Imagine sitting on a barstool, with kids — kindergarten age and younger — darting across the floor, screaming for their parents, and generally posing a liability for any inebriated adult who might have the misfortune of colliding with one of these tiny people. Suffice it to say, I have an axe to grind against parents who bring their small children to bars.
This is a facet of pre-COVID life that I am loathe to see return. The pandemic is in retreat here in the U.S., which is fantastic news for parents, children, and bristly 31-year-old hipsters like me. So, as we more frequently find ourselves at watering holes where the legal limit for entry is 21-years-old and no food other than bags of chips are to be found, I am begging young parents to leave their children elsewhere.
Your child isn’t cute at a bar
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids — absolutely adore them — and look forward to being a dad one day. Chances are your cherub-faced infant is adorable — just in any environment other than a bar. The second you enter an establishment meant solely for adults to imbibe and decompress from the bullshit of adult life, your child becomes a menace.
In the rare instance a kid at a bar is well-behaved, most people won’t mind, but such well-mannered tykes are rare. Usually, at least in my experience, parents unleash their kids onto a barroom floor like you might a dog upon a sprawling meadow. The fact that the adults are in a social establishment somehow means that the necessity of parenting takes a backseat to whatever microbrew is on the menu.
Or, consider it this way: When your kid sprints behind my barstool yelling and laughing as if they were at Disneyland, they’re no longer cute. They’re a nuisance, frolicking with the kind of abandon you’d expect from a kid in a safe environment. The thing is, though, they’re not in a safe environment.
Is it legal to have kids at bars?
One of the most galling aspects of this situation is how it’s even legal for your child to be in a bar. The thing is, it’s technically legal to bring your baby into a bar in some states and many require the establishment to serve food for anyone under age to enter. I will continue to rail against the legality of this burden for the rest of my life, but alas, the law is on your side, yuppie parents.
Kids create a weird atmosphere for everyone at the bar
My behaviour around children is different from my antics at a bar, which is true for most people. I try not to curse in the company of little kids (contrary to what you may believe after reading this far, I’m not a monster). Having a group of little kids at a bar, especially if the kids are running around relatively unaccompanied while their parents unwind, creates a confusing atmosphere for people like me.
What’s the etiquette on swearing or bellowing at a basketball game if I’m sitting next to a four-year-old? I don’t think we should have to resurrect Emily Post to figure this one out. Leaving your kid at home with a sitter or in-laws means I won’t have to think about how my behaviour might be internalized by a two-year-old.
Moreover, with the pandemic coming to an end, adults without children are hornier than ever after over a year of isolation. If you take your child with you, they might bear witness to some, uh, adult behaviour. Is that a scar you’re willing to let rest on your conscious?
How to tell if a bar is welcoming to kids
Here’s a good rule of thumb: Does the place you’re frequenting with your kids have a children’s menu? Is there any food apart from nuts, pretzels, or chips? As a way avoid the frustration of malcontents like me, consider finding a few places with a festive, bar-like atmosphere that also has a kids menu. You can even sit at the bar with your child in most states, especially if you order food.
I understand that you chose to remain in the city so you can maintain a semblance of the social life you lost when you decided to become parents. But please, don’t ruin the bar experiences of others because of it.