Standing up for Families – ALWAYS!
Yes, I’ve been making unwanted headlines this week. No – I didn’t sign up for the Strictly / Blue Peter / Children in Need Special (Da da da da da da da – da da da da DAAAAAA!) but I DID go out for a halfterm lunch with my kids! *sharp intake of breath
I know. Who knew a lunch could be so controversial but we had an experience which led to THIS tweet:
As you know, I’m a happy person and ALL about the positive so it takes a LOT to get me riled. But show prejudice towards families and children or fail to respect others and BOOM – here comes the tweet!
I thought it was just an observational tweet that I’d send out into the ether as ever, but boy was I wrong! Who knew a tweet could be so divisive! About 90% of the responses were supportive, disappointingly telling their own tales of negativity and disrespect towards families, 10% were in the predictable “if your family can’t behave in a restaurant..” bracket of totally mis-understanding the situation. Wrong. End. Of. Stick. One of which led me to send THIS response:
We went out for a half-term lunch to Pizza Express – a *family friendly restaurant which we love because the kids menu is great, it comes with colouring and stickers and the Superfood Salad is to die for, so everyone is happy! Family Winning at it’s finest! (*family friendly restaurant – check out the Pizza Express website with their Kids section on the homepage, Piccolo Menu, Pizza-Making parties, school visits – it’s quite an impressive list! The clues are all there people!)
After about 15 minutes, a couple came in and sat at the table next to the kids. They then proceeded to spend the rest of our meal glaring every time any kid even spoke and muttering comments like “I’m trying to enjoy my lunch here” when nobody was actually saying or doing ANYTHING which would prevent the enjoyment of said lunch. Beyond bizarre!
I always teach the kids to respect every0ne and never to approach any situation with pre-conceptions on who someone is, based on appearances. Let’s take everyone as they come. The world is full of individuals.
We embrace difference in this house, we’re kind always, and we respect everyone. End of.
The irony that the glares and negativity were coming from individuals who would like us to “respect our elders” wasn’t lost on me. Surely respect is a two way street?
For the record, our manners are impeccable and I’m hot on kids behaving well in restaurants.
Also – this is in no way an ageist post or observation. Negativity towards families comes from people of all ages and there are kind, lovely people of all ages in exactly the same way there are those of a negative disposition.
I’m also not “outing” the couple, nor saying where the restaurant was – because I want to protect all identities and I know the problem isn’t limited to one solitary couple! We’ve actually been on several Pizza Express outings this holiday as it’s a family favourite. I’m just trying to make a general point.
And this headline was a little misleading in The Daily Mail. Not entirely sure one tweet should be classed as a “tirade” and there were NO complaints about noisy children, because children weren’t being noisy! My WHOLE point is that it was a strange choice for the couple in question to enter a busy family restaurant, which was already filled with half term children and then be annoyed there were children there!
Let’s liken it, for example, to the fact that I don’t like travelling on packed commuter trains. I therefore choose to travel outside of rush hours for that very reason. If I have to travel in the rush hour? Then I need to be ready for a packed train, close proximity to others and possibly someone’s armpit in my face!
Likewise, if you don’t like kids …
- Take a long, hard look at yourself! **NEWSFLASH** you were a kid once!
- Don’t sit next to them and then glare at the them when they’re doing nothing to warrant it! You CHOSE to go into a busy family-friendly restaurant IN HALF TERM and SIT NEXT TO KIDS! You can’t then act surprised that you’re SITTING NEXT TO KIDS?!
And what annoys me most of all? Kids above a certain age are astute. Mine were more than aware of the disapproving glances and vibes coming our way and it tainted an otherwise brilliant experience.
Since tweeting about it, I’ve had countless messages back from people who’ve sadly experienced hostility towards their families in all kinds of situations and it makes me really sad:
One of the reasons I LOVE going on holiday to Italy is the attitude towards kids. In restaurants, they can’t do enough for you as a family. At night, kids play around town square fountains while people of all generations sit embracing the experience. It’s how cross-generational family life should be! It works – and I LOVE it!
In Finland kids don’t start school until they’re 7. We start at 5. That’s 2 more years of kids ROAMING (heaven forbid!) and not in school and yet Finland comes out top time and again as the best place to raise a family because it EMBRACES FAMILIES!
In a 2017 study in The Independent, carried out by Business Insider, Finland came out top as the Best Place in the World to Raise a Family – based on children’s health, safety and wellbeing – quality of education and its “friendly attitude towards children”.
So yes, I felt let down by my experience this week and I’m passionate about supporting families and I’m a bit bored of kids here often being seen as second class citizens and somewhat of an inconvenience.
Can we just get a bit more tolerant and Family Friendly?