Don't Go There: 5 Places You Should Never Take Your Kids!
I love my kids, and I love taking them places, mostly because I'll go crazy if I can't get us all out of the house once in a while. But there are places I don't believe parents should ever take small children, and not just ones like casinos or strip clubs (the kind of places that would get you arrested).
You know what I'm talking about. The places where you always see a kid or two running around, because some parents are too selfish or too clueless not to bring them there. Well, it needs to stop, because it's giving us all a bad name.
1. Kid-Unfriendly Restaurants.
Maybe you noticed when you walked into that five-star restaurant that they didn't hand you crayons, balloons and that fake pizza dough that you can't eat and can't quite mold like clay (seriously, what the hell is that stuff?) Ever think maybe they're sending you a sign?
No, they're not in the wrong here. You are. Look around. See all those glares you're getting from other patrons? Don't assume everyone shooting you daggers is some bitter, childless grump, because one of them is probably me. I took the time to find a sitter so I could have one nice quiet meal away from my own kids... and now I have to deal with yours running through the dining room chucking Cheerios at each other? Oh, hell no!
It's pretty clear which restaurants welcome children and which don't. When in doubt, use my handy grilled cheese rule: If there's grilled cheese on the menu, it's a kid-friendly venue.
I know, you want your kids to eat well, but if you're that anxious for them to develop a taste for coq au vin, then invite Anthony Bourdain over to your house. Don't make the rest of us suffer.
2. R-rated movies.
We all remember last summer when a horrible person did something I don't care to recount at a late-night screening of a Batman film. Some people seized on the fact that there were kids in the theater and questioned any parent who would bring their children to such a film at such an hour. Then other people said it wasn't the right time to have that debate.
OK, well is now the right time? Because I really want to have that debate.
Just like with nice restaurants, I don't get out to see grown-up movies very often, and when I do, it's because I got a sitter. I knew my kids shouldn't be seeing “Argo” or “Paranormal 3”, so I acted responsibly. I know, sitters are expensive and not everyone has the extra cash. Boo hoo. So you know what? Wait three months for the movie to come out on DVD, because that'll save you even more money and you won't have to put up with me judging you from two rows back.
In case you didn't notice, you gave up your right to see the midnight release-day showing of anything the moment you became a parent. Get used to it: parenthood is full of disappointments. Let me be very clear: If you take very young kids to an R-rated movie, you are a terrible movie theater patron, but YOU ARE AN EVEN WORSE PARENT.
One of my favorite things about Facebook is seeing pictures of my friends' kids. My friends have extremely adorable children, and if they live far away, I probably don't get to see those kids very much. This is a good use of Facebook.
You know what's not a good use of Facebook? Seeing some eight-month-old baby's "status update". "I tried carrots for the first time today. Mommy flew them into my mouth on an airplane. Nummy!" We know your kid didn't write that! It was you!
The only thing worse is when you see a kid on Facebook, and it's actually the kid himself. Maybe not at 8 months old, but I've seen 7-year-olds liking my photos and inviting me to play Mafia Wars. People, Facebook has a minimum age of 13 for about 1,000 very good reasons. Yeah, yeah, child predators and stuff. But here's the one that matters to me: Facebook is a place where we can go to vent about our children. Don't ruin it for all of us by letting them join the club prematurely.
4. Times Square.
Even you out-of-towners have probably heard the great news that Times Square isn't sleazy anymore. A couple of Republican mayors cleaned it up and now it's practically Disneyland. Well, don't be fooled. The peep shows may be gone, but the skeevy derelicts who used to frequent them never left. They just put on SpongeBob costumes and started harassing tourists with small kids.
My partner and I made the mistake of taking our 3-year-olds there a couple of months ago. At first, the kids were in heaven, as they mingled with A-list stars of kiddie broadcasting, like we were at a Children's Television Workshop VIP reception. Look, Elmo! Abby Cadabby! Another Elmo!
We made the mistake of getting our picture taken with one of these characters, and like swarming gnats, the others swooped down on us, from Buzz Lightyear to the mangiest Cookie Monster I've ever seen to... what the hell are you? Some weird manga character? My kids don't know you. Stop photobombing our picture!
We were praying for our kids' sake that none of the people underneath these tattered Halloween mark-down costumes would open their mouths, because when they did, they didn't sound anything like their characters. They had thick foreign accents and reeked of YMCA bunk sweat. I'm pretty sure our Dora the Explorer was a middle-aged Japanese man.
Seriously, don't take your kids to Times Square unless you want to be forced to answer questions like, "Which one of those is the real Elmo?" or "Why is Hello Kitty's neck bleeding?"
How about I tip all you masquerading miscreants a dollar not to shatter my children's image of their cartoon heroes? Thanks.
5. The first-class section of an airplane.
You'll sometimes hear people make the argument that kids shouldn't be allowed in first class because it ruins the VIP experience for adults who paid a lot of money to sit there. Well, who cares about them? Maybe if I could afford to fly first class I'd shed half a tear for those spoiled jerks. That's not my problem.
I just hate when the spoiled jerk I have to take the Walk of Shame past to get to my cramped coach seat was born during the Obama administration. Nothing makes me feel the trumped-up class war of commercial air travel quite like watching Little Lord Fauntleroy enjoy his pre-flight Shirley Temple in a seat that's 10 sizes too big for him. Trust me, your kid doesn't appreciate the hot towel service at 30,000 feet. Was it really worth the $700 extra dollars it cost you?
Did you ever think about what you're teaching your kid by giving them access to a kind of privilege that eludes most people decades older than them? That trail of tears that leads back to Row 32 builds character, you know. We are the 99% of the plane, and your kid is too young to feel superior to us.
Besides, maybe if your kid was sitting in coach where he belonged, I'd have a better chance of scoring an upgrade.