Before we get going, I will start off by stating categorically that I actually like children and I don’t blame them for any of this. No, it’s the parents I hold responsible. The parents who want to have it all. They want to have children but then they don’t see why their lives should change to accommodate them. And so they proceed to tote them around like accessories, ruining things for other people, namely me.
The writing has been on the wall for a long time. For years people have been banging on about how they have it right on the continent. Pointing to countries like Italy and Spain, waxing lyrical about how they don’t have the same social problems that we have to contend with. Primarily because they are so family centred with children at the heart of society. Well I don’t know what children on the continent are like, I have never met any, but in my opinion we are in the process of breeding a society of over-indulged, demanding brats.
The final nail in the coffin, as far as I’m concerned, was the ban on smoking in public places. Now, I don’t smoke but give me the choice of playing Russian roulette with my lungs or enduring rampaging toddlers and screaming infants then, for me, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. This was the reality for a number of years when I wasn’t alone in opting for smoking environments purely because it ensured families were kept at bay. The government stepped in though and now nowhere is safe.
I realise that I probably sound like a curmudgeon but, my point is this, I don’t think some places are appropriate environments for children. However, the reign of parent power is so fixed that nobody dare even raise so much as an eyebrow when small children are let loose in bars and cafes. Instead, we endure the chasing around, the screams and the tantrums because to criticise them would be to incur the wrath of the ogre that is parent power.
To be fair, I know not all parents are like this. I have lots of friends who are very sensible parents, some of whom even agree with my viewpoint, whilst others have morphed into the very parents who make my heart sink. When I arranged with one such friend to visit a gallery recently, she brought along her two year old son. I’m no expert, but I would hazard a guess that not even a child genius could be expected to appreciate the finer points of abstract art at the age of two. Consequently, he ruined the experience for everyone else whilst my friend smiled on, seemingly oblivious to the fact that lots of people wanted to throttle her child.
I recently went out for drinks, in a bar that to all intents and purposes should be an adult environment. Therefore, when a friend turned up with her small daughter in tow, my gin and tonic suddenly lost its appeal. What fun is there in having to police your
language and avoid contentious topics? At the point where people were spelling out more ribald vocabulary, a couple of us made our excuses and ran for the seediest bar we could find. One so rough, no self-respecting parent would dare to try and bring a child and, if they did, the clientele didn’t look above telling them what they could with their little bundle of joy.
I believe the whole issue stems from a misguided notion of power. Parent power, girl power, consumer power, patient power. Where did this sense of hollow power come from? It’s completely meaningless. If I ever get anything wrong with me, what good would patient power do me when I have no medical knowledge at all? I would much rather have a properly funded medical profession, who are allowed to do their jobs, without being straitjacketed and constantly looking over their shoulders, checking for the various patient lobby groups who might want to take them to task.
The same could be said for schools; surely it’s in the interests of the child to leave their education to experts. Instead of the current environment where teachers are being deskilled because the focus of what they are expected to do has been so radically skewed. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had to sit through meetings with parents as they have informed me that I have a personality clash with their child. How in God’s name is that even possible? I was under the illusion that I was there to educate not to socialise but it would seem that this is no longer the case. At least not according to some parents anyway, who assert that I should be all things to every child. I’ll let you into a secret though, if you ever feel inclined to complain, don’t fool yourself that you are getting your child a better education. You are merely ensuring that the teacher will avoid your kid like the plague and focus instead on the ones with whom they don’t clash.
Anyway that’s it my rant’s over. I just hope nobody reports me to mumsnet because those mothers would probably hunt me down with more tenacity than Simon Wiesenthal. This is the reality that we are faced with when everything must be family friendly and woe betide anybody who might dare to suggest otherwise.