Ooh now this is an interesting one isn't it? What with the recent furore of the breastfeeding mum being asked to cover up in a restaurant, it's a little passée to want an area of just grown ups isn't it?
Mmmm...yes..no...maybe, ah hell I don't know. This is one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't topics isn't it?
Lookit, I have been that breastfeeding mum. I am also, occasionally, the parent shushing my children, whilst they declare our family's dirty laundry at the top of the voices in the supermarket. But I have also been that woman getting a rare lunchtime coffee or an early dinner with a friend, and have felt a little exasperated at OPK (other people's kids) creating a hullabaloo when mine are safely whipping up a storm at home.
Now I know what that sounds like... oh so because you're lucky enough to have a babysitter / partner / older kids it's ok for you, but what about people who don't have that option. Not really though, coz once any of my brood got to the stage where they were unpredictable I stopped going to places where I thought it might be a problem. Restaurants, and the like. There are so many child-friendly places, that I don't see why I would take them to a quiet cafe, or bistro; not when they can eat their fill in a Wacky Warehouse or Giraffe. However, there is an issue here as it only seems to be eating places that people get a little narky about OPK. Holidaying in Greece back in 2006, when BigL was only one, the evenings and the restaurants were chocked full of families. Town squares provided ride ons outside street cafes so you could eat whilst sproglets burnt off the afternoon siesta on a play motorbike. Bonus!
Is our problem that we just want rid of our kids? Or have we not spent enough time teaching them how to behave in public situations?
Are there complaints about children in shopping centres, museums, libraries, cinemas? And how does this actually work? Do we hark back to the days of apartheid and see signs banning sections of our community? And what will be the upshot of this, if children are not brought into these spaces as they are growing up, where will they learn etiquette for when they are deemed entrance into these 'adult only spaces?
A night out last year, with my teaching colleagues, in an Italian restaurant - there was a large table of teenagers, out celebrating a birthday. They were a little loud; excited and happy at the reaction of their surprised friend who had just arrived. But our meal wasn't disturbed, as on the approach to the Christmas hols, the restaurant was a little more raucous than usual. They settled down, paid up, and went on their merry teenage way. Cut to another night out, having a quiet dinner with a friend and another birthday table with predominately older clientèle. Beers flowing, voices raised, language getting blue. Our conversation got quieter and quieter. Night ruined.
Our kids are kids for such a short time. Our time with them, wherever we are, is special and important.
|Moments before the Bugsy Malone food fight started.|
This post is linked up with #post40bloggers #writingprompt adult only spaces