Imagine being told you were not allowed to dine in a particular restaurant, because accompanying you was a child under the age of 6? Or being kicked off a plane as the grumpy stewardess had decided your 19month old child was laughing a little too loud for her liking? And worst of all, visualise what it would be like to have a complete stranger come over and slap your child in a department store, all because she was ruining his shopping trip?
I know – SERIOUSLY?!
Oh yes, ridiculous as it sounds, it has all happened in the US and as a result “brat bans” are a hot topic of conversation.
This was the theme of today’s Dr Phil Show (well, something had to replace my Oprah TV addiction, didnt it?!) and the thing that irritated me the most is the fact that all of the people who were interviewed for instigating or defending these bans – the restaurant owner, the air stewardess, the waiter, the fellow patrons – WERE CHILDLESS! Therefore they have not had the pleasure of dealing with a full blown tantrum of epic proportions in a public place, they have not had the privilege of trying to persuade a mini cyclone of destructive intent to keep calm, to behave, to do as they are told. They have not enjoyed the opportunity to trying to placate their overtired, or overstimulated offspring with what feels like a thousand pairs of beady eyes of conviction being cast your way, as if you have willingly signed up to be judged in a public arena on your parenting skills.
Nope, instead they just want to espouse their unsolicited advice in the most unhelpful of ways, by assuming they have the right to dole out discipline to children or discrimination to those who’ve chosen to have a family and dared to leave the four walls of their home.
Take the “Wal-mart Man” – he claimed he was just trying to get the attention of the tantruming child by “patting” her cheek – because at the age of 4 the child ought to know the difference between right and wrong he states. Yes, in a parallel universe where illness, diagnosed behavioural issues or broken sleep do not exist, that sounds plausible for sure…
You know what, if my son is mid meltdown mode in a public place I can guarantee you I am the one who is loathing it the most. I am the one who is most mortified, most ready to flee the scene. Trust me when I say I don’t relish the thought of dining out much with my child either (therefore we don’t do it often), yet if it got to the point where it was affecting the enjoyment of other patrons, I would up and leave in a heartbeat. But mid flight, where it is impossible to have an impromptu evacuation, cut a parent some slack. If they are anything like me they’ll have not only said a thousand Hail Mary’s that the flight go smoothly (for all concerned) but have packed what they hope to be a fail safe bag of tricks and endless supply of snacks to keep said child amused. Failing that, if anyone dared say anything to me I’d happily hand my child over to the person who had the nerve to complain and offer them the opportunity to do better than I was trying to do. Because clearly, they must know everything about parenting, right?
I know I am far from the perfect parent, and my child (like any other) is prone to misbehaving at times. But guess what, he is also prone to being oh so good too! Regardless, I am doing the very best job I know how in the circumstances in which I live, and with the tools that I have at my disposal. And I hazard a guess that the other parents targeted in this Dr Phil show were exactly the same. Don’t discriminate against a parent just because their child might be having a bad day. We ALL have them, children included.
I understand that fellow diners, travellers, shoppers all are entitled to enjoying the activity that they are pursuing with a relative degree of peace and pleasantry but for the love of all things communal, understand this – YOU ARE IN PUBLIC! There will always be a certain level of noise, unwanted or not. If you don’t like it, perhaps consider not dining out, not travelling, and take up online shopping just like you seem to think is socially acceptable for parents to undertake instead. Or look into locating the set of The Truman Show. It might be closer to your required level of unrealistic utopia that you seek.