Monday, January 22, 2007

Raymond's Bakery Part II: Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind

I am so amazed by the number of angry responses to my previous post, that I feel obliged to take this subject up again. Apparently, I've sown the wind & am now reaping the proverbial whirlwind (roughly paraphrased from Hebrews: Hosea: 8:7). At the very least, I seem to have hit a raw nerve with some people in this community. Um .... assuming most of the folks commenting do actually live, work, or have other interests in the Russian River.

For better or worse, big changes are definitely afoot around here -- especially in the proliferation-of-children department. After years of dwindling student enrollment in many of the schools around here, a sizeable bumper-crop of babies, toddlers & preschoolers seems to sprouting up all of the sudden. The majority of people I've encountered in business & personal situations truly seem to enjoy children & spoil my almost 5-year-old daughter rotten in myriad ways despite my protests. Though of course, we are normally only out & about during the day until around 5 or 6PM & rarely encounter what I have begun to call the "child-free-zone-of-consenting-adults."

It is inevitable that this change in local demographics may not appeal to some folks who were -- in part -- attracted to this area for its bucolic quietude & orientation towards adults in recent years. The sudden abundance of crowing babies, staggering toddlers, & imperious preschoolers may prove to be a rude awakening for a lot of people. Perhaps this is why my last post has received so many flames.

I like to think that the bevy of hostile comments in response to my last post come from a bunch of isolated, freakish cranks. Alas, I cannot treat such vociferous & strongly-stated opinions in such a summarily dismissive fashion. Perhaps the flames reveal some deep, underlying fear about the future of this community on the part of some folks. I fervently want to get to the bottom of this so we can all talk things out & work together in a more constructive fashion.

Perhaps the rapidly-increasing number of families with children strikes some people as a harbinger of things to come -- which may look like Sebastopol does now. To this, I respond, "Ugh." and "Double-Ugh." If we wanted to live in Sebastopol, we would have moved to Sebastopol. Of course I would love to see sidewalks, maintenance of playgrounds, a new skateboard park so our teens & tweens have a place to hang out, & other improvements which would make the area safer & more pleasant for kids & their parents. These things would also help promote tourism since many hotels & vacation rentals are located in areas which could use these improvements.

I also freely confess to the dollar signs flashing in my eyes in response to visions of available redevelopment funds & children happily cavorting about. But I also love this place exactly the way it is. If push comes to shove, I would rather do without so-called improvements than settle for projects which do not serve us well or reflect the natural beauty & creative vibrancy of our uniquely fabulous & eclectic community.

Only here could we have a parade for the winter holidays in which the local Boy Scout troop whizzes by on jazzed-up bicycles; followed by the wildly decadent, glamorous, & transvestite Russian River Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence with sparkling costumes & candy for the kiddies (please note: the Sisters raise huge amounts of funds for local charities & organizations & they also totally rock) & then followed by a spectacularly-choreographed marching band from Vertical Call -- a local church which has splintered off from the Assembly of God because they embrace what has been described to me as a more vivid, personal, & radical form of love, faith & redemption.

We are so danged lucky to have such a diverse, caring, & tolerant community. I don't want for us to become Sebastopol or Mill Valley Lite. I just want for us to continue along our creative, diverse, happy-go-lucky path & do my teensy little part in helping us find a way to work together effectively towards our common goals.

But ... back to my follow-up on my recent post on Raymond's Bakery:

Please know that I love Raymond's Bakery & adore their breads, scones, & other delectable treats. I'm grateful to them for hosting a weekly pizza night & did not mean to give the impression that I am faulting this wonderful establishment on the basis of its sheer popularity. I'm glad that they're so successful. They deserve it.

I also tried hard to see things from the perspective of the large, child-free party with the big table & empathize with them even though I did feel rather frustrated when I wrote my last piece.

But when I read "Tigress's" comment asking me whether I've ever heard of the concept of hiring a babysitter, I laughed so hard I almost keeled over. We live in a fairly remote rural area & there simply aren't many babysitters. The few trustworthy ones who exist around here are only discovered by word of mouth & are very busy.

Actually, we do sometimes hire babysitters, but -- what so many people don't seem to get is that -- sometimes parents actually WANT to go out for dinner WITH their children. In a restaurant that's fun for both adults AND children & which has good food. I mean, do you really want to live in a future populated by young adults whose parents have never taken them anywhere to eat, except for McDonald's & Chucky Cheese for their entire childhoods?

