Dave Kerr runs The Beaufort, in Carlton. There’s neon, loud music and it stays open late. His wife Lois is a brand ambassador for Sailor Jerry and travels a lot.
In the midst of this is a well-adjusted two year old, Mimi. While she makes (non-alcoholic) concoctions behind the bar, Dave tells us how they’ve managed a functional, if unusual, little family unit.
Broadsheet: What’s Mimi like?
DK: Mimi is simply awesome. Since she was born, we knew that she was going to be cooler than us. She has this presence that makes you think she knows full well just how cool she is. She’s a brat, like any two-and-a-half year old, that has purely irrational tantrums. But she’s incredibly thoughtful, affectionate and adorable.
BS: What is she interested in?
DK: Drawing stuff on ever-increasingly expensive surfaces. She really loves dogs. And babies. I find it so interesting how a child that can’t even spell her name already has this intrinsic maternal instinct.
BS: What’s one of your favourite things to do together?
DK: Although it’s sometimes our least favourite thing, eating out is something that we all do together. When she’s well behaved and she eats well, it’s amazingly rewarding. She’ll eat pretty much anything and she’s an incredible critic, she really tells it how it is. Most places we go the staff knows her, they hang out with her, bring her back to the table. We go to the Lincoln a lot – she walks in and she’s got edamame waiting just for her.
I really want to start a blog with her eating at all of Australia’s two-and-three-hat restaurants. It could be the most honest review of restaurants ever conducted.
BS: What’s something about you that’s changed since being a dad?
DK: I’ve got better perspective. Everything that happens good and bad, now has this natural point of perspective I can relate back to. It allows me to remember that when bad things happen to you, there’s always going to be a kid at the top of the stairs that loves you unconditionally when you walk through the door every night. I know when she turns 14 I’ll have to rethink this answer, but for now I just savour how awesome it is.
BS: How do you make it work: owning a bar and having a young kid?
DK: I have the freedom to pick my hours and I can run home during the day if I have to. Both my parents worked for themselves when I was growing up, and that was hard, so I’m determined to make as much time as possible to hang out with Mimi, even if it isn’t inside traditional hours. It was pretty crazy when she was little and I’d get home from work at 3am and she’d just be waking up. It’s actually a better schedule for having young kids than you’d give it credit for.
BS: How is your social life different?
DK: It’s not really any different. We’re the first parents in our group of mates to have a kid, so we take Mimi everywhere. We take her to mates’ birthdays and people still see her as this kind of cool novelty. Then one of us just takes her home and the other stays out to party.
BS:Do you feel like parenting comes naturally to you, or you’re just learning as you go?
DK: It’s more natural than I thought. The thing you learn is more about controlling yourself. You can’t yell at kids and get angry at them. They’re learning and exploring and they do dumb, annoying shit all the time. You just have to learn to let some stuff slide and enforce the stuff that could kill or hurt them. Running on roads and sticking knives in the toaster spring to mind. I’m also used to dealing with drunk patrons which is more of a warm up for dealing with a toddler than you could imagine.
BS: What’s Mimi’s biggest milestone to date?
DK: I think it’s currently her ability to learn Spanish. Lois speaks to her in Spanish a lot and all of her Dr Seuss books are bilingual. It’s crazy to think that in so many other countries kids grow up with two and three languages, but we place so little importance on it in Australia. She asked me for butter on her toast in Spanish the other day and I thought she was talking nonsense until Lois told me she was just asking me in Spanish. My two-and-a-half year old managed to make me feel intellectually inferior.
BS: What are your Father’s Day plans?
DK: We always host loads of families at the bar for Father’s Day. So I’m going take Mimi down there and serve some tables with her hanging off my leg. It helps the dads remember how awesome their daughters were when they were little and the mums all play with her. I think it’s one of those days when I’m working where I like to break the illusion of the fourth wall and I welcome people into our bar as if it was a family run business, where we all live upstairs or something. I never really called my dad for Father’s Day, because I was a cynical little bastard and thought it was a stupid Hallmark holiday. But now I call him every year and it’s kind of cool for him say “right back at you”.