It’s 8 p.m. on a Thursday, the first night of a local jazz festival, and I’m out at the bar, diggin’ the music… with my baby. Yep, with my baby. Trashy? Maybe. Considering I live in a small town (and there were no other babies or young kids out) I’m a little surprised that I didn’t get more criticism than just a couple of the expected, “Ha ha, you brought a baby to a bar,” comments, but folks were generally glad to see my kiddo out.
I understand many young and school-aged children have an early bedtime which makes parents hesitant to take them out late. But even so, parents disrupt kids’ sleep to get them up early in the morning for school, church, sports, etc. Why is messing with the nighttime sleep routine so frowned upon? Or maybe it’s not as much as I think it is, but I rarely see young kids out of the house after 8 p.m.
When our son was first born, I read Mei-Ling Hopgood’s How Eskimos Keep Their Babies Warm: And other Adventures in Parenting (from Argentina to Tanzania and Everywhere in Between). The section on Argentine parenting – which pointed out that children often stay out late with their parents at family gatherings and restaurants – was no surprise since my husband I witnessed this phenomenon on our South American and Mexican travels. We saw kids out late all the time. They were totally fine, even the kids in the (somewhat official-looking) parade biking up down a main thoroughfare at 10 p.m. one night in Mexico.
So when it was time for my town’s annual jazz festival, I knew I’d be taking my one year old to some of the evening events. He loves music, plus, his Dad is a musician and I knew the kiddo would get a kick out of seeing his Dad on stage. And he did. He had a great time, loved interacting with the people, seeing the instruments up close, and wasn’t in bed too much later than usual.
The next time you’re wondering to take, or not to take, children out late somewhere, consider the Argentine perspective. I might not be ready for late night children’s bike parades, but will definitely continue to take my kiddo to live concerts, even some late night ones in bars.
Parenting is done differently around the globe and various practices will probably serve as fodder for future posts, but if I’ve piqued your interest in Hopgood’s book you can catch more highlights in this NPR story and this Cracked.com piece. Read the whole book if you have time!
(Also, I definitely just decided to plug the book and links on my own since it’s a topic I’m interested in. No way am I fancy enough (yet?!) to have people approaching me to do reviews.)