Howard and I discussed this hot topic in this week’s Perpetual Post.
I don’t think that babies should be banned from bars; I’m not sure it’s possible to enforce a law like that anyway. In fact, the occasional quiet tot spending an hour or two in a corner booth with his parents is not a crime, nor does it generally disturb other customers. But such an occurrence should be the exception, and not the rule.
I believe that people should be more or less discouraged from bringing their babies with them to the bar, because otherwise things will inevitably start to get out of hand. The moment parents begin to feel that it is appropriate for them to forget about a babysitter for the evening and bring junior out on the town is when things will start to go downhill, fast.
Parents are notoriously oblivious when it comes to the effect of their children on others and the enjoyment of their children by others. Their ability to understand that not everyone is enthralled with their offspring is limited at best—and will be further impaired by alcohol.
Not only that– if the general consensus becomes that it is acceptable for a young child to accompany adults to a drinking establishment, I fear the time will come when you won’t be able to play a game of dirty Photo Hunt without a scandalized mother clapping a hand over her toddler’s eyes behind you. After a rough night or afternoon you may find yourself vomiting in a filthy bar bathroom while a disapproving parent in the next stall is reminding her child to flush.
We are used to modifying our behavior when in the presence of children in most other public situations—bars should remain one of the few places where it is more or less acceptable to swear, shout, jostle around, make out and generally enjoy being drunk in public.
Which brings me to another point—children, even very young babies, tend to be extremely observant. Would you rather your baby scrutinize other children in playgroup, or bunch of jeering frat boys? Would you prefer to find him imitating the behavior of his teenage babysitter or a slurring barfly?
God willing, your baby will have plenty of time to spend sitting on a grimy bar stool, nursing a drink and alternately weeping and soiling himself. Why not let him put it off for a few decades?
In closing, unless your toddler has the wit and wisdom of F. Scott Fitzgerald or regularly entertains bartenders and pub clientele alike with bawdy stories and drinking songs (“I’m a Little Teapot” does not count), leave him at home.
March 12, 2010 at 3:07 pm
I have to disagree with you on this one. I think whether or not it is appropriate to bring a kid into a bar is largely dependent on the demographics of the neighborhood you’re in and whether or not the bar is just a drinks/pool/darts type place or your more family-friendly restaurant/bar. The area of Chicago I live is very family-oriented and most of the bars are crowded with families on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and evenings. It bothered me until I realized that most of these parents are actually pretty cognizant of what is going on around them, and really, they just want to be able to lead a semi-normal life post-kids.
Regardless, if they are keeping their kids out past 9pm because they simply want their kids to adhere to an adult schedule so they don’t have to change anything once they have children, then something is wrong with the parents.