Babies in Public Spaces

A few months back I heard our friends Neil Gaiman and Cat Mihos were going to be just a couple hours away from us in Ohio. Which meant that not only would we get to see Neil and Cat, but our friends the Scalzis could come as well!
I was told to bring baby Evelyn, and let me tell you, this caused some anxiety! Baby! In public! Evelyn is a great baby, but as a baby, I know she can be unpredictable. What if she melts down in public? What if she becomes the worst baby ever and we are two hours from home? How would I handle it?

Then I decided, I would handle it. That’s how! I don’t mind babies in public spaces. I mind babies and children with parents that don’t handle it. The ones that don’t at least TRY to engage with their children, and just trust that in the cafe or restaurant, their kid will be safe.

I had a friend out for dinner with her husband. A small child came tottering up and sat at their table. Oh haha! Cute kid. Then the parent, who was also on a date, came over and PUSHED THE CHAIR IN! As in, my child is now sitting at your table. Please engage her while my husband and I enjoy our date night.
No. Not cool.

Owning my business, of COURSE we see the wild children. A woman in the cafe is enjoying her coffee and muffin. A child, who is not hers, wanders over and grabs her muffin, taking a bite. The woman flags down the mother of said child who says, “Oh! She likes muffins!” and puts the muffin, sans bite, back on the womans plate. (I of course gave her a new muffin, but shouldn’t the parent have offered to replace it? I will eat after my child, but I would not expect other to do so!)

I know everyone has these stories. But can’t we also remember the good ones? The kid who is fascinated with the fish tanks, so his father plopped them down in front of them while he studied for his bar exam. On days his kid wasn’t having it, he would quickly get his drink to go.

I’ve been so tense about going to restaurants, movies, etc. If people are paying to enjoy themselves, I don’t want my baby crying to ruin their good time!

Then I watched as local brewery Sun King announced they were allowing children, and people melted down.

Then I got mad. I want to go to a brewery and hang out with my friends. Why shouldn’t I be able to go, just because I have a tiny human? I’M still a human! I want to do human things!

Sop we went to the event in Ohio, and Evelyn was a doll. She got her cuddles from Neil, and the Scalzis. We sat in the audience to hear Neil speak, and she fussed, so I took her to the side and rocked her until she fell asleep. Sat back down and listened to Neil talk for a while, then Evelyn let out the LOUDEST fart and dirtied her diaper. I left again, and decided not to go back in since I didn’t want to be a distraction for people who had paid to attend the event. Went backstage and hung out with Cat, listening to Neil over the PA.


Backstage cuddles

I’m not certain, but I think that she didn’t disturb anyone in the audience. No more than someone who might get a dry throat and cough, or sneeze, or an adult who might have to run out to the bathroom.

After the event we went to dinner, and I held my baby in my lap at the very fancy steakhouse and wondered if anyone was judging me for having an infant out to a fancy place, and so late at night.

The next day, as we’re all on twitter talking about how wonderful the event was, someone posted this:

Haha! So funny! So cute! Yay! So happy to see friends loving on my baby. I’m imagining the cool kid she’s going to grow up to be, and how fortunate we are to have amazing friends like this in our life.

Then I see this response. (I covered the username as I don’t want to see a witch hunt on this person)

There are my worst fears realized. People don’t want my baby in public, no matter how well behaved she is. At first I felt sad, then I started feeling frustrated.

I want my little human to grow up to be a good human. How will that happen if I keep her inside 24/7 and never expose her to real life, and how to behave in real life? Also, give me a chance before getting mad at the site of a baby! Am I ignoring her when she cries? Is she smelly and I’m refusing to change her diaper, causing the stench to waft over everyone in the vicinity? Or am I attending to her and ensuring that your experience is in no way hampered by her presence? Why not see which scenario is taking place before getting pissy at the idea of a baby in public with adults?

Thankfully, she has good friends that have her back. (Thank you John)

Look, I get it. My husband and I are not young. We were together for almost 2 decades before having a kid. I know what it’s like to not have kids, and not understand them. But don’t hate on the idea of every single baby you see in public! Give them a chance, the same way you give other adults in public a chance.

And as a mother, I can tell you that if I do see a parent trying to console a baby while attempting to eat hot food themselves (I’ve had exactly 4 hot meals since having my kid) or wrangle a wiggly one onto a changing table, I’m going to be the kind of human I want my kid to be. I’m going to offer a hand, not just roll my eyes and think “How DARE they have a baby if they can’t do everything perfectly!”. Maybe think about doing the same next time, instead of just snapping judgement on twitter?