My parents made us kids the center of their universe, and there wasn’t much that was off-limits. I mean, we got to sit in the front seat of the car: There was a rotating schedule, and everyone had a day, parents included. I guess you could say our house was somewhere between a democracy and a kidocracy.
Now that I’m a parent, I find myself doing things a little bit differently. For example, I bring my toddler son out to bars with us. Not hole-in-the-wall, dive bars or über-hipster spots like the ones in this New York Post article, but ones with outdoor spaces that serve craft beer (we have a lot of those in Columbus, Ohio).
My parents never would have done that kind of thing, because we kids wouldn’t have wanted to be at a bar. But, I’m not super concerned with whether my son wants to be there right now, because the most important thing is that we’re spending time together.
You see before, I had a baby, I read a book that really spoke to me, called “Bringing Up Bébe” by Pamela Druckerman. My main takeaway from this ode to French parenting was simply this: it’s ok to build your life with your children—not necessary around them. I took this to heart because I’m someone who’s often anxious about the fact that I’m not rushing off to the zoo with my son.
Frankly, I am not a huge fan of the zoo, so I figure that I can hold off on it until he’s old enough to really know he’s there. Same goes for Disneyland, or Disneyworld, or Disney-whatever.
Does that make me a bad mom? I don’t think so.
I get that Elliot is 2, and that maybe bars aren’t super appropriate, but I don’t really care. He hangs out with us and our friends, and so what if we drop the f-bomb and make unfiltered conversation? If he gets antsy, we pull out the iPad or another distraction, or we just call it a night. Everyone’s happy and it’s no big deal.
Don’t get me wrong, growing up in a kidocracy was amazing, but it made transitioning to adulthood just a tad harder. When you’re always the center of the universe, as I was, you have trouble understanding that when you enter the “real world” you can’t always play by your own rules. And even though I’m pushing 40, I still struggle with thinking it’s always about me. Perhaps it would have been better if I had just had to tag along more.
On the other hand, that “me-centric” view is maybe why I’ve decided it’s ok to bring my small child to a bar—because I’m only thinking about what I want to do. But could my selfishness help him later on, teaching him patience and the ability to see that other people’s needs matter too? We’ll see.
In the meantime, cheers.