I had a little date with some girlfriends last night. We went out to a local music venue/café/bar and saw a bluegrass rock band (the front man dates one of my friends). I put Kaspar to bed in advance of the outing, then let my hair down, slipped on my favorite gold heels, and kissed Aaron goodbye; he’d agreed to stay home on baby-watch while I went out and did my thing. Once there, I sipped a glass of wine and chatted with my friends as we waited for the band to go on, somewhat savoring the sensation of being off-duty on the mom front for some reason other than work (I was only going to be out for a couple hours, which is at this point about the max on my baby-free comfort zone). As soon as the band took the stage, however, I thought “Wow, I’d really like Kaspar to see this.”
I didn’t mean that I’d like him to see it now exactly—a seven-month-old really has no business at a loud concert late at night—but I can picture equipping him with earplugs and setting him loose on the scene a few years down the road. Watching a band of five grown men dressed alternately like glam rockers and Huck Finn (bare feet/overalls) play the fiddle, banjo, guitar, drums and base and sing their hearts out/head-bang filled me with a wholesome kind of happiness like only live music can. I want to expose Kaspar to this kind of publicly creative display, too. I want him to see this version of what exactly it is that grown-ups do at night—in this case, collaborate, celebrate, and entertain. It's inspiring! It’s a little more edgy than Disney on Ice, but it’s also a lot less conrived… and, I would argue, more fun.
Kaspar spent the first six months of his life pretty much accompanying us on whatever plans we’d made. The boy has been to many a brunch and dinner party. We didn’t really think about whether our plans were child-friendly, per se (we did, of course, account for things like feedings and diaper changes and naps and the like--- it was not by any means business as usual). In fact, during our first excursion out of the house after he was born (which was only a walk but felt like a very big deal), we realized halfway down our block that it was St. Patrick’s Day and ended up at our favorite neighborhood bar (as a side, it’s true that a Guinness is good for the breast milk supply…).
“Can we do that?” Aaron asked, when I suggested we go there.
“Bring a baby into a bar?”
We deliberated for a few minutes and decided that, since it was only 3 p.m. and the bar was relatively upscale (not snobby, but not a dive), we’d give it a shot. Kaspar was even wearing green. As it turned out, we met another couple with an eight-month-old baby (who looked enormous and amazingly coordinated to me, at the time) in the bar that day, and I thus made my first Brooklyn mom-friend. So it worked out.
Now that Kaspar’s interactive and mobile, and on a more defined schedule (we do not take him out past his bedtime anymore, because that’s asking for trouble in the sleep department all night… and the next night, too), we’ve started doing baby and kid-specific things. We went to a “children’s show” at a local coffee shop a few weekends ago. I tended to Kaspar as he mingled—the kid can network like nobody’s business—with other babies and small children, and Aaron stood sipping coffee and watching the children’s musician man sing “Baby Beluga” on a stage in the center of the room. It was pretty fun, as far as those things go, in that us parents weren’t forced into pantomime or other forms of participation, and watching little kids raid the stage, and Kaspar interact with other babies (he loves other babies), was entertaining to say the least. The lighting was low, the coffee was awesome, and the other parents clearly considered themselves more hip than your average bear. But, still, we were rocking out to ‘Baby Beluga.’ There’s no way around it; we’ve entered into a new phase of outings.
It’s a phase we signed up for; it’s not a bad thing at all. Just different. We’re a family of three now. Kaspar’s increasingly developing and expressing his own preferences and interests, and we’re going to foster and attend to those as much as possible as he grows. Save for dates out without him, there is no part of my life now that is exempt of mama-hood’s impact. So I’m doing some incorporating here, some modifying there, and a whole lot of exploring (took a mama/baby yoga class for the first time recently—read my review here). And just as I think it’s important for us to go to the family-time sing-alongs—as well as all of the story time hours, children’s-oriented theatrical productions and Chuck-E-Cheez ball-pits of the not-so-distant future, I also want Kaspar to be able to come along to the rock concerts, gallery openings and even overseas travel adventures that we so enjoy (at least I think we enjoy overseas travel adventure… it’s been a while… we definitely like watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, if that counts). Austin, like Brooklyn, is a kid-inclusive kind of town, where you’ll see plenty of children in bars, and there are also lots of fun specifically kid-oriented events and activities going on. So, I think there’ll be lots to choose from as Kaspar gets bigger and we venture farther into our community and world, together, as a family.
Do you bring your baby or kids to parties, concerts and bars that aren’t specifically children’s venues (not that there are a lot of bars geared towards kids, exactly)? What kind of activities do you take part in, or accompany your kids on, that are geared primarily towards the kids? Are there any activities on either side of the spectrum that are off-limits, due to propriety or the boredom-factor? What kind of activities do you engage in as a family that all of you really enjoy?