It seemed that every parent in Park Slope was talking about it. A new bar was opening on the edge of the neighborhood and its owner had put out the word to local families: strollers welcome.
This was big news among the stroller set in a Brooklyn neighborhood where relations between those with children and those without have often been testy.
But within days of the June 28 opening of the bar, Greenwood Park, vitriol erupted online.
Several patrons took to Yelp, the popular review Web site, to complain — loudly — about the influx of children.
“I arrived around 6 PM with friends and showed my ID to the doorman. OH YEAH, time for a laid back and relaxing time with some frosty beverages and bar food! WRONG, welcome to Chuck-E-Cheese in South Slope,” a Yelp reviewer, John H., posted on July 3. “From infant to toddler to preteen, every age except adult seemed to be well represented. I’m not sure why they even put tables and chairs in. It would have been far more practical to just throw a jungle gym in there and call it a day.”
It seems like a little common sense here would go a long way. Kids in a large outdoor bar in the afternoon or the early evening? Meh. Get over it. I don’t live in Park Slope but I live in an adjacent neighborhood, and there are plenty of bars that aren’t stroller-friendly. Go to one of those if you want an early drink and don’t want kids around. Parents live in the neighborhood too, and they shouldn’t be obligated to hire a babysitter every time they want to go out for a drink. I agree that particular stroller-related behaviors are beyond rude — for example, parking your enormous stroller in the middle of the aisle at a small restaurant so that patrons and waiters can’t get around it — but this is a large outdoor bar with plenty of room. There are other outdoor bars in Park Slope and all over the city that aren’t as kid-saturated. And if you’re in a family-heavy neighborhood and you’re out in the afternoon or early evening, it’s ridiculous to think that all the kids will be shuttered away inside. Stop acting like entitled dicks — you’re out in Park Slope, you don’t get to demand child-free spaces everywhere.
But parents? You also need to stop acting like entitled dicks. I know every time parenting comes up on this website we get the two camps of “CHILDREN ARE ANNOYING AND I WANT ADULTS-ONLY SPACES” and “PARENTS ARE ALWAYS DOING THEIR BEST AT ALL TIMES AND CHILDREN ARE PART OF SOCIETY AND REQUESTING THAT ANY SPACE ANYWHERE EVER BE FREE OF CHILDREN IS BIGOTED,” and frankly I think both of those camps are ridiculous. But, look, parents are people too. And just like some people suck, some parents suck. If you’re going to take your kid to a bar, go for it! Good on you especially for choosing a family-friendly bar where your stroller will fit and where blaring music won’t damage your child’s ears. But if you take your kid to a bar (or a restaurant or many other spaces where there are lots of people sharing the space), you have to watch the kid. If the kid is riding his tricycle into peoples’ legs, that’s not cute; it’s rude (also, perhaps don’t bring tricycles into bars. Come on now). Children are part of society, but part of raising children is teaching them how to behave when they’re out in public. Yes, it’s an outdoor bar, but it’s not a playground — “frolicking and yelling” is not appropriate behavior, and raising a child entails teaching them what is and isn’t appropriate in which venues. So yes, I am sure they are having fun, but maybe a bar isn’t the place for a game of tag. And if you bring your kid to a bar, you don’t get to be testy if someone is loudly using the f-word, or is telling a dirty joke, or is generally acting drunk and tipsy, or if people are making out. It’s bar. That’s what happens.
This, though, is a good point:
Mr. Kates said he had seen children jumping on other patrons’ tables and bumping into adults. On one occasion, he said, a child on a tricycle collided with his friend’s leg. And, echoing the complaints of many a Park Slope barfly, he said he had gotten dirty looks from parents who considered the other patrons’ language too, well, bar-like for children’s ears.
“If this was going on in Bed-Stuy, parents would be indicted, bars would be closed,” he said, “but because it’s Park Slope, it’s for some reason acceptable.”
Yeah. (For the non-New Yorkers, Bed-Stuy is a traditionally black neighborhood). Doesn’t mean we should close down kid-friendly bars in Park Slope, but it’s a fair observation.
Shorter version of this post: Use common sense. Don’t be a jerk.
(That is almost definitely asking for too much).