There’s an article on the Guardian website today. About child free places, which you can read here. The writing, I think, whilst expressing a common sentiment, perhaps leaves a lot to be desired in terms of how it is expressed and of course, the writer, being without child, will immediately be thrown under the bus by parents immediately jumping to the defence of little Johnny. Here’s the thing though. I’m a mum. Birth mother to 4, plus an extra one (long story, search on my blog). And to a certain extent, I agree with the author.
I live in a lovely suburb (if one can call Ladywell / Brockley a “suburb” (note use of parenthesis) in South East London. I’ve been here for 15 years, since my older kids were younger and my two younger kids (now 10 & 12) have lived their entire life here. I have visited coffee shops, with the kids, I have OCCASIONALLY visited local pubs with the kids, but when I do, they are well behaved. They sit, chat, play at the table. They do NOT run around the respective venue, like it’s a kindergarten, shouting and getting under the feet of other patrons or staff. And that’s my problem. It’s not the children as such, it’s the parents who seem to think that allowing their kids to dominate a coffee shop, a restaurant, a pub is perfectly acceptable – it’s not. You should be parenting your child and if you want them to have a nice runaround whilst you have a drink, then get a can of cider and go sit with them in the park. Unlike Ms Bindel, I recognise that not all parents allow their kids to run amok, but I have certainly seen my fair share and yes, it drives me crazy. A couple of years ago a local bar announced that for 1 or 2 afternoons a week they were launching a soft play session for mummies and their toddlers. A BAR! For the sake of fuck. Ridiculous. I was berated when I suggested that this was a bad decision and told that if I didn’t like it, to go to another pub. I couldn’t be cause the majority of pubs in the area allow children until 9pm and there is no escape.
I would love to open a coffee shop and cafe exclusively for adults. I think it’s a great idea. My older kids agree with me. What is so wrong about wanting to go out and not have to “climb over” pushchairs? The idea of child free carriages on trains is also appealing – we have quiet zones, why not child free ones? When I travel on business, I absolutely make a conscious decision to move carriages if there are noisy children.
There is an old adage that children should be “seen and not heard”. Yes it’s old fashioned, but whilst I don’t advocate that children should be constantly silent, there is no excuse for poor parenting and bad behaviour with kids. If they want to “express themselves” (which is the usual explanation for not chastising your child), then may I suggest a park, your own home or a pub/restaurant that has a specific play area. Thanks.