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April 28, 2010

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I think there absolutely should be a set of standards regarding where "kids shouldn't." Call it etiquette. Call it sensitivity to others.

If my husband and I go out for a $100 dinner with reservations at 8 p.m. I think it's a reasonable expectation that we will not have to listen to a crying baby nor hear a mother "reasoning" with a 4-year old to use his utensils.

Having children is often about sacrifices. We sacrificed many evenings out when we couldn't afford a babysitter. On the flip side, when we COULD afford a babysitter, we might treat ourselves to that chic new restaurant where our bill will easily come to $100. I don't think it's right for less considerate and more selfish parents to ruin the ambience that we are paying for.

I'm not talking about places you go for necessities...like the grocery store, Wal-Mart, pharmacy, etc. Or about McDonald's or even places like Applebees or Ruby Tuesday where they have a kids' menu and cater to families.

Here's a good rule of thumb...if the restaurant does not provide a kids' menu, then children should not be brought there. It's a waste of your money. It's putting your kid in a destined-to-fail situation...because, while you might just have another glass of wine if the service is slow, your kid will be bored and will start acting up. And it's disrespectful of the other diners.

Stacey, if you ever open that restaurant, I would be a faithful patron! As it is, if we walk into what is clearly an adult restaurant and I see a baby or toddler, I quickly assess how close they are to finishing their meal. If it's a small place and they are just starting, we will leave and go somewhere else. If it's big enough, we will ask for a table far away.

I'm not a fan of going to the movies, but the same would apply there. Don't bring your toddler or baby to an R-rated or even PG-13 movie. Get a sitter or wait until it comes out on DVD.

Once they have cell phones, you can take them anywhere because they won't talk to you or want to do anything to call attention to themselves because then they might be SEEN with you and will be texting the whole time. (Oh...can you tell I have teens?)

@tara - I said I don't like to go grocery shopping with all three of my kids. And I really don't enjoy OB visits when my son can peek into my vagina and ask her if she's about to pull the waffles out.

But yes, based on my husband's schedule, I usually do have to take them all with me. Most of the time unlike many moms who don't have that option - rare as it may be for me, when they've got husbands deployed overseas for a year, their gripes certainly trump mine and make me more fortunate.

Now one kid. I'd happily take them anywhere. Hell, that's like Christmas time.

Well, shoot. This post is disappointing, especially from someone who elsewhere purports to be building community with other (sometimes) single moms.

Seems just a wee bit Judgy McJudgerson.

But hey good for you. I'm glad you're so fortunate, to be able to make choices to not bring your kiddos on your menial errands and elsewhere you deem questionable, when you so choose.

Separately, I met my colleagues' baby girl for the first time at a work cocktail reception in a bar. She was sleeping soundly in a pram. I didn't have any of my own at the time but I thought they were super-the-coolest parents and vowed to be like them.

I am now, like them, sometimes by choice and often by circumstance.

I don't frequent bars but wherever I go, if the baby isn't happy, then it is always time to go. Unless I'm at an emergency trip to the doctor which is inconvenient at best, but not nearly so disheartening as knowing -- now that I am a de facto member of the Mom's Club and am privy to the scorn -- I am judged for taking my well-behaved kiddo someplace someone else thinks questionable.

Membership doesn't always have privileges.

Blessing or luck, my girls (born 2 days short of 2 days apart) have always been calm children. I've always been able to take them anywhere to do anything.
There are times when both join us at Fancy Quiet Restaurant. Miss 10 carefully chooses her outfit, does her nails. There are times when she just doesn't care to go, which is fine. Miss 12 always joins us. She enjoys hanging with the adults. She looks years older than 12, can banter back and forth with any adult. I'm going to love every minute because I know the day will come when she won't want to hang out with us.

Been to Sephora with Boy Child. Had to use all my energy to keep his fingers out of the electric blue eye shadow.

T'wasn't fun.

I remember going to a restaurant WITH the kids once where there were children running up and down the center of the restaurant where large trays of food were being brought out of the kitchen.

My kids asked if they could run around too. "NO!" And they asked why...after all, "other kids are doing it."

"You're not other kids. You're OUR kids. And OUR kids stay sitting in their seats and play with the things we brought with us."

That said, some places aren't for kids. It's a matter of common courtesy. Remember that? I do. Kinda.

Sorry I'll be missing you in SF. I used to live almost directly above the Good Vibrations on Polk (they opened right after I moved, darn it).

