Children, out of sight!

Children, out of sight!

As a new parent, I’m appalled at the number of op-eds and stories I’m seeing from status-obsessed yuppies. Take this article from New York Magazine called “Is There Such a Thing as Adult Space in New York Anymore?”

A new mothe—who not only admits that she was once one of those snobs who sneered at mothers and children who invaded “adult” spaces like coffee shops and bookstore but also admits she wishes were one of them still—talks about how difficult her life is because she can’t hang out at her snooty coffee place anymore because her kid is a nuisance. It’s all so self-referential and self-centered, right down to referring to baby strollers, not as “baby strollers”, but by their brand names: “The second baby was quiet, but her Bugaboo was next to the door, and as patrons came in, they eyed the monstrosity like it was a Nets arena.”

And while I agree that people are taking children to all sorts of places today that children don’t really belong—I mean, dive bars? Really?—there’s also a whiff of the idea that many rich, white, urbanites would rather not be reminded of children anywhere they go. Once you have a child, you’re relegated to Chucky Cheese and the McDonald’s drive-thru and the Saturday afternoon matinee until they kiddies have been shuffled off to Vassar and Yale.

It’s funny that the author sees a bunch of yuppies having one or two children each and declares that New York is overrun with them. Talk to anyone who lived in the city (any city) 50 years ago and they’ll tell you about urban families.

What Lebowitz speaks to is a growing feeling that New York, with its Whole Foods and Buy Buy Babys, is no longer New York. The town once dominated by many diverse subcultures (gays, nightclubbers, smokers, deviants) now looks far more white and nuclear. And this makes some people very, very angry.

What sick kind of world do we live in when deviancy is more welcome than a normal nuclear family?

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  • This has been more common at very pricey, nice restaurants. There is a problem, and it was well documented in Park Slope Brooklyn, where people kept taking their tykes to BARS. Not nice, mall restaurants that serve beer, but your standard wood floor, wood bar, smelly bathroom BARS. They guy actually started to put up signs about no kids at certain times. “This is a BAR, not Kidsplace”. Of course the six-figure income, million dollar co-op Mommy crowd attacked him for this, I say “Bravo!”. (thats alluded to in the article)
    One cannot underestimate the ego of well-to-do NYers thinking it is their right to do anything, even with their kids.

    I personally love seeing kids, and I don’t go out to eat at night, unless its business.

    FYI, here are the restaurants she mentioned. This is a different level on the soc-econ ladder:

    Not places I think of taking a kid. Most kids I know when they are in NYC (my nieces and nephews), always wanted to go the corner Diner. That was the coolest thing to them, but then they were older.

  • Oh, and as a single, childless NY’er, I don’t feel put upon at all by kids—- well save when they are older. The real problem in NY is the number of club kids that take to puking (and recently dying) after their underage drinking sprees. These same kids are back a few years later, and now are three to a one bedroom, partying all night and upsetting the neighbors. They treat Manhattan as one big dorm. I stayed away from any building that had that, which is quite a few.

    I think it is important to realize just what type of restaurants she is refering to, these are upscale, quiet places where some couples may have booked a special time or saved to experience it, and then theres her six month old to greet them.

  • Elizabeth Ann:

    First of all, the nuclear family is not ‘normal’ (as an Italian, Dom, you should know that).

    It most certainly is normal and I don’t know what having Italian ethnicity has to do with it. Father-mother-children is the nuclear family and what God intended. All the other variations are exceptions or abnormalities.

    Everyone else:

    There are two different phenomena here, inter-related but distinct. There are the inattentive parents who can’t be bothered to discipline their children or teach them to behave around others or refuse to deal with them appropriately if they can’t behave (being too young, for example.)

    And then there are those snobs who refer to fsmilies as “breeders” and look at children as noisy interruptions to their days instead of the future taxpayers of this country who will one day pay for their Social Security because they’re too self-actualized to have their own kids who will take care of them some day.

  • I think you were being referred to the extended family (multi-generational) rather than the “it-takes-a-village” mentality.  As opposed to the nuclear family.  The point being that we aren’t meant to live without grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.

    In that case, I still disagree in many ways. I have no aunts, uncles, or cousins on my mom’s side, and while my dad is one of eight, I wouldn’t say I’m close to his family (divorce creates funny relationships).

    Plus the Church speaks of the family, the nuclear family, in her teachings on the domestic church, on the rights of families, on the salutary effects of family, and so on. Not extended family. Extended family is good, but I wouldn’t declare it to be superior to the nuclear family.