A terrible thing that happened when I tried to write the blog today

A clever adult wins an otherwise difficult two-on-one battle by inducing nausea.

The original title of today’s blog post was “Winning the fight against children”—which made the photo caption a lot funnier—and I was having a lot of fun writing it until about 30 seconds ago. It all started when I saw this article in the Huffington Post, about a restaurant in Pennsylvania that has banned children under age 6. I love that kind of thing, as you know, and it happened to dovetail nicely with an article about US marriage and childrearing trends I found while reading the footnotes to The Marriage Vow yesterday. So I wrote this fun intro paragraph:

Despite powerful influence from the likes of Bob Vander Plaats and Bil Keane, American society is gradually reducing the number of children in our midst. Okay, the actual number of children nears an all-time high and grows larger every year, but that’s because there’s also so many of us. By some stroke of luck, long-term growth in the number of adults has kept pace with the growth of children—even exceeded it in some cases, I think, although I’m having trouble finding statistics. So although kids clog our streets and animal-themed pizza arcades, the percentage of children in society has stayed low. According to CBS News, the proportion of American households occupied by married couples with children has dropped to 25%, a development they felt merited the rarely-seen six-deck headline.

Then I wrote this next one:

I’m also going to completely derail the discussion for a moment to quote the lead to this CBS story about census data on American households in its entirety: “The latest Census Bureau figures indicate that baby boomers finally are settling down after two decades of social revolution that saw American families undergo dramatic changes.” Really? The baby boomers are finally settling down, now that they’ve turned 60? Maybe it’s possible, CBS News, that some other generation is responsible for trends in American childrearing now. Sorry—I’ll just shut up and wait for that weeklong miniseries about 1968.

Then I was like, “where is the total percentage of households with children in them for 2010? Why does all the census data stop at 1995?” I reread the article twice before I realized that Bob Vander Plaats and his Marriage Vow has cited as “the latest census data” a CBS News item from 1997. You got me again, Vander Plaats—first the Iowa Supreme Court, and now this. Anyway, the whole post is irreparably bifurcated now, so I’m just going to move on to the second part and say, man, I kind of wish that CBS were still putting all social trends in terms of the baby boomers just so I could get angry about it. I have psychological problems.

Okay, now the second part: a restaurant in Pennsylvania has announced that it will no longer admit children under age six. Mike Vuick, owner of McDain’s Restaurant and Golf Center—welcome to Pennsylvania!—sent an email to loyal customers explaining that “we feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.” Periodically, a restaurant will do this, and I write a blog post in support of them every time. The other thing that happens every time is that the parents of a toddler become outraged, allowing me to put a specific name to the normally generalized category of Whoever Brought the Toddler. This time, it’s Stephanie Kelly, mother of 13 month-old Jameson Kelley.

After Vuick remarked that there is “nothing wrong with babies, but the fact is you can’t control their volume,” Kelley said that she was “offended” and the policy was “ignorant.” “If they’re so concerned about noise,” she told WTAE, “what do they plan to do about the loud people at the bar?” To which I reply: of course there’s a bar. Why would you bring your 13 month-old child if there’s no bar? His name is Jameson, for Christ’s sake.

So it turns out that we started winning the fight against children 15 years ago, although along the way we have accumulated a certain number of quislings. The war on children has always been against an enemy in our midst—a civil war, if you will, even though it hasn’t been a tremendously civil war. Also, always read the dateline first. One’s observations are so much more timely when they are made about the present time.


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  1. As a father of one – wait, make that two….holy shit – young daughters, I totally support this action. In fact, it would be helpful if more restuarants made this choice and promoted it to their clients. As of now, I can bring my kids to whatever restaurant I want to. The problem is, some of them are cool with it and some are not. Sometimes it’s not until I’ve already been seated and viewed the menu and/or shit-smelling scowl on the waitresses face before I’m aware my kids are not welcome. It would be handy to know this ahead of time or even to be turned away by the hot underage greeter.

    It’s just like the smoking ban. A state-wide smoking ban is stupid, but if there a restuarant wants to ban smoking, then they will appeal to a certain clientel and are ok with turning another away.

    McDain’s is losing the dollars of families with young children while gaining more dollars of those soulless assholes who have no empathy, memory or understanding of what it is like to be a child. It’s their choice – I have no unalienable right to patronize any business – and the little bitch probably wouldn’t even finish one of her $7.99 chicken fingers anyways.

  2. The following makes clear I don’t have kids–and Tim M, bless you for your fortitude, selflessness, and (presumptive) ability to have stopped polluting your body for at least long enough to conceive two those two “holy shits” (all traits I hope eventually to master, but not before the physiology of aging makes them useless to anyone but–big surprise here–ME)–but I have to say, can we ban the _parents_ who think that it’s OK to bring a screaming toddler in a shitty diaper into a public establishment and expect everyone–including that toddler–to find it novel and exciting?

    I actually have plenty of empathy for KIDS–and I don’t think they necessarily enjoy being thrust into foreign environments wherein they must demonstrate a degree of patience, syntactical accuracy, and Post-ian etiquette many adults (years in the service service industry, here) have yet to master in order to get some fucking food. Isn’t that what parents–and not waitresses (yup, deliberately not saying “servers”) are for?

  3. I guess the problem as I see it is that my daughter, who is 3, is a very well-behaved little girl – most of the time. She is perfectly capable of sitting in her seat, talking in a reasonable volume, alerting us when she needs to whiz, etc. But like with all kids, sometimes she just goes apeshit. You never know when it’s coming. “I DIDN’T WANT YOU TO CUT UP MY HOT DOG! I NEVER GET A CHOICE! ” The fact that it happens less than 10% of the time offers very little consolation to the presently child-less patrons like yourself.

    People without kids seem to notice them only when they are throwing a fit, therefore confirming their doubts about whether they can be trusted with any type of social contract. Or perhaps more astutely, you distrust the parent(s).

    For my part, I am in support of this resturants right to draw this line in the sand – time will tell if it is a good business decision. I also bring my daughter to a sit-down restaurant on average once a month and if she does start to be a disruption I either nip that shit in the bud or we go outside.

    My wife and I enjoy a dinner out just like anyone else, and we deserve it just like anyone else. My daughter also needs to learn how to act in public. We promise not to tolerate her uppity bullshit and keep her ass in line. All we ask is that everybody else just tolerates her existence and tries to remember that it’s only been a year that she stopped shitting her pants on a daily basis – so concepts like inside voices and proper utenil use are still a challenge.

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