Nearly every time Jason and I have gone out on a Friday or Saturday night lately, we’ve encountered young children in establishments that we associate with drinking. To be clear, we don’t go to a lot of “family-friendly” restaurants, because we don’t like being around children when we’re out trying to have dinner and drinks. It’s not that we dislike them, it’s just that there’s a time and a place for them.
Before you want to yell at me, let me clarify further…if your child can sit quietly in a public place and not be a menace to other customers, waitstaff, or themselves in general…then we’re good. Running through a crowded restaurant at breakneck speed or screaming loudly is not appropriate, even at establishments that bill themselves as “family friendly”. If you bump into my knee because you’re 3 feet tall and not looking where you’re running, it’s annoying but not dangerous. If you bump into a server’s knee, and that server happens to be carrying a tray full of drinks…well, that’s another issue entirely.
So recently, we’ve been to places where parents have brought their children, sat down at the bar, ordered drinks, and then hung out there for hours, leaving their kids to amuse themselves. Let’s start with the obvious: it’s probably not a good idea to be at a bar, interacting with drunk people until 11p.m. if you’re 8 or 10 years old. I’m 34 years old, and I’m not sure it’s a good idea for me to be out interacting with drunk people until 11 p.m. some nights. But as an adult, I can make that decision and deal with the consequences of it…it’s not a decision being made for me by a parent.
Takeout pizza eaten at a bar in no way constitutes a nutritional meal…especially for a child whose brain and body are developing. And don’t even get me started on a parent drinking for several hours and then putting their kid in a car and driving home.
Beside the complete lack of awareness of your child’s welfare, having kids at a bar so late impedes on the rights of other customers. If a couple goes to a bar to share a bottle of wine, they’re not there to babysit your kid. But most of us aren’t complete a-holes, and if your child approaches us we’ll talk to them and try to engage with them…most likely out of pity because they’re at a bar at 9 or 10:00 at night rather than at home watching Dora the Explorer.
Not being parents ourselves, we realize that we don’t truly understand how hard it is to have kids and still have a social life. But my theory is that if you can afford to pay $10-$12 per glass for wine over the course of 4+ hours, you can also afford a babysitter. Am I wrong?