I read the news this week about how Blanford Manor in North Riding have decided to ban children from their establishment and initially the snarky tone of their release put my back up but I have spent sometime thinking about this and honestly, I’ve come to the conclusion that as parents, some of us seem to have lost the art of parenting our children.
I remember being a child and being taken to Spur. I was probably 8 or 9 when Spur first opened in Cape Town, it was not the Spur we know today, with sprawling play areas and where one expects to go and be surrounded by running and screaming children high on a sugar rush for the Chico the Clown they just inhaled. No. I was expected to sit at the table, mind my manners and keep my voice at a reasonable decibel level. I was expected to sit still and behave myself. I would not have, in my wildest dreams, imagined running through the restaurant, annoying other guests and getting under the feet of the waitering staff.
Have we gone mad in our modern society?
Most of us born in the 70’s and raised in the 80’s and parenting children now, were raised under the ethos of “children should be seen not heard”. Have we taken that to a whole new extreme, have we swung the parenting pendulum to the other side where we now think it’s ok for our children to run wild and to be an annoyance and irritation to others enjoying the same venue as them because hey, they’re just kids and that’s what kids do? Hell NO!
I get we live in a different time now. Kids cannot run free in the streets, forming biker gangs with the neighborhood kids or pitching tents and having camp outs in each others gardens, unsupervised. I get that our children don’t have the same freedoms we did. Hell, I won’t even let my kids ride their bikes unsupervised…. in the driveway, never mind the street.
Does that give our children free reign to run riot when we do go to a “child” friendly venue (that’s not Spur). When did “child friendly” venues equate to parents sitting on their arses and allowing their kids to do whatever the hell they want, without consequence? And seriously, I’m not just talking about Blanford Manor here. I’ve witnessed this first hand at other establishments too. Parents arrive, crack the first bottle of wine and stop caring about where their kids are or what they are up to. Not only is this hugely disrespectful to the establishment but it’s also bloody annoying for other customers.
I was shocked when I read some of the examples that Blanford Manor cited as reasons for this decision:
So what have children done that upsets us:
- Damage the plants:
- As a botanical garden we have a wide variety of trees, approximately 120 varieties. Many of these trees are carefully selected for their shape and cost a great deal (often several thousand of Rands each). It is pretty disheartening when children break branches and the parents response is “they’re just trees”. We have even had cases where trees have been broken at the base and completely lost, of course parents have never offered to pay for a replacement.
- We also spend a lot of time and money growing a wide variety of plants so that we have a display of flowers for people to see. Many children then pick the flowers as posies for Mom or Granny. We also get children that pick up sticks (or break them off the trees) and then use them to hit the flowers. We have lost complete beds of flowers in this way.
- Children love to run through the flower beds, they don’t care how many plants get trampled in the process, and apparently nor do the parents as they can often be heard encouraging the children.
- Injure the animals:
- Almost every day we have children chasing the ducks. This makes them very nervous and scared of humans and also chases away the wild birds.
- Chase the rabbit with sticks trying to hit it.
- Trying to catch the Koi or alternatively hit them with sticks and stones – frequently in the presence of their parents.
- Throw stones at the ducklings resulting in several being killed – this has traumatised some of our best clients who have said they will not return as a result.
- Bring in catties and air rifles with the express intention of shooting birds and any other animals they can find.
- Search for and find crabs, turtles, lizards etc and then pick them up and intentionally hurt or kill them.
- Search for and raid the birds and ducks nests for eggs then throw them around, including against the walls of the buildings
- Hitting and chasing the cats – these are our domestic cats
- Interfere directly with the enjoyment of other guests.
- We have had children use sticks to break the Chinese lanterns other people have brought in for their functions
- Entering the Spa and peeping through the widows
- Scream and shout and play catch or hide and seek around the tables of other guests.
- Play with balls, frisbees, model planes etc and throw, hit or kick them onto the tables of other guests. We have had glasses full of wine broken in this way, many upset clients in the process and in some cases clients actually injured by hard balls.
- Before we banned bicycles we had toddlers run over by older children on bikes – the parents response, “oh the kids must get used to this, that’s just part of growing up”.
- Hit or throw sand over the heads of other children.
- Damage our property:
- Using the wine buckets as toys to fill with sand and throw or float in the river.
- Throw the salt and pepper cellars in the dam and river
- Break windows, no, not just by accident but intentionally. Of course parents never own up and offer to pay for the damage.
- Intentionally break the jungly Jym – yes we have had older kids kicking the side panels off the jungle Jym and jumping on the bridge, trying as hard as they can to break the slats. It’s been an almost daily chore to make repairs.
- Playing with and breaking the perimeter alarm system, this may be fun for the kids but it leaves us without security and costs us a lot to effect repairs.
- Play a game with ice where one throws the ice and another tries to catch it, in a glass. Inevitably the glass gets broken and the parents just laugh it off.
- A favourite for some kids – carve their names etc into the tops of our Saligna tables.
- Drawing on the walls and pots
- Playing in the conference centre resulting in the breakage of pots and vases
- Visiting the Conference centre and entering the conference rooms when conferences are taking place.
- Running around the venue tripping up the waiters who are carrying trays of food
- Playing hide and seek in the main venue, hiding behind the curtains with dirty hands etc, resulting in dirty walls and curtains.
- Emptying all the salt and pepper cellars, breaking all the sugar tubes.
- Entering the conference toilets (clearly marked NO CHILDREN) and leaving mud and sand everywhere – this, not surprisingly, upsets our conference clients.
- And a final favourite of mums with babies – try and flush the dirty nappies down the drain resulting in blocked drains, toilets etc.
- Simply being extremely rude
I just love children that shout at me, make rude signs and blow raspberries, don’t you?.
Changing the (very dirty and smelly) nappies of children right next to tables where people are having a meal
What the hell guys! Are we raising the future generation to be a bunch of cruel, callous, disrespectful thugs? Thugs with no regard for anyone but themselves, who think they are entitled to do whatever the hell they want without consequence? No man! What hell is going to happen to our society if this is what we’re raising as our future leaders, movers and shakers?
Killing ducklings and being rude to adults…. these are children we’re talking about, imagine how delightful they’ll be as self entitled adult sociopaths who think can do whatever they want to whoever they want without consequence!
Maybe it’s because I spent a large percentage of my adult life being childless that I take exception to this behavior because on numerous occasions before we had kids, I recall going to nice venues, looking forward to a pleasant dinner or lunch and having it ruined by other people’s out of control kids. And I blame the parents. I recall once going to a dinner where we got into a huge argument with the table seated next to us because their kids were playing a game of chase, AROUND OUR TABLE and bashing my chair constantly while the parents looked on dispassionatley. I eventually called the child over myself and told them to stop it and go play somewhere else, to which the parents proceeded to lambaste me verbally because how dare I? No dear, HOW DARE YOU!
Even now as a parent, I am conscious of this when we go out. If it’s not Spur, there are rules. You do not do whatever you want. You stay where I can see you. You do not run through the restaurant. You do not scream, shout or play a game of catch around a table. You do not get to annoy other paying customers. And you do not ever ever ever get to heart an animal, EVER!
We are doomed if we don’t raise our children to be respectful, compassionate adults and by allowing them to run riot without consequence, well, we’re setting them up for a bleak future.
I am appalled!