I think it's really sad that our society harbors such a high degree of hostility towards children. I know they can be noisy & obstreperous sometimes. But they're also charming, creative, loving, playful, funny & just plain fun. Without children, the world would be an awfully bleak & hopeless place. In any case, you child-free folks should feel relieved that some people still choose to have children. After all, SOMEONE's got to join the workforce 20 years from now & pay taxes to cover your social security check when you get old.

What utterly astonishes me the most is how my first "Raymond's Bakery" article has drawn several outraged comments, while my discussions about the recent RRROC meeting concerning redevelopment along the Russian River -- which involves billions of dollars collected from residents, businesses & visitors via various taxes over the years & can have immense, long-ranging effects on our community & general quality of life -- have received no response at all!

Though I also feel obliged to confess that part of me feels highly gratified to discover that people are actually reading my blog. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, guys.

Nighty noodles & sweet dreams, everyone.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if perhaps the comments perceived as "angry", may have been so in response to your original post that came across as very "exasperated"? Certainly, the tone was that you felt these "child-free people" were taking up space that you should have had! What makes one person's custom in an establishment more valid than anothers? I suspect the comments were merely reactions to that underlying theme of hostility. Obviously, it's your blog, and you can say what you like. However, people may well respond in light of their own perceptions on your overall "tone", as many do on the internet.

That said, I can understand you would value a night that was specifically aimed at parents and children for eating out. Do you know for sure the table was "childfree" (as in a No Kidding group) or simply a work get-together sans children? In any public setting, people of differing backgrounds will gather, and hopefully co-exist without too much treading on toes.

I am truly interested in clarification of the issues mentioned, and hope you will respond. Thanks. Jen.

Anonymous said...

Nighty noodles & sweet dreams, everyone.

I love how mommies think everyone needs to be talked to like a three year old.

By the way, the Social Security line is getting really, really old. Out of curiosity, if more women are staying home to raise children, does that mean that SAHMs are taking money from senior citizens now, since they're not actually putting anything into the system?

Anonymous said...

Again, to clarify your words:

After all, SOMEONE's got to join the workforce 20 years from now & pay taxes to cover your social security check when you get old.

I guess it isn't you, is it? Your parents must be very sad that you're not contributing to their retirement after they spent all that money raising and educating you. Instead, you stay at home and muse about your discontent with people eating dinner in your presence who have the nerve to not have any children with them!

Gotta love the mommy-bloggers. They always make my life seem so much more, oh, what's the word, sane.

PleaseElise said...

Actually, I think that people with children ought to be relieved that we childfree are around--afterall, we don't get the tax breaks you guys do, so we end up paying for the schools your kids use, the state colleges they might attend, parks and rec activities in which they might participate...the list goes on and on. Given how paltry Social Security has become, it looks like your kids owe US and not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

you would have a LOT less "angry" comments if your original post would not have come off as advocating a Jim Crow type system for the Child Free.
While you think you were trying to be empathetic towards that segment of society you actually came off as being upset that folks with out kids where in a child friendly place, and as thinking they should stick to the mythic myriad of "Child Free" one who has extensive experiance in the hopsitality industry, including a family owned four star restaurant- there ain't no such animal.
And if the Child Free or the restaurant owners, dared suggested that kids not be brought to all and sundry there would be a hell storm to contend with.
You brought the "anger" on yourself with your suggestions that there should be places that the Childfree, not go...perhaps you should look at your entitlement mindset rather than other people's anger.

jillybean said...

Dear anonymous -- you seem like you really have an ax to grind. maybe you should start your own freaking blog

Richard said...

My first thought is that people tend to divide into two warring camps - childless couples and couples with children. Once a childless couple crosses over to The Other Side, they start to understand how difficult it is to deal with things that they once took for granted. For instance - the simple act of eating out. Unfortunately, those who remain in the childless urbane state

In our little pocket of the world, we really don't have a lot of explicitly child-friendly places to eat. They tend to break down into three categories: 1) expensive, high-end places like Applewood, Mosaic and the Farmhouse, where little children really aren't a good idea; 2) gut-busting places like Pat's about which the less said the better (although children fit in well there); and 3) a few burger joints and diners that are uneven in quality but at least are doable. The last category is pretty thin - River Inn Grill, Andorno's (yugh) and the estimable Mexican place next to FernGrove.

Being that we used to eat out every night as a childless couple in the City, it took some getting used to having very limited options once we moved out of the City and had kids. We also found ourselves realizing what sh*ts we were towards young parents on the rare occasions that we encountered them in our urbane habitat. Now, the last thing we want to do is impose our children on people who want to relax and eat a pleasurable meal in the wine country. OTOH, in an isolated place like Raymond's that is clearly set up to cater to local parents, a party of 12 or 14 childless people monopolizing the place is flat-out inconsiderate.

