July 25, 2006

It Still Sucks To Be Amy Sohn: The Restaurant Edition

Call me an over-entitled breeder if you want, but I think that eating dinner at six-freakin'-o'clock is fair game for bringing a kid to almost any restaurant.

I remember when the Times ran a story on one of our regular spots, the tiny Jean-Claude in SoHo. They called it "absolutely the most authentic French bistro in America" or something in a giant front page article. We avoided it for a few weeks, worried and pissed that brainless, Times-worshipping suburban hordes would be lined up five deep outside. But it turned out fine. See, we'd always gone late, at 9:30 or 10, long after the NYT B&T's had come and gone. The coriander calamari might run out once in a while, but the restaurant wasn't ruined as we'd feared.

Same deal with babies. Except now we're the B&T. Wait, isn't this supposed to cheer me up?

A Glass of Wine and a Pacifier, Please


Uhhh, little help...B&T?

[Bridge & Tunnel. It's what we used to call the people who came into Manhattan to party, before the party moved to Brooklyn. -ed.]

I wonder why Amy is always so worried about what strangers think about her?

Because she is a tedious, insecure freak with no idea of what she wants aside from external validation. And a boring writer, which is worse.

I just don't understand why Americans are so freaked out about kids in cafes and restaurants. I used to live in two different countries in Europe and NO ONE ever seemed to care. Once on vacation in Barcelona my husband and I stood outside a restaurant that single friends of ours had recommended. We weren't going to go in since we had our then 3 mo old with us, plus her pram (bugaboo). But when the maitre d' saw us salivating at the menu, he ushered us in, said it was no problem, and bent over backward arranging tables and chairs to fit us in. The restaurant was tiny, and NONE of the other patrons seemed at all annoyed or even to notice. The waiter who must have been in his early 20's even held our baby as we had dessert.

It's an amusing article, but I think it's a little paranoid and inaccurate. I don't think nonparents look down on parents as much as parents think. I know I'm self-conscious when our double-stroller is in the way or our kids are fussy when shopping, but it's not because anyone has ever made a negative comment. People know kids whine, spill, and scream. They deal with it.

I do feel sorry for the author for her conclusion that she'd rather go out without her daughter. Sure, it's fun to have date nights, but shouldn't it be just as fun to have family nights? Bringing along the baby as a buffer is inaccurate. We bring along the kids because they're family.

I thought she captured the dilemma well. I think one of the issues at play is that New Yorkers don't live near their extended families and so free babysitting for date nights is less available.

She had me going until the last few paragraphs - as a new mom I confess to not wanting to give up that part of my pre-baby life that included going out to restaurants with friends now and again, though we have sought out places that seem more stroller and baby friendly and immediately take our baby outside if she makes a fuss (which is rare).

But to suggest that the real reason parents take their kids with them is to avoid being alone together? Because their relationships have dissolved in the wake of parenthood and they fear facing their lack of intimacy? That, my dear, sounds like *your* reason, but it is certainly not mine. If you want to project your own insecurities on the rest of us, at least be honest about it.

I've now read two articles by that self absorbed woman. She is exactly who she hated when she was single and childless. The kind of mom who only focuses on how she feels about a situation. But those people are unlikeable and difficult to be around with or without kids.

And really who cares what other people or other people's kids are doing at a resturant. If I'm lucky enough to go out without my kids there would have to be a screaming babboon flinging poo in my general direction to ruin my evening out.

this article ruined my life. just kidding, but i was going out to dinner fine with the wife and kid (4mos), like maybe once a week in our west village nabe, and now im all self conscious and thinking we are bugging people. we try to sit outside when possible, and when she fussess sometimes i stand up and bounce her. last night i got all paranoid that a couple 4 tables away was all peeved, felt like i was on a stage, etc. turns out they wanted a better look at the little ones cheeks. so on a stage in one sense, i guess
anyway, the weirdest part of the article is this claim that families have sanitized new york - wrong way 'round, Amy. the so called 'quality of life' improvements championed by Giuliani and Bloomberg may have made it easier for families to stay in NY rather than go to the 'burbs - babies in restaurants as effect, not cause.
i think we should start a campaign to force her (court order) to become a stay at home mom, just to stop these articles.

geez...it's like she thinks families are the next plague. and those last two paragraphs are complete crap. whatever. it's like she's desperately trying to prove herself and her choices...but who really cares?

hmm. my wife and I were talking about this tonight at dinner--with kid, neighborhood mexican, nothing fancy--and I started feeling kind of bad.

I mean, it's hard enough navigating the first few months with a baby anyway, never mind going back to work--and never mind when that work is writing about your anxieties and having everyone pick them apart in public.

Don't get me wrong: Sohn's picked her beat and should take the lumps that come with saying crackpot things. But at the same time, should a writer-parent get dumped on for expressing what every other parent has probably felt, if not said or acted on, at one time or another?

I guess I'm feeling empathetic--and hence, bad--about possibly adding to someone else's parenting woes. I'd rather stick to the topics Sohn raised, like worrying about what other people think, eating/hanging with kids in public, etc.

Just from my own experience, mind you, I think it's kind of hard to buy that whole "oh, relax, don't be so paranoid about what other people think." argument when there's a webload of strangers calling you a selfish, insecure bitch.

Don't feel bad. You're not picking on someone for their choices of how to parent. You're picking on someone for the venomous attitude toward the choices and lives of others. Those are two completely different things.

And, remember, you didn't just overhear this woman talking at the local coffeehouse and decide to out her, you read her column that she decided to write and put out there for public consumption.

Part of consumption is the lively dispute and discussion that the writing triggers. You'll notice that your comments didn't create an avalanche of people piling on her. Some people agree with certain points.

Her style and progression are clunky. She doesn't fully support her own argument. The foundation is shaky. That doesn't do her point any favors.

My main problem with her content is that she seems to see things as all or nothing/Us or Them. In truth, parenthood does change your life and every parent has times when they find it hard to adjust, or they momentarily grieve for the past they had. However, that same parent might expertly navigate the ins and outs of public parenting at other times.

The issues of loudness, slowness and not respecting others in public spaces is not confined to people with children. And just because you have children does not automatically make you ignorant of how others around you feel and it doesn't automatically mean that your children are loud or annoying anyone at all.

The make-up of cities change. You can see any change as good or bad, but to condemn others for that change when you want to freeze time in your pre-child state isn't realistic or normal.

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