Thursday, August 07, 2008

Tweet-Up Gawn Baaaaaad...

(...but not 'cause of the Tweeters themselves)

On the Tweeter Tube:

from Sophmom Please tell me that someone's blogging story of the toddler-laden tweet-up at CCs in NOLA from which tweeters were asked to leave. Please.

from me: Oh, dear God. You really wanna hear about that? I only wish we'd have outnumbered the folks on their laptops...

What the hell. It's been emblematic of my day anyhow, the events at the coffee house meet up.

It was spur of the moment, just like my son deciding this morning that he didn't feel well, just to get out of going to camp. I kept him at home, got frustrated with him when he wanted to do things like head to the Children's Museum (you're supposed to be feeling bad...and you wanna go to a museum? Think again, kid!), and finally, to get over my feelings of being trapped at home, I saw a nifty message from Loki of a Tweet Up of bloggers at a local CC's Coffee House. Oh, to meet up with Loki, Pete, Nola, and, for the first time evah, the Southern Mom! How could I possibly resist?

I strode in a little after 4 PM with the little guy in tow. We all settled in, even the kids: Nola's girl Sun, SoMo's Sam, and her Amber and my little guy, both of whom immediately became engrossed in a conversation about SpongeBob. Nola had already expressed some reservations over the increased decibel level a gaggle of kids could add to a coffee house (or a chaos of kids). And, actually, things were pretty calm with the kids at first.

The potential for a coffee house clash was there, however, because we were surrounded by tables of people working on their laptops. At least five of 'em. Hell, now that I think back on it, we probably could have taken 'em on. Nola's Cap'n Sarcastic was there, and soon we were joined by another local blogger, so we could have bashed in some heads with the laptops all around while the kids kicked in some shins.

Alas, we are supposed to be a civilized bunch, we blogging folks. It is one of the reasons why we blog in the first's we don't have to act out our true feelings on an unsuspecting public. We are actually doing all of you mere mortals a service by blogging - more than most of you will ever, ever know. So, in the end, the laptop brigade around us didn't quite understand that, as parental units, we were just grasping at a chance to get together.

SoMo and I were talking about how early the cliquish tendencies of kids are marshalling themselves these days (Five-year-olds in cliques? Somebody shoot me now...) and marvelling at how well the little guy and Amber were getting along, when things took a rambunctious turn. My son and SoMo's Sam began running back and forth with each other in the shop and giggling at full-tilt, with Amber half-joining in, half-trying to calm things down (the former was winning out). We're parents, and we are not of the faint of heart when it comes to rambunction - hell, we've even been known to join in on it ourselves. Problem is, the noise echoed around the shop and carried back to a thin, pale lady, who walked up to us and asked us as politely as she could to please rein in the noise, because she was trying to study and to listen to something on her laptop earbuds.

And here's where we get stuck as parents.

from Soulprncs2 How did the meet up go, you ask? Well, those of with children were politely asked to leave, because we, apparently, breed heathens.... Reason 1: I never go to coffeehouses and I don't drink coffee. I guess I missed the memo that coffeehouses were the new libraries.

from me: I believe the heathens are our future/Teach 'em well and let 'em screech their way....Those kinds of occurrences are the times when I am reminded why parents don't eat their young: the public is happy to do it.

Our responsibility is, first and foremost, to our families. Problem is, parents are still people, and parenthood can be isolating. When we click with other parents, it is a good great thing, and we want it to continue. But trying to do this in public places can be difficult sometimes. It can feel as though we are being pushed aside and cordoned off. Parenthood as quarantine. Nasty looks and a feeling of being surrounded by people who seem to have forgotten that they were once kids as well, or that they once had to deal with kids of their own (actually, that last bit I can certainly understand - I'd love to have a huge, blissful hole in my brain leftover from the omission of my memories of my son's first impossible year on this planet, but it ain't happening).

Southern Mom had to take the kids with her shortly after this lady asked us to keep it down. She, Amber, and Sam had already been there a while, so once the kids were riled, she knew how tough it was gonna be to calm 'em down and she took 'em home. I wish I'd been able to spend more time with her and her kids, but the environment didn't give us that luxury. And, even though she, Nola, and I hadn't been asked outright to head out and take our kids with us, that implication was there.

I know I'm going to get some people trying to reason with me on this somehow. Perhaps it's simply the day I had, but it was hot out. We were trying to get together and have a good time, and taking the kids outside in the heat and humidity would have lasted about two minutes, maybe. This wasn't a bar, it was a coffee house - and, come to think of it, I've gotten better receptions from people in the bars in NYC when I've had my son in tow than from the folks in the coffee house today. I do my best to be an advocate for my son and for a public that has great potential to be annoyed by his antics, and I end up feeling split in two.

Pardon me, O Omnipotent Public, but I'm sick of the split. And your reason ain't all that reasonable to me....because, in the end, the raising of children can turn reason upside-down, inside-out, and create whole new dimensions. Welcome to my world.

Today, you can kindly take your requests for me and my fellow parents to straitjacket our children and shove 'em up your asses sideways with a chainsaw.

That is all. Have a nice damn life.

Update, 8-8: For more on this incident, head to Southern Mom.


SoMo said...

