Should children be seen and not heard?

Let me make a confession.  I have no children of my own.  There are 6 billion people on this planet, so I don’t really feel the need to contribute to efforts to ensure there are future generations.  Maybe I should, as I’m told redheads are dying out.  Egal.  I think I’ll stick to a policy of sex for recreation, rather than procreation.

Why mention that fact?  Probably to pre-empt parents’ comments along the lines of:

If you had children of your own, you’re think and react differently.

Maybe I would, but to those people, I would say, if you had no kids, you’d maybe feel like I do.  A circular argument.

Now, I’m a fairly old-fashioned type.

  • I write in fountain pen in a paper diary.
  • I say please and thank you.
  • When I used to do evening classes, I used to wait at the tram stop with my female classmates until they had boarded their tram to take them home.

I’m old-fashioned in a nice way, not in the sense of yearning for the days of national service, bringing back the birch, going on a waiting list when you wanted a phone line installed, etc.  I still believe in children being well-behaved and properly socialised when they are out and about, such as:

  • in a pub
  • in a restaurant
  • in church
  • on the train

You get the settings that I mean.

What amazes me is the righteous indignation of parents whenever there’s a newspaper story about a cafe/restaurant/pub etc displaying a sign saying,

Extremely well-behaved children most welcome.

The usual response from parents is along the lines of:

  • If you had kids, you’d react more differently.
  • We only eat out once a month, so we don’t have to cook, and it is so hard to find a babysitter.
  • You can always eat in an adults-only pub.
  • You were a kid once.

My response:

  • Oh no, I wouldn’t!  (Well, pantomime season is approaching.)
  • Have you heard of ordering a pizza/Chinese/curry for delivery?  Microwave meals?
  • We adults don’t come and drink fifteen pints and swap mucky jokes in your kids’ local playground.
  • Yes, I was, and my parents would have given me merry hell if I’d gone around screaming, whizzing round the pub, running into people, causing them to spill their drinks

Maybe it’s a British phenomenon?  Parents with a misplaced sense of entitlement, who think that they can

  • Sit in the pub/restaurant/cafe
  • Gossip about last night’s episode of EastEnders or who’s doing what or who
  • Stare out of the window
  • Check their Smartphone emails
  • Swap texts with their mates

while their offspring:

  • Run round the establishment
  • Scream and screech
  • Stamp on strangers’ feet for fun
  • Have food fights
  • Poke, prod or punch their siblings

Cross their parents, dare to interrupt their Smartphone texting and surfing, and incur the wrath of someone who tells you to mind your own business, or that this is a family pub.  (Really?  I thought it was your kids’ personal playpark-cum-creche.  I apologise for my misunderstanding.)

Meanwhile back at the ranch, or rather the Chinese restaurant in Wesel, on the Dutch-German border, Schatz and I were sitting, enjoying a buffet lunch.  Three tables away, a family, mum, dad, two young sons, aged about 7 and 9,  Immaculate behaviour.  A minute later, both boys walked calmly to the ice cream freezer, carefully took the scoop and served themselves, and then closed the lid, then sat down calmly back at their table.  I feel ashamed that I didn’t go up to the parents and praise them for their sons’ behaviour.

“Ah,” I hear you say, “But the Germans are a steely, well-disciplined race.”

True, but I’ve also seen the same excellent behaviour in Italy among the hot-headed Italian families.

Conclusion: British eating places are not a dumping ground for lazy parents’ kids.  If you can’t find a babysitter, then maybe there’s a reason why?

Have a well-behaved day, won’t you!


4 thoughts on “Should children be seen and not heard?

  1. I can’t stand it when parents do watch after their children and have them run around haphazardly. I remember I was on a long flight, 15 hours, and I kept giving the parents dirty stares about their children. It was so annoying. At one part of the flight, the parents put all the kids in the row behind me and they moved over to a empty row and went to sleep. I was like are you kidding me!? Don’t have children if you don’t discipline them. Great post.

  2. I was in Starbucks today. It’s known as a crèche in the UK. A lot of mothers with babies and toddlers meet there. I have children, now grown up, and I was probably classed as overly strict. There was one typical toddler running around with his mother occasionally appeasing the pissed off customers with “Thomas, don’t do that” and nothing else. This is my gripe with a lot of parents today. Well it finally happened. A man walking away from the counter with his coffee ran straight into Thomas as he ran riot. The mother told the man to watch where he was going. We have a generation of kids with no social graces and where everyone but them is to blame.

  3. No such thing as bad dogs, just bad owners. Ditto for parents and kids, I’m afraid. Luckily in DUS you don’t see Starbucks being used as a creche. It seems to be full of studenty types using free wifi and people like me wanting a cheapish coffee with cheapish refills, making diary time. As for Thomas, poor boy, but let’s hope mum has learnt her lesson.

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