Mama Madison: Breastfeeding is a right, not a privilege

It's a matter of educating the public

This week I figured it was my mom-writer duty to publicly share some thoughts on the royal birth. Perhaps I'd offer my two cents on the choice of George as a baby name (which, for me, only conjures up images of either Washington or Costanza). Or perhaps I'd craft a rant on why Kate Middleton's appearing in public with a post-delivery belly is an asinine thing to consider news.

Or else, I thought, I could find a parenting angle in the other big story of the week, Weiner-gate. Composing a post on how Anthony and Huma's child could distance himself from his father's last name (for many obvious reasons) had some appeal. Jordan Zane Abedin actually sounds pretty good. Jordan Danger? Not so much.

But just as I was settling in to write about something hot on the national or international front, the biggest local parenting story in months broke out on the near east side of Madison. And it involved breastfeeding and pizza.

As I'm sure most of you know by know, a scandal of sorts was unleashed on Willy Street last week when the word got out that a woman breastfeeding her child at the newly opened Grampa's Pizzeria was asked by a member of the restaurant's staff to move to an area with no other diners after another patron complained.

The restaurant's owners have since recognized that what they did was wrong, as well as illegal, and promptly threw a free pizza party for moms and kids as an olive branch.

In many ways, the case is closed. And after all the exposure, I'm pretty sure "it's absolutely legal for nursing moms to do so publicly" will forever be a part of Madison-area waitstaff training.

But to me, a key issue still remains. In a Facebook post in response to the controversy, Grandpa's stated, "I also feel it is important to point out that we are a small (40 seat) restaurant geared more towards a date night or a night out with friends venue" (which brings up the question, does every restaurant in town need to be family friendly? No, you can't, and shouldn't ask, a nursing woman to move the meal (both her and her baby's) to another spot once you've seated her. But I do think it's fair for a restaurant to say they'd prefer their clientele to have teeth and to be able to order off the menu themselves.

Last year, I wrote a post on precisely this same topic half in jest, half seriously, recommending that all area restaurants adopt a ratings code, similar to that of the movies, which would guide patrons on how kid-appropriate a particular dining establishment might be.

As I say in the column, I am usually all about child inclusiveness and am absolutely fine with kids kicking the back of my seat on an airplane or crying in a religious service. But when my husband and I plan a night out at certain type of restaurant (and maybe Grampa's might be one of them; I haven't eaten there yet) I am usually there to escape my kids. And no matter how well behaved the baby, preschooler or toddler sitting next to me might be, he or she would most certainly take me out of a romantic frame of mind.

I have to say, the name Grampa's Pizzeria sounds pretty darn homey and family-oriented. I don't blame the stroller set for entering the establishment expecting high chairs and crayons and being disappointed if the place doesn't have them.

But if the proprietors want to keep a swank, sophisticated vibe, I all right with that, too. Which is, of course, easy for me to say because I haven't had to share my dinner with a nursing child (that belonged to me) in over eight years.

So I'm interested in what you all think. Do you like the idea of having a place to dine out where you are guaranteed a kid-fee experience? Or do you find it a turn-off if a restaurarnt isn't openly welcome to the littlest foodies?

And just so I haven't completely ignored writing about the newest British monarch, according to reports he's being breastfed. But I don't think the Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George will ever need to worry about being asked to move when enjoying high tea at The Savoy.

The rules are always different for royalty.

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