I think you said it better than I did. My problem was more with what she was saying about me, as a parent. Just feeling a little thin skinned, lately.

Leigh C. said...

I am, too. Parenting is tough enough without this crap from other people.

saintseester said...

I'm sorry your outing wasn't all you hoped for. You made a very good point about how parents of very young children can feel very isolated.

All, I can offer is that it does get easier as they get older. It really does. But, I still crave the contact of grown adults who are not going to argue with me about whether or not I really know MATH.

Keep on keepin on, and hey, let 'em drink coffee, because you know caffeine makes it ALL more fun! My daughter goes in a coffee shop and always asks the barista for a cup-o-joe! She's 9. Continue teaching them well.

Sophmom said...

Thanks! Great story, well told. What it says to me is that we're in need of a chain of kid-friendly adult gathering places (as opposed to adult-friendly kid gathering places), a coffee/snack/tea/whatever house with distraction of some kind for the kids built in (preferably air conditioned). There's a franchise opportunity there for someone who can fund the start up.

I think I've told you that I didn't dare take Thomas anywhere "grown up" 'til he was like, 6? Heck, I couldn't even take him inside Micky D's 'til then. For Michael's Loyno graduation, he played host to the whole family for dinner at Mr. B's (using his check card tied to my account). My, how time flies.

Anyway, thanks again, so much for fulfilling my request. It was deeply satisfying. :)

Cold Spaghetti said...

This sort of stuff makes me crazy. Kids need to get out, be seen, and see how the world works. Deal with it, people! If folks are bent out of shape about it, then they can pitch in a help... criticism does nothing to help anyone, except to maybe inflate self-importance.

On that note, I think I'm going to take Kate (home from school this week) and go walk up to CC's.

I think we should make a Mommy-blogger group and go terrorize the city...

Cold Spaghetti said...

BTW... Mockingbird Cafe on Oak has a bunch of kids' toys, a big low table for kids to gather 'round, and even a kid-friendly snack list. (Abeona goes there for snack often.) The hours are of the 'whenever we want' variety, but at least it's a start toward the kid-friendly venue!

A friend of mine (local 'Music Together' teacher) has been talking about a parenting group where we send certificates of appreciation to places that make themselves kid-friendly. Dunno if it would make a difference, but it's something...

nola said...

Very nicely written. I fear the day Sun isn't the quiet, obeying child. :(

Tweet-ups with chirren to be at a home next time, for sure!

Maitri said...

Never will I understand how one can study in a coffeeshop, which to me is a place for socialization and *gasp* drinking coffee with, perhaps, friends or today's newspaper. This odd phenomenon took off when I was an undergrad when cafes became all the craze. Back then, the baristas hated that one or two people would come in with their books, occupy a table for four or more and purchase one cup of coffee (to make ghetto lattes) for the entire time they were there. There were 30-minute to one-hour study limits imposed for this very reason.

That said and also stating that I would like to be a mother soon, the sound of large groups of children (or any known source of chaos) in a small space makes my ears hurt. Add to that the fact that more and more parents don't tell their kids to behave in public grates at the way I was raised. But, kids will be kids - they play, run around, make noise and have fun. There has to be a combination of parental discipline, public awareness that kids exist and will make noise and taking your damned "studying" home so that everyone can enjoy their coffee how they see fit.

Leigh C. said...

It's a constant struggle, all of it. I don't understand when coffee shops became libraries, myself. They used to be great, mostly non-alcoholic places in which one could watch the world go by and schmooze some with friends. Funny how that's changed...

Maitri said...

If that girl had come up to me and said that, my response would have been, "This place doesn't look like a library carrel or your personal study area / music listening chamber to me. Please take your studying to be seen elsewhere." Oy with the poodles already!

NOLA radfem said...

Unbelievable! It's a coffee shop, for heaven's sake!

(this is me bowing to you for your restraint in not decking somebody)

nickib said...

I agree that parents of young ones need to get our and socialize with other adults. It makes for better parents.

I agree that kids need to be in the society with adults. Makes for better kids who grow up to be better adults.

Totally agree that some people are intolerant of kids, even in places like coffeeshops that any thinking person would realize are not "kid-free zones".

You totally lost me by being po'd that people were upset kids were making lotsa noise and running around.

Holy sense of entitlement batman. The parents crossed the line in not either keeping the noise down to a dull roar or leaving. Sorry

Funky-Rat said...

I don't "get" the coffee house types either. They invaded a nice little restaurant we liked to frequent while travelling, and turned it into snob heaven. It's gotten so bad that if you're ordering food and you want it without something (like cheese or onions), you have to stand by while they call the kitchen and "ask permission" to make it that way. They have lost my business.

I must admit that I do get frustrated when I go somewhere and there are kids running roughshod (and yes, no kids here - I wasn't blessed that way) but from the sound of what you're saying, it really wasn't that bad. What gets me is stuff like kids throwing food, disrupting people at tables (like trying to take things from their table), and stealing things while parents sit idly by, laughing and commenting at how cute it is (happened to me more than once).

I "read" none of that in what you all posted, and I agree that there are alot of very intolerant people who feel that public places are theirs and theirs alone - and they do it to those with and without kids.

Good idea on the kid-friendly meeting place. Something less than a restaurant but more than a picnic area, for example.