’s really the difference? On the flip side we take the kids to this one wine bar all the time for these little pizzas they make. The place is clean, quiet classy. You’re right, just use common sense.

  3. OK, I just went and read the comments at Dadwagon, and I have to say, I am actually extremely sad. For the first 50 posts, the only people supporting babies in bars was the dadwagon crew. The hate in those comments is unimaginable. I don’t go to the bar with my kid every day, but sometimes, like when our team isn’t on TV and we have to go to the sports bar to watch, or for a friends birthday or something, we will take her out. I tend to frequent bars with either tables or large areas in which she can run, and ones that sell food. Sometimes I will take her out to happy hour, but all of these things happen before the hour of 7 pm.

    I had no idea that getting pregnant (by accident) was a “choice” that meant I had to forgo any relationships I had pre-baby. My friends are young. And that means not only non-baby but mostly non-married as well. Though I prefer socializing by having people over and drinking wine and eating good food, sometimes that just doesn’t work out. Because people in my peer group want to go to a bar! They try to pick family friendly places for the very point of allowing me to come and bring my daughter.

    Meanwhile, I am of the opinion that the more you subject your children to adult things (in a reasonable fashion) the less they, as adults, will look at these adult things as taboo. I mean, seriously, I know there are things that happen in bars late at night that kids shouldn’t see, but is that the point? I think we all need to be more responsible and use the time we have at bars to do what we’re really there for: drink and enjoy friends. The idea that this is a bad thing for my kid to see is ridiculous. She will see it at home and she will see it out. Because its important for her to know that it is ok, when she’s an adult.

    I am just really sad. I had no idea people were so hateful and mean toward those of us who are parents. Apparently I am supposed to only ever do things for my daughter and never have an adult life again. I will find it difficult to bring her to a bar again knowing that “NO ONE LIKES [MY] BABY.”

  4. We took Charlie to John Harvards RESTAURANT and Pub last night in Harvard Square (we wanted him to get wicked smaht by proximity). We ordered dinner (Charlie’s off the KID’S menu) and I got a soda and Rick got water. C-Man was a very good boy. We still got 2 comments, one from a know-it-all college kid and one from a geezer about how we brought our kid to a bar.

  5. I got flamed for this before, because HOW DARE I NAME MY BLOG SOMETHING WITH VODKA IN IT I AM A SOULLESS HEATHEN!!1!!!!1 and it’s really sad. I’m sick to death of having to defend myself.

    I am a mother.

    I am Becky.

    I am a person.

    If I want my kid to come with me to the bar? WHY NOT? I’m not gonna get loaded and drive JR around with me, okay? Good common sense didn’t go out of the window the second I pushed my kid out of my crotch.

    Really tired of people getting down on everyone else for it. I DIDN’T read the comments because I am DEAD sick of it.

  6. I tend to avoid taking my kids to places where people get hammered. Tommy Doyles, early evening? Fine. 19th Hole…hell naw! Fridays? Sure. Quarter Deck? LOL, nope. I don’t want to worry about loose cannons when I bring my kids out. It should be judged on a bar by bar basis. If I’m going out to a place that caters to adults I don’t want to watch my language or behavior for child appropriateness. Because you’re right, babysitters are expensive and you can’t always get one. So when I do, why the hell would I be happy about paying them just to show up and have someone elses kid staring at me.

    Pub style places have a different aura. Most serve food. They have kids menus. One can reasonably expect children to frequent these places. These are places where an adult can wet their whistle and still bring their kids. So it’s not even necessary for them to bring their children to flat out bars. If the only thing they sell that doesn’t require I.D. is soda, it’s probably not the place for children. If there’s a cover charge and a bouncer, it’s DEFINITELY not the place for children.

    We took the kids to Tiki Port a few weeks ago. The people at the bar were acting like natural born fools. I wasn’t driving, so I ordered a scorpion bowl. As soon as they set it in front of me I got uncomfortable. I realized I don’t drink liquor around my kids. Wine and the occasional corona is it. I never even gave it a thought until then.

  7. I haven’t encountered this problem yet… but I don’t see a problem with it at all. Obviously if your baby is in the Baby Bjorn while while you’re taking body shots off some random bar fly… then there’s a problem.

    Also… The Wiggles all need to be ritually executed. Yo Gabba Gabba is the show for me.

  8. Wait there is a controversy here, I thought it was accepted that the whole reason daddy drinks was because of that kid strapped to his chest. I agree whole heartedly with your rules stated above and wish people would see that the people thoughtful enough to write about there experiences on that daddy blogs aren’t the type to get their kids lit

  9. I think it depends on your defination of bar. To me it’s a nightclub with loud music and scantily clad girls. If by bar you mean pub I see no problem with that. There is one pub that I know has a killer brunch but I can’t go becuase they don’t allow minors in a 11am on a Sunday. But the American defination of bar is probably more aligned with pub. I’ve been to a bowling alley across the border (I grew up close to the U.S. and had friends down there) and there was smoking galore, beer drinking and little kids and infants. I don’t know what parent would take their kid into an establishment with smoking. That woudln’t fly up here. I personally don’t take my son to posh restaurants because with him I never know what I’m going to get. If your kid(s) is/are well behaved go for it.

  10. i somehow missed this post the last time by. strangely, i have no strong opinion on this. if i still lived in an urban setting, i think i’d be probably be pro-baby in bar, of course, with bar etiquette always in mind.

    the one thing i was blown away with was the hate speak for the (very clever, well written) crew at dadwagon. i love those guys, and even if i totally disagreed with matt’s take (which, again, i didn’t–i see both sides), i would never in a million years pepper him with such hate speak. “die in a fire?” it’s just unbelievable.

    sanctimonious jerks need to realize a couple of things–there’s no ONE way that’s guaranteed to work. if there were, we’d all be doing it, and some (rich) loser would have written a book about it. the other thing they need to recognize? regardless of where you stand on the matter, bringing a kid to a bar early in the evening for a coupla pops will NEVER have a long-term effect on that child. but the hatred one has for people who choose to do that? that can scar for a lifetime.

    nice post, brother.

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