Right after I found out I was pregnant, I did what any 33-year-old woman who wasn't sure whether she would ever have kids would do. I Googled "drinking before I knew I was pregnant," and "smoking before I knew I was pregnant" and then "was riding a jet ski at the lake before I knew I was pregnant and bounced up and down like a bunch of times all day long kinda hard is that bad?" But then I pictured my actual devil-may-care life -– bars! shows! barbecues! pool halls! -– with an actual baby in it, and asked the Internet for realz: "Where can you take a baby?"
Thanks, Internet. The good news is, everyone LOVES your baby! She is precious and sweet. She is so alert and aware, and my, look at how adorably shaped her head is. The bad news is, everyone hates your baby. Your baby is vile and smug, a symbol of human arrogance and indulgence. No matter how much she looks just like you if you looked even remotely like Kate Moss.
In other words, the answer to where you may take your squirming bundle is both everywhere and nowhere. For every person who thinks it's just so swell and modern that you incorporated your baby right into your weekly pedicures and stamp collecting group, there is someone else who thinks you're an asshole for even so much as thinking about taking your baby to that work bowling thing.
That's the thing about it. When, say, six months after you have your baby and your work friend gets a spot on a major television game show and your work rents out an upstairs room at a bar that's not in the bar but rather a private room with no smoking or anything and the get-together is at 5:30 p.m. and only lasts for an hour you actually think maybe it's fine to stop by with your 6-month-old just to well-wish and then duck out. Seriously? But no, you are an idiot, the room groans.
Did you know that? I bet you didn't know that. You seem like a nice person and your baby is nice but it seems like you didn't know the rules about babies. I can tell by the fact that you're reading this out loud to your baby at Burning Man.
But hey, we all know that one of the best things about having a baby is that it gives you an entirely new buffet of options for how to insult the general public. So just as aspiring drivers are taught that everyone on the road is a crazed idiot out to kill you, would-be parents should be told one harsh truth: Just assume everyone you meet hates your baby. That's it. That's all you've got to work with. So hand that baby a top hat and a cane and put it to work, ‘cause show business is murder, I tell ya.
In fact, here's a bunch of people and places who hate your baby and never want to meet it, not even once, and not even for five minutes:
- Car dealerships
- Your former employer at your exit interview
- French bistros
- Any and all furniture stores
- Any and all clothing stores
- Whole Foods
- Pediatricians (Actually, one of the pediatricians in your group practice actually loves babies -– good luck figuring out which one it is!)
- The cable guy
- Anyone who comes to your house to fix something
- The Post Office
Here are the people who love your baby and actually light up at the sight of it:
- Grocery store clerks between the hours of 4 a.m. to 6 a.m.
- The ladies at the DMV but only on Tuesdays
- That one woman at that one Indian buffet
- The waitress at that restaurant on the square in Oxford, Mississippi
- Your sister's boyfriend's best friend's mom that you met that one time when you were helping them move
- The old guy at the coffee shop on Washington Blvd. who thinks your baby is a boy
- Homeless people
- Two ladies you work with
- Interesting European men
I think part of the problem, if I've correctly evaluated all the available studies and results, is that apparently you're not acting deferential enough to strangers who have to be ANYWHERE near your baby. You seem to think it's totally fine that you're just out with your baby doing stuff. Don't you know that as soon as people see you that they're kind of annoyed that you even exist? That they're doing you a favor all the time? For every extra kid you have over the first one, annoyance increases by a scientifically calculated 16%. Apparently, you should act more like someone who knows they are doing something horribly wrong but who is super grateful to not be publically shamed.
Here's something you did one time that didn't help. When you were driving to take your baby to a broken glass factory wine-tasting party, you didn't immediately floor it when the light changed green while sitting in traffic because you were looking at your baby in the rear-view mirror instead. Um, the lady in the Jetta was trying to get to her friend's yoga class that already started and she only has this one free pass for this one time?
Also did you know how slow you are? Everywhere you go? Can't you go faster? Even a little? Do you ALWAYS have to strap the baby in the car seat? Some of us are trying to get to a movie?
Also, you took your baby to a restaurant where actual adults were eating. I think one of them was even interrupted when she was trying to talk about which season of The Bachelor was better. But you should really be thinking of it this way: if your baby cries, that guy's chicken tenders just became chicken TEARS. If your baby bangs a spoon on the table repeatedly, that lady's mushroom omelet just turned into a mushRUINED omelet.
In the end, you'll just have to navigate this road alone, except with the entire world judging you at every second. Just remember that there are two camps of people when it comes to life with a baby. There are the people who say that the baby must be taken along into life's less hospitable corners, the better to acclimate to the world as it is. Then there are the other people, the Jesus Are You Serious You Can't Take A Baby There people. Those people definitely use the Internet more. And they love the dick out of some Yelp.
Tracy Moore is a writer living in Los Angeles. Her baby is starting a website where you can rate people who rate things on Yelp.