I'm just thankful that two years into the mom gig I finally found (by pure chance) a babysitter share situation that is amazing. I'm only having one kid and I always thought it was indulgent to have a babysitter until I realized how hard it is to do EVERYTHING with an infant/toddler/child in tow. Life is much easier now and I'm much less cranky. I would say something about common sense (in deciding which situations are good or bad to add children into the mix), but it's been said before and probably better by someone else. Good topic though!

I think that this is a slippery slope of logic. As long as you're focusing on what YOU are comfortable with for YOURSELF then that is cool. But once you get into the realm of "kids shouldn't be (fill in the blank)" I think we really need to think hard about the ramifications. I'm pretty surprised by this recent resurgance of pre-feminist "keep the kids in the house (oh, and by extension keep the wives in the ktichen)" mentality. All this talk of not letting kids on airplanes, etc seems ridiculous to me. What we need is movement in the opposite direction: this is not an adult-only world. Being integrated into society is not something you do magically when you're 12 or 15 or 18. "it takes a village" does not equal "it takes an army of servants" to raise a child--- it means that kids need to be integrated into all facets of society so that they can learn, and this cordoning off that we do here in the US (including the age-censorship of media) I think is really harming our kids and, as they become adults, weakening society. You can see it in the gen-x-ers and esp. in gen-y-ers... kidults. It's terrifying, and part of it is a result of this life censorship and other infantilization tendancies that are becoming ingrained into our culture for some reason...

If we are fighting against institutionalized discrimination against breastfeeding in public, shouldn't we also be fighting against the institutionalized discrimination against the presence of kids & family?

That said, I have only 1 two year old, and don't know what it would be like to be struggling with three. From the get-go we did not alter our lifestyle when we had our daughter: before having her, we ate out almost every night, and after having her we still do, and to the same restaurants (some of which are family-friendly and some of which I guess are not, though we've never had a problem). Malls, movies, lectures, exhibitions, galleries, fairs, etc... everywhere we go, she goes to. We don't see boundaries between "parents" and "not-parents"... which is what "kid-friendly places" attempts to create.

agree 100%. There are no prizes for dragging your kids all over the place when you have other alternatives (and I appreciate that I am very fortunate to have alternatives). No one enjoys themselves in that scenario. These days we just prefer to stay home. For example, today my two young sons and I just chose to stay home in the afternoon (by the toddler's choice) and blow bubbles on our patio. We all had the best time ever, I got to see some smiles on the baby's face that almost had me in tears because they were so precious. the best part is that I was relaxed enough to be able to notice those smiles because I was not otherwise distracted dragging toddlers to places they did not want to go to in the first place just so that I could drag them home screaming two hours later

I have twin 2 year old girls and actually can bring them into Sephora with no problems. BUT they really like the car shaped strollers our nearby mall has so it is a treat to be in them. I actually complemented Sephora the other day for having nice wide aisles a stroller can manuver in. Unlike Gymboree, which is so packed to the gills (with merchandise) I can't even get a stroller in and out (esp. when I was using our double side by side). I have never went into a Gymboree with my girls because of this. BUT, totally off point.
I have had PLENTY of public meltdowns and miserable experiences in public with my 2 so I'm feeling pretty good right now that I haven't ever given Sephora a second thought!

Oh man. I couldn't go anywhere with three kids, you are my hero. I must be totally incompetent. I actually feel a little trapped right now with just one and would love to get out alone a bit more. I have a 20 month year old daughter (and I'm a "sometimes single" mom as well with a husband on tour) who is just learning about speech and independence and along with that these huuuuuge tantrums have suddenly emerged. She is usually a very sweet, easy-going, cuddly kid, but recently I feel I can't take her anywhere. I came home from the grocery store in tears the other day after a particularly bad tantrum during check-out... Just telling myself this too shall pass. For now, online shopping is the way to go!

If that was you being a ranty bitch @Sandrine, I'd hate to see you really fired up! Thanks for your comment :)

Sorry, I came out as a right ranty bitch and ended up missing your point completely - of course, sometime it's a relief to leave the kids behind, and I wouldn't go out to an expensive restaurant (I wish!) with them, or a cool bar, or a shopping trip with girl friends...And I imagine that for someone who looks after their kids full time as you do, these times out without them must be even more necessary!

I've always taken my kids with me, and I have always made them behave. Now that they are older (8&9) I can take them ANYWHERE and know that they won't embarrass me. That said, I wouldn't take them to a swanky restaurant. Some things should be reserved for adults.

@Sandrine - I think that's great that you get out. And I'm all for enjoying my rights as a "breeder." But I personally don't find it enjoyable to be out with my kids all the time, particularly in places that really aren't aimed at kids.

I'd much rather not go at all, than try to attempt to go to these places with my kids. Not just for the sake of everyone around me, but for my own sanity!

