Tiny tyrants

ImageSuzanne Moore’s brilliant piece in the Guardian yesterday about the worship of children was thought provoking, particularly for those of us of a certain age who have already brought up a family.

The parents Suzanne refers to can be seen in any up and coming area of London. The child is wheeled around in a grotesquely large buggy, hogging the pavement, and woe betide any lesser mortal who may want to share the space. I have been pushed, shoved or had abuse hurled at me for daring to suggest I too have a right to walk where I want.

Stopping for a coffee is a nightmare. The coffee shop has often been commandeered by a whole raft of yummy mummy fascists. It is nigh on impossible to weave your way around the buggies to get to a small table in a corner.

Once seated your ears are likely to be assaulted by screaming, yelling out of control kids who run amok whilst mums are either deep in conversation or glued to their i-phones unaware of the havoc being wreaked around other people.

I am going to sound like my grandmother now but in our day, when we had children, even if we were working mums, we viewed it as a commitment. Having children meant you automatically gave up things like the freedom to do what you wanted when you wanted.

When our babies cried, rather than stuff a bottle in its mouth we would communicate with it, pick it up, jiggle it about, coo to it until it was soothed. Sometimes, dare I say it, we would decide it was better to take it home where it was in familiar surroundings and if it was tired, it could sleep.

Not for today’s mum is there any notion that she must forego her own pleasure in order to meet her baby’s needs. If she wants to meet up with friends the baby must take second place. If the baby makes a noise it is merely an interruption to what she sees as her real life.

Once the baby can walk however things soon change and they are bestowed with the status of demigod. The lack of communication and bonding between the mother and the tiny baby then usually comes home to roost.

You see these children in a department store as you are idly browsing. You may suddenly come upon an uninhabited buggy and see a mother desultorily chatting on her phone and rifling through the rails. Be assured there is a little tyrant of a child close by. And soon you will hear it as it hurtles around the store, tripping up staff, completely out of control.

None of the mothers are even vaguely aware that their offspring is causing so much mayhem. How boring it is for a young child to be carted from pillar to post while mum goes shopping. How much easier it would be for all concerned if the mother had sorted out some care for her child so that she could shop in peace (as could we). The whole experience would be so much less stressful for all concerned.

Eating out on a recent visit to Spain brought home that the way we treat our children in the UK is pretty unique. Over there, little ones are seen as part of the family. When they are out and about very few children were in a buggy. Often Dad was seen carrying a baby or small child in his arms and sitting the baby on their lap at the dinner table.

Over here children seem to be unable to eat out without squealing and shouting and being the centre of attention. They have to be carefully placed in a special high chair whereas  abroad a small cushion will suffice. Children then sit up and socialize with the family and are expected to fit in.

When are we going to learn in the UK that children are simply small people who need to learn to be sociable with adults as well as their peer group. Whilst we let them believe that every time they speak or make a noise all conversation stops and all eyes are upon them there is little hope that will ever happen.

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