It’s a typical post-Saint Patrick’s Day pub scene in Portland: the Dropkick Murphy’s play on the loudspeakers as friends gather around whisky barrel style tables, sipping craft beer and cocktails, and chatting about their weekends. There is one detail, however, that makes this event decidedly different from any of the pub events that I have previously attended: at least a third of the patrons are under the age of three. Clad in various shades of green in honor of today’s Saint Patrick’s Day theme, the little leprechauns and four-leaf clovers are at the center of nearly every conversation at the Little Tap House’s monthly Bring Your Own Baby meet up event for parents, which has been held monthly since 2014.
“I thought there would be more crying babies,” one of the customers commented over the head of his sleepy six-week-old. I was equally surprised at the tear-free nature of the room. Some babies snooze on their baby-wearing parents; others study their surroundings surreptitiously, specifically their smaller neighbors; and still others lead their parents adventurously around the space.
Like their children, the parents also seem to be relaxed and enjoying themselves – there isn’t that overwhelming pressure that we usually feel to keep our kids quiet and contained when in a restaurant. If a child has a tantrum, a helping hand will likely be offered, instead of a horrified glance.
Owner and event mastermind, Brianna Jaro, commented that she created the event so parents would have an opportunity to be “stress-free [in a public setting] because they’re in a non-judgmental environment with others going through the same experience.” She added that “the babies feel that ease from their parents and just enjoy the sights and sounds around them!”
So, when my precocious eleven-month-old daughter began wiggling incessantly to get down and explore, I felt comfortable allowing her to inspect all of the new sights and sounds that have intrigued her as I followed closely at her heels. During our “pub tour,” we stopped frequently, so she can baby gaze while I engaged with the other parents. I discussed my love of outdoor sports with a couple with a six-month-old boy by the bar, my daughter’s NICU experience with a family at an adjacent table, and the challenges of breastfeeding with the mother of the six-week-old across from me.
Lubricated by a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a beer as well as the commonality of being a new parent, the conversation flowed easily; and I found myself having more fun than I expected. As such, I was sad to take my last sip of my delectable grapefruit mimosa at the end of the gathering and bid my neighbors ado until next month.
I’ve already added next month’s Lil Peeper themed bash to my calendar, which will be held on April 16th from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m; so I can enjoy the five dollar Peeper Ale special courtesy of the Maine Beer Company and show off my little lady’s adorable Easter attire. If you enjoy adult-beverages, babies, and child-themed banter, you should, too! For more updates on this event and other, follow the Little Tap House’s Facebook page.