Not Such a Mack Daddy (or Mommy)

Stroller Shuuned at Mack’s Bar and Grill

My recent Saturday afternoons have me taking Nate to a toddler swim class at the Y, then taking care of some shopping chores, then running him ragged at the playground to induce a delightfully deep nap.   The I get to meet my wife for a peaceful lunch out while Nate snoozes in his stroller.

This afternoon I thought we’d check out the newly open Mack’s (formerly Elementi, formerly Snookys.) It was empty, 2 people at the bar and less than 5 people eating in the back. We made our way to one of 4 empty booths in the front, and a waitress informed us that the owner didn’t like strollers in the front.  We said that we didn’t want to wake our 2 year old up and we were happy to sit anywhere, and slide the stroller wherever it wold fit.  Apparently the owned didn’t like strollers in the back either.  So my wife said, “maybe we should come back when we don’t have our son?”  “That’d be great,” the waitress replied, apparently immune to my wife’s dry irony.

We left.  And won’t be back, with or without our son.

I don’t want to get into should children be allowed in bars mishegas (especially as Mack’s is CLEARLY a restaurant.) And if a restaurant doesn’t want strollers (or children for that matter) in their establishment, that is their prerogative.

Maybe we just caught a bad day, or bad waitress, but I won’t be back to Mack’s because they are STUPID! Mack’s is in Park Slope.  They may even have a children’s menu. And pretty much everything else they serve might as well be on a children’s menu. Yet they don’t want strollers? Why would you create a policy that alienates so much of neighborhood?

At 1PM Saturday Mack’s was hurting.  No brunch crowd at all, it was all but empty and was not going to fill up that afternoon. Yet they are turning away customers because they have  no stroller policy.  You could have parked 6 Bugaboo’s, 4 Phil and Ted’s and a couple of Bob “double wides” to boot, and you would not be in violation of any fire code, or hamper the egress of the eight people there. There was no downside to having a family and stroller there, except that they don’t want their fine establishment with the “stigma” of being family friendly.  (Or as we call them in Park Slope, the restaurants that stay in business.)

Plenty of restaurants have managed to strike a balance between family, Two Boots is the Slope’s go to family destination, yet still has a hoping bar scene at night.  A few people have complained about the Tea Lounge being overrun with kids in the afternoon, but the Tea Lounge can’t hear you with all the money coming out of their ears.  Barrio is seems to a very brisk business to both families (with and without strollers) and childless alike.

We have taken the nappin’ Nate to lunch at a lot places a lot nicer than Mack’s with no trouble (Belleville, Sette, Sotto Voce, Cafe Steinhof, Applewood, The Chip Shop, Franny’s, Get Fresh, 12th Street Bar and Grill, to name a few.)

There was a silver lining after our rebuke fro Mack’s, we noticed that the Korean restaurant Moim had recently started opening for brunch.  They were accommodating to us and our sleeping child, the service was excellent, and our Bi Bim Bop, and Bul-Go-Ki cheese steak were delicious!

Of course there have been occasion when a restaurant has been too crowded to squeeze a stroller in, and we were always fine with that, we aren’t looking to make a statement, just for a restaurant to make sense.


Bitter Blog for Sale

These boots are made for branding.

I just finished reading the NYT article “Honey, Don’t Bother Mommy. I’m Too Busy Building My Brand” and about Bloogy bootcamp.

Bored mothers used to start a vanity business around their passion, “Chomping at Knit Knitting”, “Doggie Couture”, “The Erotic Cheese Wheel”…  Some succeeded, most didn’t, but it didn’t matter, they were finding an outlet with something they felt they could share with the world.

Now, with blogs, anyone can start spouting off like an expert with insights, but without any insight or expertise, and judging from some of these “parenting” blogs, any passion for what they write about. In fact, a lot of these bloggers genuinely seem to hate being a parent, so I’m not sure why they would use their free time to rehash how much you hate your life.  The answer, to create their “brand” and sell it.

Now, I’m not talking about the people (I put myself in this category) who just are using “the Blog” as a cathartic, creative, or  sharing experience. I’m talking about the people who go to Bloggybootcamp, Moms 2.0 and the like, who want to build their “brand,” court sponsors, and look for mommysite VCs (if there are such things.)

I understand that blogging is a new medium, a hybrid of a personal journal and citizen journalism. But what makes blogs interesting is the individual, not the group-think. I guess nasty and snarky is easier to sell than earnest. And some these seminars reek of Tom Vu.

I know,  this make me sound like a 21st century crank.  Oh well.  I just am sick of the bitter blog trend.

Baby Slings: Mothering Bond or Smothering Bind?

After a sling trip to the Met, my back felt like I built the pyramids.

Apparently, wearing your baby is either  an in vogue way to bond with your child, or incredibly irresponsible, depending on which article you read in the New York Times this week.

