This column was originally published in Practical Parenting Magazine, November 2012
A long time ago, Keith and I got kicked out of a nightclub to which we had inadvertently taken our newborn baby. It sounds like something you would only do once, but recently, we sort of did it again. We took all three kids to a late-night music concert. By accident.
On the whole, we don’t like leaving the house, but the Holly Throsby kids show sounded like a fun family night out. We love her CD. Unfortunately, this show wasn’t for kids. Nope, it was an adult gig, in a drafty hall, featuring two interminable support acts and uncomfortable chairs. You might imagine that by ten pm our three kids under six were getting a little ratty.
I had stuffed up, big time. We really had to exit, but even then, Keith and I pushed things just one step too far. ‘Two more songs?’ we mouthed to each other. During the next number things were going beautifully. The baby was asleep in my arms, the sweet faces of the big two gazed at the stage as they curled up against their dad, and people in surrounding rows were glancing and smiling at us. I felt like a total funky hipster mama. But we were on borrowed time. As the notes for the second song began, it all fell apart dramatically.
‘I – haffa -go-hoooome!’ said three-year-old T-Bone suddenly, and burst into noisy tears. He woke the baby, who started to cry too. Keith and I looked at each other in horror and quickly started to gather our obscene pile of possessions – slings, nappy bags, snack packs, handbags, hats, and jackets, while the wailing rose in pitch and volume. Eventually Holly Throsby had to stop the show. She made a few gentle jokes, and the whole audience watched as we wrangled our weeping, stumbling pile of children down the aisle.
‘Worst parents ever,’ I joked weakly in apology. ’Coolest parents ever!’ shouted one kind and deluded bastard down the back. Thanks, buddy, I thought. I’ll hold that close to my heart tomorrow as I fold washing and listen to Radio National in my fluffy bed socks.
And then, there was the incident of the baby in the nightclub. When our eldest daughter Peanut was born, she preferred screaming over sleep. Breastfeeding was difficult to establish, and the whole experience was a massive shock. When Peanut was three weeks old, my best friend had a dinner for her birthday. Keith and I decided it was time to discard our stained tracksuit pants, and take the baby on her first night out.
Unfortunately, the restaurant turned out to be a cocktail bar in Kings Cross.
After parking, we had to walk the main strip with tiny Peanut clutched to Keith’s shoulder. Strip club bouncers heckled us as we passed, and things went from bad to worse when we found the bar and went inside to tell my friend Lucy that we couldn’t stay. The bouncer followed us in and tapped me on the shoulder. ‘You can’t have that baby in here,’ he said slowly, looking carefully into my eyes as though he was talking to a psychiatric patient. ‘Yes, yes, of course,’ I said, ashamed. We retraced our steps, back past the hookers and the winos and the bikers, home to the lounge room, where we put our tracksuit pants back on, ate a pizza and toasted our tiny daughter, who had just gotten kicked out of her first nightclub. I only hope it’s not a portent of the future.