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Us and Them, Them and Us by Joanne Rendell



I just finished reading a truly annoying article in an old copy of New York Magazine which I found kicking around the apartment. Entitled ?A Glass of Wine and A Pacifier, Please,? the piece talks about the rising number of parents who are taking their babies and kids with them to restaurants and cafes in New York. The subtitle to the piece is, ?When every restaurant and coffee bar doubles as a playroom, is there such a things as adult space anymore?? and you can pretty much gather from that question which side of the fence the article?s author sits. Even though she?s a mom herself, Amy Sohn (the writer) clearly thinks there is something amiss with this growing trend and appears to feel sorry for the ?freelancers? who ?earn a living entirely in cafes, conducting business on laptops and cell phones.? Sohn ends the article with a small, supposedly illuminating, account of her date night with her husband - sans enfant. At the end of the evening, she describes feeling closer to her husband than she has ?since the baby was born.? As I see it, the message of Sohn?s piece is ?The only good times out on the town is without your kids and so, please, parents of New York, although babysitters are expensive, do not take your children out to the places which rightfully belong to adults.?

Okay, maybe I?m a little harsh on the article. I don?t necessarily think that kids should be squawking about in every restaurant and café in town. At the same time, however, I don?t think every coffee shop in town should be plagued with those ?freelancers? barking away on their cell phones (I wonder if Amy Sohn is one such ?freelancer??!). I also agree that some café and restaurant owners might not like strollers and sippy cups muddying their premises. But I do think there are other owners who might like the dollars which parents with hungry kids spend ? if only the parents would be brave enough to come in to their establishment and withstand the glares from other clientele who sit at their laptops all afternoon, nursing their one, lone cup of coffee.

I suppose what I don?t like most about the article is the way it shores up the age old distinction between the adult world and world of kids. In some ways, of course, making this distinction is important. After all, we don?t want to be sending our kids into factories or making them cannon fodder for the next war. Also, adults have to do stuff sometimes which kids can?t yet understand.

However, it seems to me, that in are eagerness to separate adults from kids, we create a world where these people (and yes, kids are people too!) have trouble existing side by side. When kids spend their days mostly with other kids and adults with other adults, it is no wonder kids squawk about in an unruly fashion when thrust amongst a group of adults. And its no wonder adults can?t abide the laughs and shrieks of gaily abandoned kids when they are used to only well-behaved and pre-occupied adults.

The other day, this adult/kid distinction really hit home when we took Benny to our friends book launch party. Our friend was over moon to see Benny there and even wrote an inscription to him in the book she gave us. However, some of her hipster, writing world friends weren?t so forthcoming. When Benny approached a small groups of these pouty, turtlenecked folks, he showed them a balloon he?d found and asked, ?You like my balloon?? From the stricken, uncomprehending looks on the faces, you would have thought Benny was an alien speaking nothing but alien-ese. From a distance I watched as not one of the group could break their façade coolness to respond to him. Finally, balloon in hand, Benny skulked off.

In the end, it just makes me wonder about this world we live in where kids and adults are becoming so alien they must be corralled in different worlds, different ?adult only? and ?kids only? spaces.

Sorry, that was a kind of long rant, wasn?t it?
To hear more from Joanne, check out her latest blog by Clicking Here. To return to Role Mommy, Click Here.

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Posted in: Blog, Laptop Naptime Mama on 04/10/2007

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