In the latest ridiculousness in the world of parents at restaurants, the Internet has been graced with the photo of a couple in Williamsburg, Brooklyn who rolled their crib down the street so that their baby could chill out in it while they had brunch. Or at least that’s what the headlines says. But in actuality, it’s not a crib. It’s a playpen. And we thought strollers were bad? Now parents are dragging furniture to restaurants? Why not just bring the rocking chair too so you can rock it to sleep after it spills its bowl of Cheerios? Or roll down the whole goddamn bedroom and then build some walls around it so you can pretend that you’re still at home. Oh, wait, you’re not at home. You’re at a restaurant. I really don’t get it. It seems to me that the parents would have had a full conversation about this decision before following through on it. It’s not like Mom was in the bathroom brushing her teeth while Dad was getting Junior ready to go to the restaurant and he just decided to bring the playpen and she was all, “Cool, hon. Let’s go.” I would think they they really discussed it first.
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if restaurants had playpens for babies?” says Dad. “I mean, really, it would be like so cool because Junior would have a place to hang out and we’d know he’d be comfortable but not stuck in his stroller, you know? Pass me the Doritos, man.”
“Oh. My. God. That is such a good idea, honey,” says Mom. “Why don’t restaurants have playpens? They totally should. These Girl Scout cookies are delicious but they’re stale. How old are they? Where did they come from?”
“Some bitch at work was selling them for her daughter. We need to change this screen, it’s all clogged,” says Dad as he flicks the orange Bic lighter and inhales deeply on the glass pipe he bought on 23rd Street and Sixth Avenue in front of the Best Buy. He coughs, as smoke billows across the living room.
“Cough, you get off,” says his wife. “So, maybe we should buy a restaurant and put playpens next to every booth so cool parents like us will have a place to eat brunch with their babies,” she says as she reaches across the coffee table for the pipe. “We should mix the Doritos with the Girl Scout cookies, that’d be good right?”
“It is good,” says Dad. “I did it already. So when are we gonna buy the restaurant with playpens?”
“I dunno,”answers Mom, “But in the meantime we can just roll ours wherever we want. It’s got fucking wheels, right? Fuck it.”
“That’s awesome! That’s a freakin’ awesome idea. Let’s do it now.”
Okay, but lemme take another hit first. Hey where is Junior?”
Twenty minutes later these parents are at Rosarita Fish Shack asking if it’s cool to set up a piece of fucking furniture on the sidewalk. Looking at the photo, the kid looks plenty old enough to be sitting in a booster seat. My favorite part of the picture is the lady sitting at the table behind them who is giving them one of two looks: “What the fuck are they doing?” or “I wonder how I can get my couch over here.” I also like the little girl in the back of the photo who is holding her mom’s hand. You just know that about ten seconds after this picture was taken, that little girl pulled a Veruca Salt and screamed out, “Mommy, I want my playpen at the restaurant!”
I suppose there are some good points to the kid being in its own private wooden jail cell. Its mess would be contained within the confines of the playpen and a playpen is a much bigger target than a stroller for me to drop random pieces of garbage into. But I wonder about the socialization of this kid. Isn’t that the age when a parent should begin teaching the child how to behave in public? It looks like they are missing a teaching moment there. I also wonder about the playpen itself. When was the last time those wheels were rotated? Does it need a permit? Is the warranty void if the playpen breaks when you’re pushing it across Bedford Avenue? I guess the most important question that this situation brings up is “How am I supposed to push a baby out of my way if it’s stuck in a playpen and not wandering around my station?