Taking the Kids to the Bar

The Cardinal Bar - booze, buses and blacktop, yet somehow also a child's dream come true. Source: Google Maps

As a one-car family we make certain sacrifices. Now, wait. I take that back. That’s the ‘glass half-empty’ way of putting it. Let’s try this one on: As a one-car family we get to have some totally off-the-hook public transportation adventures that less fortunate multi-car families will never have. Yes. Much better.

So there’s four of us, and only one automobile. It usually works out fine. But then there are days when we all have to pile in the car bright and early, drive to Mom’s office to drop her off, go to an appointment of some sort, drive the car back to Mom’s office to drop it off for her use, and then find our own way home. Finding our own way home goes like this:

walking…waiting…TRAIN…waiting… still waiting…. I can’t believe we’re still waiting… BUS… walking home.

Now let’s face it. Bear, Bean and I really have nowhere to go. A little waiting and walking is not going to kill us. But it could very well bring on some good old-fashioned hypothermia on wintry days like the day of our recent adventure. So what is my crew to do when it finds itself quickly morphing from flesh to ice at 38th Street Station in South Minneapolis in the ‘I can’t believe we’re still waiting’ leg of the trip home? Why, head to the bar, of course!

What are the three of us going to do at a bar, you might ask? Yeah, I hear you. It’s 10:00 am on a Tuesday. Our average age is 13. Our median age is 3. Doesn’t exactly feel like a bar situation, I agree. But it’s right there. It’s open. It’s the Cardinal Bar and Restaurant.

The Cardinal is a pretty gritty place. It sits directly at the intersection of two loud and busy thoroughfares and the light rail line. Towering concrete grain elevators loom overhead. Dark and windowless, its dungeon-like vibe emits from every corner. Everything about the experience of walking through its front doors with my kids felt wrong to me. But let me tell you, the Cardinal came through.

As soon as we sat down in the nearly empty dining area, a waitress appeared. Without being asked, she changed the channel on the overhead TV from The Price is Right (which actually was quite mesmerizing for the kids) to Nickelodeon. She brought over a stack of kids books, activities, and crayons. Within minutes, there were french fries and glasses of milk… with straws! Moments later, another waitress appeared and presented some leftover Halloween candy to my kids. What?! Crayons, fries, straws, candy, and an episode of something apparently called Umizoomi… Bear and Bean were absolutely paralyzed by the multitude of amazing options at their disposal. To take part in even just one of these activities on a typical day would be beyond fantastic. And now, it had all materialized before them at once, just moments after frostbite had begun to set in while waiting for the 23. Sweet glorious day!

Not surprisingly, the kids mostly just stuck with the TV show, diverting their attention at brief occasional moments to nibble some candy. The Umizoomi effect was quite strong. Nothing could break the spell. At one point, a loud out-of-town drunk fellow began cursing at the barmaids about how awful they were for not giving him any money and how much better Milwaukee is than Minneapolis (which, BTW, really?!). Bear and Bean didn’t give that S.O.B. so much as a sideways glance.

However, as Umizoomi transitioned to Sponge Bob, I realized it was time to make our way out to catch the 11:08. Thankfully, the promise of a bus ride was enough to entice the children out of their newfound wonderland. Well done, Cardinal Bar. Well done.

About dadbloggit

I'm an architect-turned-stay-at-home-dad to three little daughters. Being an architect was hard. Being a full-time parent is RIDICULOUSLY hard. And equally as rewarding. Dadbloggit is a record of this journey.
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5 Responses to Taking the Kids to the Bar

  1. Awesome, truly awesome what can happen when a parent has an open mind.

  2. Beth says:

    My daughter also loves Team Umizoomi. I like it because it focuses on math. It is the Frosted Shredded Wheats of Nick Jr.
    I also wanted to let you know that I have presented you with The Liebster Award for blogging since I very much enjoy reading your blog. You can find out more info on it at my blog. Hope you have a great day!

  3. Miriam Burt says:

    I love to see parents taking the bus and metro (train) with their kids. I didn’t have a car here in DC until Anya was 11.She learned her colors in the back of the L2 bus (sitting there because no food allowed on public transport, technically): I’d ask her the color of a skittle and when she named it she’d get it. People would often talk to us and usually get up to let us sit down. We met another mother with her daughter on the old L2 and for a few years engaged in play dates for both of us moms and kids. It does take an open mind and a willingness to well, yes, wait a bit, but it was good, I think. Anya learned to stay close to me in public and as a teen was confident well before many of her peers taking buses and metros all over the place. On the metro she would just duck under the fare gate to get in. (It was legal, she was under 6 years old). Yay for public transportation!
    (Great Aunt!) Miiram

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