In 2017, my husband and I went to brunch in Paris and our minds were blown. They went way beyond a petit dejeuner of the usual kind for France, with tables upon tables of all and any of the food choices you could ever want. The space was beautiful and had three areas, including as you went in to the right up a couple of stairs, an entire play area full of tiny tables, mini-size kitchens, toys, arts and crafts and kiddos running around with activity leaders ready to play. Downstairs was the buffet with opulent chairs and tables and beautifully prepared foods of all types where you could go back for forths and fifths.
In La Cruz de Huanacatle, where we spent the beginning of 2021, we had Tacos on the Street with a play space and a tiny house full of toys and activities. Antonio’s BBQ on Saturday and Sunday had a trampoline and toys. In Todos Santos, we found a restaurant with an entire playground, a swing and a tiny kitchen to play. Bean was served first at this place, as in Mexico they celebrate their youth by honoring them and making sure they feel seen and heard.
Yesterday we went to Love Supreme in Austin, Texas. There my daughter found a ‘toy’ in the small fountain at the entrance and was spraying people as they walked in. She was able to play for a while until they turned it off. We sat across from a family of three with a 17 month old on his first restaurant outing. They were nervous and anxious about the whole event, worried that he would be too loud and quickly left after downing their food in record speed. I ran into an old neighbor and his family, so Micah quickly found a friend to run back and forth with. Another family came in and she joined their kiddos in pillow fighting with their dad from the sofa area in the outside space. They were the most laid back, saying “oh she can stay and play with us, while you eat” I love this type of reception and normally, I would happily accept, but we were on our way out so I scooped her and left as swiftly as the other family as she kicked and screamed the way to the car.
Life with kiddos has become more challenging when going out into the world. Before 2020, I was used to seeing kids roam, explore, touch everything, run everywhere. You know, be kids. Any outing is always a stimulus overload and they’re constantly taking in new people, events, experiences and anything else placed in their way. Now, at least as a mama, I’m on edge, worrying about the mess they’ll make, the people they’ll upset, the radius they’ll take up. You know, the ‘people pleasing’ part of the human experience that I’m working on shedding and doing so quickly.
For my husbands birthday, we walked to a sushi place close to our airbnb in San Jose de Cabo. There was definitely not a play space for her in this minimally decorated restaurant. My daughter shoveled in rice and tempura as most of it fell on the floor. I apologized to the waiter a few times and finally he came over and said “Its fine, we’re used to it, we’ll clean it up, she’s a child, let her be”
And so I exhaled and ended up having the most relaxing and delicious eating experience of my life as a mama.
It’s sort of sad we need permission to let our kids be kids. It’s devastating actually. I read something last night about ‘quieter’ doesn’t mean ‘better’. Their voice is used to clearly tell us that there is some kind of need. If we repeatedly ignore or stop responding, they learn to express less and be ‘quieter’. Same with sitting in place and being a ‘good kid’.
All I wanted to do was scoop the mamas around me yesterday and say ‘lets get investors to start restaurants where we can all just breathe and play and be ourselves’
That’s what the world is moving towards. An inclusive one that includes all ages in addition to all of what we’re fighting for today.
That’s my vision. A space and place that feels like you can be fully and totally yourself and your kiddos can too. Messy, loud, rambunctious, funny, expressive and truly human.
Thank you for reading.