So I find some of the comments here somewhat lacking in empathy for moms who face de facto attempts to marginalize them from normal social discourse. At Raymond's (which I will happily visit again, in the hope this scenario won't be re-enacted) I noticed several of the people at this large consolidated table giving the parents dirty can't-you-control-your-damn-kid looks even though the place was obviously set up for kids. (This is what we used to do, by the way.) Personally, I think large parties like that should call ahead so that equitable arrangements can be made. Rrrattina is right. There aren't many places that make much of an effort to help parents out.

America is not a child-friendly country. This syndrome of excluding mothers and small children permeates both the Left and the Right ideological extremes in this country - on the Left with the usual "breeder" rhetoric, and on the Right with the "root hog or die" attitude: Moms should stay at home, but the cost of living is so high and very little help is proffered and that begrudgingly--and frankly, both sides tend to sound a lot like the other in their intolerance and quickness to take offense. Visit Europe to see how people handle this issue rationally.

Bravewolf said...

Okay, lets recap. You posted about how you were angry that there was an alleged childfree group (I'm assuming you don't know them and are not speaking from first-hand knowledge) who, by virtue of their numbers were interfering with your dining experience. Your solution to this was that the childfree should avoid patronizing a restaurant that caters to children as well as adults.

Are you surprised that people would disagree with you? I might add, why are dissenting opinions labelled "bitter"? Are we all bitter, dried up shadow people because we don't have children or because we think that avoiding restaurants with kids menus is not our obligation?

Richard said...

Forgot to finish my first pgh... "Those who remain in the childless urbane state tend to get defensive about their prerogatives. When I was single and all my friends were married with kids, it was a tough scene for me." That's what I meant to say.

Jen's point is well taken. We are pretty sure it was, to answer your question. Thank you for your reasoned response.

I note other ANONYMOUS posters are still getting their panties in a wad. If you want to get so aggro about your comments, how about standing by them by using your name?

Or, better yet, smoke a doob and chill out already. Isn't that what people are supposed do around here?

We are all basically on the same side, after all.

auronsgirl said...

OTOH, in an isolated place like Raymond's that is clearly set up to cater to local parents, a party of 12 or 14 childless people monopolizing the place is flat-out inconsiderate.

How, exactly, is this inconsiderate? Did the horrible (ASSumed) childfree people stampede, smash the kind, considerate parents to the ground, upset the children and take the biggest table in the room? Is that what went down? Or, was it that they were there first?
From the gist of the original post, the group was there first. So, that means that not getting your way is inconsiderate, even after the fact? Good to know. I doubt it would've worked the same in reverse, to be honest.

And you wonder why people are reacting negatively? You wonder why there's anger against parents? Take a good look in the mirror, bucko. Oh, and save the "I've seen the light and its name is children!" crap for another day. You're not suddenly amazingly wise, wonderful and progressive because you managed to pop out a few kids. While we're on the subject, save the "Oh, woes, this country doesn't care about the children!" crap too. On any hot-button matter, the kid card is going to be played. The fact that not everyone kneels down to kiss your dick or your uterus for producing The Next Generation™ doesn't mean that childed people are marginalized. Because you're not.

It seems that many parents expect far too much and give way too little, and it's a situation that plays out over and over again, in the workplace and in society.
This is just another case in point. Hipmama Blogger didn't want to be "stressed" or "uncomfortable" controlling her child. She wanted to be next to the toy box. SHE WANTED TO BE NEXT TO THE TOY BOX!!!!!!! When a two-year-old does that, we call it a tantrum. When an adult does it, we call it pathetic. Because, quite frankly, it is.

Marie said...

Hi Richard. My name is Marie and I'm one of the anonymous commenters. But I'm not smoking a doob. Is that what blogging parents do these days when they're not trying to throw out large groups of people they deem inconsiderate because they happen do be dining without having a crayon shoved up their nose?

Russian River Rattina said...

In response to people's comments...

To Jen: I appreciate your courtesy & asking for clarification. I didn't mean to sound insensitive towards people who don't have children or like the large table of patrons shouldn't have been there. But I DO think it's rather rude for people to go to a restaurant that is clearly set up for families with children & to then give these families dirty looks & make them feel bad. That would be like me going to a biker bar & giving patrons dirty looks as they come & go in the parking lot because their Harley's are too noisy. Raymond's only does Pizza night once a week, as far as I know. The owners have a toddler whose young friends often come with their parents. The weekly "pizza night" happening has been enthusiastically recommended by several parents I know, so the experience was rather disappointing for us. I was trying to express this disappointment while also trying NOT to blame anyone. But I apparently managed to offend a lot of people. Sigh. Um ... something about the way your comment was worded also reminds me of one of my favorite neighbors who has the same name as you ... do you live in Rio Nido?