I'm lucky I live in a very kids friendly (and now smoke free) country. And I will take my kids almost anywhere provided it's not too late for them. I reckon anyone who's out before 8pm can put up with a few reminders that the world isn't an adult only place. And no, my kids aren't all that well behaved. My daughter mostly is, but my son is autistic and sometimes we just have to live a place because he's loud. But so what? We can't afford babysitters that often, we work during the day, and we like being out as a family. Often, if we're at a restaurant, the staff, and sometimes other diners, will take it upon themselves to entertain the kids while we eat. So yes, my daughter would seat at the bar when she was 2, sipping wonderful fruit coktails that the bar man had made especially for her, chatting with the customers. Eight years later she still does. That's what I mean by a kids friendly country. Kids are no big deal and people can live around them and still have fun.

I'm convinced online shopping was made for moms with toddlers. I ordered scotch tape online the other day just to avoid a trip to CVS with my 2 year old. Seriously though, I totally appreciate the post. Exposing kids to life lessons, OK, but once their attention span has run out (for me, typically when food has barely been ordered, or 1/3 of the way through the grocery store) it just turns into stressful situations for everyone.

Holy shit. Now I'm just super freaking jealous. I want to eat there.

I am torn. I think there are places kids shouldn't be, like a bar. Ever. On the other side, I do take my girls places that maybe other people wouldn't. Then again, they are older and it's taken years for me to get them ready to eat at a nice restaurant and behave appropriately.

I don't know. I guess my point is, if they aren't exposed to places, how will they ever know how to behave in public. However their is a time and a place, you know? Sigh. I'm making no sense.

Let's put it this way. I'll take my girls to a great restaurant, like a phenomenal sushi place...but I'll take them for lunch on a Saturday. Not at 8pm on a Tuesday. If we go out to dinner at night, it's Red Robin and such places, because at night they turn into crazies. ha.

Okay I'm done. Ooooh, but I want to see where you and Julie ate. Am going to Google it now. Best meals ever, are on vacation with friends and no children.

My husband and I have had this argument 100 times over. We're usually on the same page but his parents like to reignite over and over. There are certain places I just won't take our 2 year old because it takes away the fun and special-ness of the place and I'd rather pass up the opportunity than have the place 'ruined' for me.
My inlaws are notorious for not understanding this and getting mad at me when I refuse to take my son to high tea at the Four Seasons or lunch at Neiman Marcus. While I greatly appreciate my MIL offering to take us to those places, those are special meals I'm not ready to share. Someday he'll be old enough, until then my MIL can pay for a sitter so she and I can go or better yet, stay home with her grandson and send my hubby and I for some special time away.

Blech, I read the original article that you linked to by herbadmother.com and I didn't have the balls to comment there because if you dared disagreed with the premise that all precious children should be welcomed into any delicate store, you were pretty much torn apart and called insensitive because my kids has (insert asbergers, autism, sensory disorder etc. here). I have a four year old and she's tough and no, she will not be going to a movie or a non child friendly store any time soon. Good post, thanks for stating this, I couldn't agree more.

I've always said that if I ever opened a restaurant instead of smoking and non-smoking sections I would have children or no-children sections.

I'm a little split on this issue. On one hand, there are places I just don't go with my kids because it wouldn't be worth it (they are currently 1 and 2.5, so not particularly easy ages for restaurants and the like). I'll seek out solutions that don't make me take them out if possible (i.e. I'm currently pregnant, and I chose my homebirth midwife over another primarily because she does prenatal visits at my house. I like her, she's competent, etc. but I like that she comes to my house).

However, money is extremely tight right now and my husband is in the middle of a rigorous graduate program and isn't currently around a whole lot, so I am forced to run errands with my kids. When we do have family outings, we try to head to family friendly places, and/or we just leave if the kids are getting loud/fussy/inappropriate.

I don't agree that kids should be banned from any place, seeing as how they are people too, but it is up to the parents to enforce proper behavior (to the best of their ability) or to leave if things aren't going well.

Going to Sephora with children in tow is most likely a level in Dante's Inferno. This is probably why I do the vast majority of my shopping online!

OMG, I forgot about the baby on the bar! Ha! Thanks for reminding me about that one.

I'm going to stay out of this discussion in any other form.

The only time my kids have been in Sephora? Emergency GIFT CERTIFICATE run for a late present. Since we were able to go straight to a register and walk back out, it worked, but oh, the nightmares I had about whole shelves of perfume etc., tumbling down before I could get them out of there.

I would not still be daydreaming about that meal at Graham Elliot if I'd had to share it with my kids.

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