The Latest in Strollers, Mom and Dad” talks about how more parents are getting baby carriers and eschewing strollers.  In addition to “fostering a strong attachment,” baby carriers are popular with parenteratti, “with celebrities like Brad Pitt and Keri Russell” seen wearing their children. (I guess this helps justify buying a $540 designer sling ?!, which is essentially a piece of cloth.)

Yet a few pages deeper in the paper was the article, “Govt to Warn on Baby Slings Because of Deaths.” The Consumer Product Safety Commission is about to issue a warning about the possible suffocation risks with certain baby slings.

It’s enough to make an overprotective parents head explode!

From my own experience, a slings are safe and great for short trips, but would never replace my stroller.

I know other babies love the child to parent contact, but my son rarely slept while strapped on, and we tried 3 different carriers.  But he always napped soundly (and still does) in the stroller.

He outgrew his Baby Bjorn at 13 months(the Bjorn has 25 lb weight limit , you’d think the strapping Swedes would accomodate a bigger baby), he kept slipping through the Moby (you need to take a lesson from the Merchant Marine Acadamy to make sure that thing is secure,) and by the time we got the Ergo, which mom, dad and baby all liked, he was just too heavy to carry around for any extended periods.

And the usefulness of a carrier diminishes after tour child is a year old.  Maybe the mothers of !Kung San tribe in the Kalahari can carry 25+ pounds strapped to their body all day, but my back can’t take more than a couple of hours max. I leaned this the hard way. “We don’t need the stroller,” I arrogantly told my wife before a trip to the  Metropolitan Museum of Art when my son was less than 6 month old.  The next day my back was so sore I could barely get out of bed (although Nate did really like the Egyptian wing.)

Quasimodo never used a stoller

Maybe all these people who never use a stroller and call them “isolation pods” are all married to chiropractors. Because if I had to rely on a sling to get my son around, I’d look like Quasimodo after the first 6 months.

I am interested to see what the official Consumer Product Safety Commission warning says, but I’m guessing common sense will apply, ie. make sure your baby’s airway is always clear, and don’t let them curl up in a ball at the bottom of a rucksack.

Return to the Gowanus Canal

Super Fun Super FundJust felt compelled to say something about the Superfund status recently given to the Gowanus canal.

Everyone agrees that the canal needs to cleaned up. But here has been a lot of debate as to who should do it.  The EPA is now saying they will take the reins, sue the people responisble for the pollution, and clean the canal in 12 years.

Mayor Bloomberg thinks the city could have cleaned up he canal more quickly by getting polluters and developers to voluntarily contribute to the clean up.

Mike, really? C’mon!  Toll Brothers wanted to start building right away, toxic waste dump or not.  Developers don’t care about the consequences. Build, sell, move on.  That’s the developer creedo!  The canal has been an industrial dumping ground for over 100 years. It will take at least a dozen years to clean regardless who is doing it.

Really, Mike?

I mean, really?!?

I feel bad for the residents who are upset because of the stigma and loss in property value that comes with a Superfund brand.  But trust me, that stigma would be a lot worse if it wasn’t cleaned up, and people started developing cancer and high rates of birth defects.

But we really should look at what’s important, and that isn’t property values, or how long its going to take.  What is important is knowing the risks of living on a toxic dump.  And the thing that really scares me isn’t the mercuryleadPCBs, that they already now is there, but god knows what else is buried in the muck that they don’t know about.

Having the feds decontaminate the canal isn’t ideal (the government is never swift), but they do have a decent track record for cleaning up some of the worst hazardous waste sites. And at least they are not on some real estate developers pay roll (as far as I know.)

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

Nate particularly likes galm era Bowie

I got an urgent call on my way to work.  My wife Juliet was calling, my 2 1/2 year old son Nate was asking mom to play a specific song.  He was trying to whistle and saying “sun, sun, sun.”  He was emphatic  and Juliet was baffled.

“It sounds like 5 Years Time by Noah and the Whale?” I said.

(whistling) Oh in five years time we could be walking round a zoo…

“Nate’s dancing.  Do you play this a lot?”

“We danced around to it once, maybe 3 or 4 weeks ago.”

This is not unusual.  Before he could even say “plane” he could hear them way before I could. He can hear when I come in the apartment building, from the 3rd floor. But he has more than the hearing of a cocker spaniel, Nate seems to have excellent aural recall.  He has always liked music, which isn’t odd, but after listening to David Bowie’s “Life on Mars” inscessantly  he now points out any time he hears David Bowie, any Bowie song. “Under Pressure” was playing in the mall, and Nate points up and says “David Bowie?” I almost told him, “It’s actually Bowie and Queen” but it seemed petty to quibble with a 2 year old.

Maybe he just has good hearing, but I’m wondering if there is any correlation to acute aural definition and musical ability?

Or maybe this is just normal for all kids as they catalog the world through sound.  I don’t know, I honestly cant find any research on children’s hearing, except when there is hearing loss.  But the fact that he is doing more than just hearing, but identifying, I find fascinating.