Cafes. Aeroplanes. Galleries. Restaurants. Shopping centres. Pubs.
What these places all have in common is they are part of a growing mass of public spaces where people are becoming increasingly intolerant towards children.
I’m concerned about a society that expects children to know how to behave in public (with the exact prescription of discipline) when their very presence is almost frowned upon.
It’s very rare that I encounter a parent who is not ‘disciplining their children properly’ (whatever that means in relation to culture, upbringing and factors such as sleep deprivation). And maybe it was because my eldest son was blessed with a spirited nature but when I see a child screaming, I’m more inclined to feel empathy rather than superiority or anger that my cup of coffee is being ruined.
I’d wager it’s a small element of society that is hell bent on making everyone accommodate their darling progeny or worse, their “lifestyle choice” (um it’s a baby, not a Portsea holiday house). I don’t expect people to endure my children’s screams much like I don’t want to endure too many photos of people’s cats but sometimes they’re unavoidable. And sometimes extricating yourself from the public sphere isn’t as simple as slipping out a side door.
What gets to me most about a shopping centre seeking to stamp out “screaming children” is that quite often shopping centres are a last resort for parents of challenging children. It can be a welcome relief to the trials of cutlery, cramped spaces and too-hot scrambled egg. Then there is the fact that shopping centres with their well placed marketing materials, ample junk food and flood-lit spaces are a breeding ground for screaming. Heck, I feel like screaming sometimes.
There’s no perfect way to discipline a child. There’s no perfect child. Much like adults, they are flawed. And much like humans in general, parents can be flawed too. It bothers me that these types of rules appear to give license to judge other parents and sadly it is far too often that the judgement seems to come from other parents.
Who wants to place bets where screaming kids will be banned next? Central business districts? Swimming pools?