Our one and only daughter, Cordelia, cherubic bearer of all my hopes and dreams here on this Earth, just turned seven months old. Her eyes are turning brown. She can roll around. Thanks to constantly lifting her legs in the air, she has tight little baby abs.
As I understand it, the fun, low-key period of parenthood is rapidly coming to an end. Soon, I have to start parenting. I will have to simultaneously explain why she shouldn’t hit people and catch her at the bottom of the stairway she tried to jump down. And, the following week, she’ll hit puberty.
I’ve got parenting books. I’ve been reading ahead. It appears that one of the most pernicious qualities of parenthood is that every stage makes you realize miserably how easy you had it just months before.
Mommy and Daddy, Happy, With Baby In a Box
A few days ago, my wife and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary. This was a very unusual anniversary for us.
First, we remembered it. I have a long, depressing personal history of joining my wife in forgetting anniversaries. Fortunately, when you forget it and then you find out your wife forgot it too, it’s a total wash. You don’t get in near as much trouble.
Second, we have a baby now. This makes it much more important to celebrate our marriage, since now we’re stuck with it. So we want to go out and do something nice. But, unfortunately, we have a baby. What to do? What to do?
Fortunately, in Seattle, there is a new place called Restaurant Zoe. It’s your standard, trendy, fancyish, pricey, food-wanker French place, the sort that appears in large cities in any empty space that would fit a stove and a pile of scallops. What makes Restaurant Zoe different is that it makes a point to be extremely family friendly. Kids are very welcome there. Which is really, really weird in a place with edible food.
We went. I won’t go into detail about how many kids were there (only ours), how friendly the staff was (extremely), how Cordelia behaved (acceptably), or how good the food was (quite). I just want to know why this sort of thing isn’t more common.
Look. My wife and I got a kid. We didn’t get lobotomies. We are serious, stinky cheese, try the kidneys, restaurants are life, food-wanker sorts of people. For us, the most agonizing thing about having children was losing access to any restaurant that doesn’t have a fry vat or some quasi-edible, grease soaked horror with a name like “Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity®”.
I shudder in the depths of my being.
There must be a market here. There are a lot of parents in this country, and I am sure my wife and I are not the only ones who want culinary options more challenging than whether or not to have pickles and special sauce. How about places that are like Denny’s, that have crayons and rugrats, but don’t suck?
There must be a way.
The Sole Pleasing Solution For Parents Who Like Good Food
Good Chinese restaurants. No place makes families feel welcome like Chinese restaurants.
“But I hate people who bring kids to restaurants. And I hate you!”
Bite my ass. Being childfree means you get a life full of freedom and extra cash. You don’t have to be a dick about it too.
There are places you shouldn’t take your sprog. Good steakhouses. Most snooty restaurants. Hooters.
But there are places that should be fair game under any circumstances. For example, pizza. If you give me a dirty look when I bring a kid into a pizza place, you’re the asshole. I don’t care if it the fanciest, shiniest pizza place in the world. You can bring the kids to a pizza place. Period.
In fact, this applies to just about any restaurant serving food from a non-European ethnicity (Japanese being the lone exception). If the menu contains any of these words: “fajita”, “chai”, “curry”, or “injera”, than you can take the kids.
Damn it, having offspring should not have to mean divorcing oneself from civilization.
A Quick Addition, For the Benefit Of Any Idiots Reading This
OF COURSE, manners still apply. If the kid is screaming, take it outside. Don’t leave a one square mile of rice cake crumbs on the carpet. Don’t actually change the baby on the table. And so on. OF COURSE.
I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have had to say that. But some jackass would otherwise be bound to say “Well, kids shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants because they cry! So there!” Well, of course they cry. And then you pick it up and take it outside. No problem. Jackass.
Look, Commander Childfree. Someday, you’ll be old, and those stock options that were going to fuel your trips around the world will be so far underwater that giant squid are fucking them, and pensions are something your great grandparents and dinosaurs got, and the only thing enabling you to upgrade from generic to name brand cat food (“Look, honey! I got a chunk of meat!”) is the money my daughter will put into Social Security.
So, all things considered, I think you can stand a minute of mild squealing every once in a while. Suck it up.
My Little Darling’s Newest Skill
She can hold the pacifier in her mouth and scream at the same time.
Our House Is a Complex, Connected Network Of Cages
Now that Cordelia can flop herself across the floor of a room, we have had to babyproof the house. This means picking a large, suitable room and turning it into a jail. All this takes is erecting a simple pair of wooden gates.
Now daddy has to be a hurdle jumper to get anywhere in the house.
I honestly don’t know how much danger Cordelia is in from falling down stairs. But I am pretty sure that, one of these days, I’m going to be trying to carry her over a baby gate and I’m going to stumble and fall and accidentally absorb the force of my impact against the ground with her squishy little body. So I’m not sure that we have achieved an overall safety benefit here.
Baby Proofing Sucks Ass
To get materials for baby-proofing the house, we went to the Great Hall Of All Things Shoddy and Useless. In other words, Babies ‘R’ Us. They sold us a Child Safety Kit, filled with a variety of small, allegedly useful devices. We would have been better off just buying a huge spool of barbed wire and fencing Cordelia in with it.
The most offensively useless items in the packing were these little rubber bumpers you stick on the corners of the coffee table. In theory, when the baby trips and smacks her head against a sharp corner, her little skull bounces off unharmed. In practice, despite paying scrupulous attention to the instructions, the things fall off whenever someone merely brushes against them. The glue provided to hold them on is useless.
This would not be a problem if we could just explain to Cordelia that she should be very careful not to knock the rubber bumpers off before she falls against the corner of the table, eyeball first. Alas, since she does not speak English yet, the things are crap. We’d be better off just putting Post-It notes on the table which read “Cordelia, please do not smack your head against this. Thanks!”