To Richard: Thanks for your support.

To Sauron's Girl ... oops, I mean auronsgirl: My, your word-choices are often so, um, pungent. Actually, we DID get to be next to the toy box (neener-neener-neener) ... but some people who needed to be weren't & I feel that made things harder for the kids & parents & contributed to the dynamics of the room & the fact that the kids were all over the place annoying people instead of being clustered by the toy box as would have been best for every one. As for parents who "expect far too much and give way too little," that's not at all true. In fact, having children often inspires people to be more compassionate & more involved in their communities

To the folks at Raymond's: if the opinions being stated here truly reflect those of your desired clientele &/or sufficient numbers of potential patrons, then perhaps you need to (alas) rethink the toy box, play area & kid thang. We think you're the bee's knee's, want you to continue being successful, & really appreciate your hosting this special Friday evening event. But my last posting seems to have touched upon a raw nerve in this community & you could be losing customers. So sorry.

To Everyone Else: We generally try to do a good job with teaching our 4-year-old daughter good manners, ensuring that she behaves appropriately in public places, & avoiding situations that would make things unpleasant for anyone (including our daughter & ourselves). Alas, by the time we realized things weren't working out, it was too late to cancel our orders & go elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Jen here again. Thanks for your response (both Richard and RRR). The analogy of a biker bar and the "looks" being given helps clarify the situation. I guess when it comes down to it, we all tend to want our own scenario to be the preferred one, even when sharing public space with others of differing persuasion.

Actually, I'm not even in the USA - I'm an Aussie! Sounds like the pizza nights are wildly popular with everyone. I wonder if management may consider expanding them to a couple of nights a week? May be worth exploring if the restaurant is so busy on that particular night to the exclusion of others.

Marie said...

Ratina said:
But I DO think it's rather rude for people to go to a restaurant that is clearly set up for families with children & to then give these families dirty looks & make them feel bad.

You STILL do not get it, do you SAHMoo? You NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER EVER said in your original blog post that these poor, child-free/childless people were giving you dirty looks. You even went on to say that you felt badly for them because they thought they would have a nice pizza and a glass of wine but instead were treated to a bunch of kids fighting over a germ-covered Tickle Me Elmo (okay, I made the TME part up).

Your child is going to be really interesting to teach in a couple of years. She's most likely already learning how to packpedal from her parents. That is, if you don't decide to home-teach. I'd advise against it.

But I'm glad you clarified that you did get to sit by the toy box. Neener-neener-neener. If something as simple as sitting next to a toy box makes you happy, it gives me satisfaction to know that I was right. America really is dumbing down at an alarming rate. Neener-neener-neener.

BTW, the next time you go out and about in your rural community you care so much about to the point you've made it the focus of your blog, do a little networking as to who has a teenage son or daughter that can use a few extra dollars. You'd be surprised how less brutal the sex will be when you come home from a non-child burdened night on the town. It hopefully will be at least less brutal than back-in-the-day when you were childless and trying to get pregnant.

sarah said...

I believe RRR's ire should be directed at the restaurant for having the audacity to seat a large party of non-child-burdened adults over preserving the separate tables for a multitide of families on their apparently Sacred Famblee Pizza Outing Night.

However, the restaurant industry is about making MONEY, and the establishment's owners/managers probably saw an opportunity to sell a lot of food and wine (wine being the operative word) to a large party of adults. So they chose to do that instead of sell a bunch of families with kids a few pitchers of cheap soda, half of which the brats would probably end up spilling all over the place.

satire said...

Being a person who lives in Cazadero part time, I know that the community as a whole is mighty accepting of different opinions and such. But don't go rubbing their face in any of your shit. So I suspect if you did in fact get dirty looks for having a loud kid, it wasn't from a native. Those who know and love Raymonds realize that it's a family friendly place. Very much so. Therefore, don't give it another thought. As I said before, I'm no fan of loud kids so I get my pizza to go. Good advice for those who prefer to complain over something they cannot change.

Oh, and shameless plug for Mark & Elizabeth. They are now back to normal winter hours. Thursday, Friday & Saturday 8am to 6pm with Pizza Night on Friday starting at 4:30ish and going to at least 9PM. And try the Wild Hog Pinot Noir. Yummy.

Sundays are 8am to 3pm. Best to get there before church lets out. All the good stuff goes quickly once the church folk make their way down the road.