Having spent most of the weekend wandering through the local village during “Lobster Festival” (only in South County Dublin….) and surveying a wealth of ruddy-faced parents jovially clinking glasses while the kids happily glued their eyeballs to a nearby device, I couldn’t help “buttwonder”… have I been getting it wrong all along?
These people were OUT. Out with their partners and their kids AFTER 7pm!! And they were having fun! Man, I was envious. Given my two are packed off to bed at 7:30pm at the latest each night (mummy needs her “downtime”), having them out in such an environment post 7pm just isn’t really a goer. They are creatures of habit and routine as a result of their parent’s mandatory downtime, and therefore we’ve locked ourselves out of whim and impromptu possibilities. Sure, in this instance, one of us was happily wandering through a village of inebriates scarfing lobster, but the other one was at home making sure the kids were alive.
There have been times, on occasion, where we would have the kids out after 7pm – but those times are rare for two reasons. They are both so used to their routine that the 4-year-old gets high on the sheer craziness of it all. Drunk with excitement, she often trips over her own feet and lamping a chair. Meanwhile, the 1-year-old will just scream blue bloody murder from 7:05pm onwards until she’s deposited in a darkened room containing her own cot.
Before you start presuming what I usually think – “Well, they’ve after incarcerating themselves” – we’ve yet to address the second reason why my kids aren’t usually out after 7pm… Judgy McJudgy Face. Yes, JMJF is omnipresent, offering unsolicited advice/opinions in shops, parks, and on various modes of public transport, but they are especially vocal in pubs and restaurants – particularly after a certain time.
The stares we’ve received pushing a pram through our local pub after enjoying a spot of dinner are varying. There’s the odd face depicting the memories of someone recalling a time long since past. Then there’s a slew of eyeballs screaming “I’ll be paying a fecking shedload for a babysitter when I get home; could you not have done the same?!! Get those bleedin’ kids ourrah me face!” On those precious occasions where myself and the husband get out sans offspring (which, realistically is 2 to 3 times a year) I would be among those balking at the sight of children.
While one should never let JMJF’s dictate how you run your household or rear your children – in this instance, I find it particularly tricky to tell them where to go… Why? My own childhood. An inordinate amount of time was spent lurking under bar tables – but only during the summer months – when we were on holidays in Kilmuckridge. We would be there until closing and sometimes I had mixed feelings about it.
There was freedom, and a lot to be learned about people in such an environ (for good and for ill). Also – if Rory the barman was on – there would be an unlimited supply of Tayto and red lemonade. However, there were many downsides, such as the lack of control; how would we get back to the caravan?! Walk in the pitch dark, or would I be sitting on a family member’s knee careering down a rural road courtesy of someone processing their fair share of shandies? And that’s not even taking into consideration the amount of second-hand smoke consumed #acceptableinthe80s.
Speaking in retrospect it may sound like an adventure, however, at times I found it more than a bit scary. Obviously, somewhere in the subconscious, a mental note was made for future reference; I would not put my children through the same thing. But has that been taken too far? Surely there’s a balance to be struck…? Yet I can’t find it. We live within walking distance of at least 8 pubs, most of which serve food, and yet – at 6:45 on the dot – I start itching myself and frenziedly pack up shop to make sure we’re out of the pub by 7pm. Christ, if there’s a sign on the door stating “No children after 7pm” we wouldn’t even darken it in the first place… Judgy McJudgy Face.
I have friends who happily have their kids out in their local until after 10pm – because they haven’t been routine Nazis. And, of them, I’m envious. Why not stay out past “bedtime” if everyone’s happy? There are other friends who have been asked to leave a nearby pub as they had their 3-year-old out after 10pm. People stared, people judged, and management asked them to bring their child home. I would’ve died. Instead, they asked their kid if they wanted to go home, the kid said no, and yet they had to go regardless. If everyone is happy, is it really anyone else’s business?
Would you have an issue with a kid being in a pub after 7pm (presuming said kid was happy with the situation) or do you believe they have no place being in such an establishment after a certain time?
Answers on a postcard (or in the comments, whatever you prefer).