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.
CHECK OUT DAD-BLOGS AND FATHERHOOD FRIDAY. AND THEN GET DRUNK WITH YOUR KIDS.