We give one another the nod, clearing our throats as we make our exit, and try to find a place outside to enjoy our coffee and snacks.
I can commiserate with the play-date haters. Once upon a time I was one too. As a singleton and loyal coffee shop patron, I spent many a day trying to work quietly in public places in the early afternoon. Strollers annoyed me. The children seemed loud and obnoxious, and their parents seemed selfish and oblivious to my single-freelance-writer-in-a-coffee-shop needs. My glasses fogged as I huffed and sighed passive-aggressively until the mommy parties finally left.
As a young woman who appreciates date nights at fancy restaurants without crying toddlers, I can still commiserate with the eye-rollers. I recently attended a wedding where a young child talked through the entire ceremony. The parents didn’t stop him, let alone take him out of the room. Apparently, he was entitled to do what he wanted and the rest of us were out of luck. So we sat quietly and listened to a child’s high-pitched squeals instead of the couple’s vows. I was just as appalled as the childless guests.
And yet, as I make my way through L.A. with my friends and our children, I’ve begun to believe we parents have become guilty until proven innocent. Strangers assume we’re like those wedding parents – putting our needs before others or unable to say “no” to our kids. In fact, we – and, I would say, most parents – are responsible and sensitive to our surroundings.
I usually notice snide comments about “strollers taking up the sidewalk” on weekdays. Where I live, during the week most local parents hand their children over to nannies, who confine them to “child-friendly zones,” like parks, classes, zoos and backyards. On weekends, all ages parade down local streets. Kids munch bagels. Babies breastfeed at sidewalk cafes. But only weekends are for families; weekdays are reserved for professionals doing professional things. And that leaves stay-at-home parents feeling in the way five days a week.
“Where are we supposed to go?” my friend recently asked.