Do unto your children what your parents did unto you

And by that I mean nothing more sinister than parking them in front of a television screen with a bag of crisps, while you engage in more adult behaviour. By which I mean food and drink. Or you could always leave them outside the restaurant in your parked car. In the dark. While you eat.

It’s (British) adult behaviour at its weirdest.

I was enraged – yet again – by the Guardian’s travel section on ‘Where to stay’ by Sally Shalam. The lovely hotel with the wonderful food that she writes about is great if you’re encumbered by children. ‘En route to the restaurant, we spot a TV area with books and videos – you could park the kids here and have what a menu on the bar calls “posh afternoon tea”‘.

Quite. Of course you could. Did the grandparents not want to mind the little darlings then? There must have been some purpose to them being with you? Perhaps they look cute in the holiday snaps?

It’s hardly surprising British children don’t learn to go places or eat normal adult food. They’re never included.

We’re such clueless idiots that we’ve taken Offspring to most things we’ve done, however pitiful the number of those occasions might be. If we eat out they come too. If they weren’t invited to daytime ‘parties’ we tended not to go either. There was the family wedding that was to be so perfect they banned children. (To be honest, I would probably not have enjoyed it, had I attended.)

The – fancy – hotel that expected the child below the age of 12 to dine at the children’s hour, on baked beans and the like, while the older child was welcome(ish) in the real dining room at the later time. We insisted on the baked beans and the child to be allowed to dine with her family. Was she meant to sit alone in the hotel room while we ate?

They got their revenge the next morning when the waiter snootily informed us the establishment was far too grand to serve baked beans. At all.

As a little witch I was always included in adult dos, and taken to proper restaurants. I somehow grew up with the idea that Mother-of-witch liked my company. I somehow find I quite like the company of Offspring, too. Now that they are old enough to be left alone in hotel rooms, I still don’t feel it’s the point of holidays.

We always made it very clear on invitations to parties that we actively wanted people to bring their children. Generally they arrived childless, because they ‘knew we didn’t really mean it’. As hosts you look a wee bit stupid having hired that bouncy castle, but never mind.

So whether children, when they grow up, do what their parents did because it feels natural, or because they want revenge, I have no idea. But it’s good that a liberal newspaper like the Guardian is at the forefront of parents’ lib.

Getting a babysitter is one solution, though I tended to feel I wanted to enjoy Offspring’s company rather than leaving that to someone else.

And if you’re really pushed, I suggest you lock them in the car outside the restaurant. A bag of crisps will suffice while the adults force some nice food down themselves. (In fairness, I have only seen this once. It might not be a widespread tradition.)

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