“Get that filthy baby out of here,” my husband would joke under his breath whenever we went somewhere, a plane, a concert, a restaurant, and there was a baby in the crowd.
I’d laugh, of course, because, well, it was funny. This would egg him on and he’d say something else like, “Just filthy,” or “Look at that disgusting thing.”
A regular comedian, that husband of mine. Even though we were in the midst of fertility treatments, I could still take a joke (thank God!). In fact, it was his silly nature that helped get me through all of that.
Babies aren’t particularly known for their dirtiness, obviously, but when you don’t have kids yet, didn’t grow up around little ones, and don’t have a large circle of friends with kids, most still looking for mates on Match.com or trying their luck with Tinder, babies do seem kind of gross, all cry-y and snot nosed and poopy diapered. They seem inconvenient. They seem boring. They seem like dangerous reminders that at some point you might want to seriously think about caring for some one other than yourself so that you actually have visitors to your rest home when you’re 90. And that’s no fun, no fun at all, especially when you’re three mimosas in to Sunday Funday, nursing a vodka Red Bull hangover.
Even though we’d joke, having a little chuckle fest behind the backs of what I now know were harried parents, regular people just like us, trying to have fun, food, or a safe flight themselves, baby in tow, we really were just kidding. Sure, no one likes a baby screaming its head off, no one, but whatever, it happens, it’s life, like the very essence of it. Even back then, before toting around a miniature pants soiling person of our own, we knew that. We never would have taken the joke where Malaysia Airlines did in 2012, or where Larson’s Steakhouse did last night when we tried to dine, with our baby, at their establishment.
Though we took a trip when our daughter was just three months old, back then we didn’t stray far from the hotel, and planned our every move around her nap schedule. It wasn’t until recently, the 7 month mark I’d say, when she started eating solid food comfortably, sitting up in her high chair steadily, and enjoying meal time like a foodie in training, that we finally started venturing out to restaurants regularly, lunches mostly, but more and more dinners, as our baby girl’s naps grew less frequent and her table manners improved.
With all of that said, it’s still kind of a big deal when we, and likely any new parent, still adjusting to that first year as those now totally responsible for the safety and well being of a helpless infant, decide to go to dinner, at a nicer restaurant. After all, we still like good food, good service, and good wine. We still like ambiance. We still like a little scene. And frankly, our almost 9-month old does too. We haven’t had any crying fits, while out and about, since she was four months old, and if we did now, at a fancy steak house like Larson’s, or any place for that matter, we’d promptly remove our child, and take our food to go.
But I know not everyone’s like us, that people let their baby’s cry it out in public, in Walmarts and at Theme Parks everywhere. I know there have been sick, unhappy babies on many a cross country flight. But I think those situations are the exception and not the rule. I think that most of the time, babies wouldn’t be out with parents unless a) they’re well behaved in social situations, or b) there’s no alternative (think weddings, funerals, and family illnesses for flights). If I have trust enough in my parenting and my baby’s penchant for good restaurant behavior, then so should Larson’s.
Well, Larson’s had no clue what to do with me when I arrived, baby tucked in one arm, asking for a high chair. The host wasn’t rude exactly, but he wasn’t helpful either. He looked at me like he’d never seen a child before. Apparently, Larson’s has a “no high chair” policy, which essentially translates to a no baby one.
You can imagine that then and there, at the grandma dining hour of 5:45 PM because that’s when you eat when you’re a parent if you want to enjoy a meal with your 9-month old before bedtime, the three of us were hungry, but mostly embarrassed. The waiting area was surprisingly packed, and I know several patrons probably overheard me awkwardly ask to speak to the manager. I was, and still am, pissed. We moved to this bedroom community because it was supposed to be family friendly.
Things continued to get weird when the manager arrived five minutes later, saying he’d be happy to borrow a high chair from BJs next door, as if hinting that that’s where I belonged. At that point, the mood was ruined, and we took our money, and our baby, elsewhere.
So this morning, we left our little suburb and drove to the hip Pershing Square area of downtown Los Angeles to have brunch at the trendy Bottega Louie patisserie.
There weren’t any other babies at Louie, but there were plenty of high chairs. The host even joked that he’d be happy to “valet” our stroller. Bottega Louie’s was charming, and most importantly, delicious. And we will definitely go back.
Companies should rethink how they treat those of us who have made the choice to embrace what sometimes feels like a four letter word, B-A-B-Y, in this increasingly Dual Income No Kids society. We’re parents now, not second class citizens. Our taste for quality in service and selection has not changed, if anything, it’s likely gotten more discerning considering our beautiful little limitation.
What do you think about “no kids” policies? You obviously know where I sit, and it’s not at establishments that don’t welcome well behaving people of ALL ages. 😉