Many years ago the fabulous Jack Dee used to do a routine about why do people take their kids to supermarkets to hit them. It was funny cos it was true. Then the smacking ban came in and that stopped.
Where do people take their kids nowadays to discipline them? I’ll tell you where. The Tate Modern, that’s where! Having waited for the Easter Holidays to finish before heading over to see the Damien Hirst retrospective I had convinced myself that it would be peaceful if not empty. After all this is a very popular show.
As I walked in the place was teeming with kids! Teenagers on school trips - fine. But there were swarms of toddlers running all over the Turbine Hall. I went into see the Yayoi Kutsama show first thinking it’d be empty-ish, but it wasn’t it was full of bloody kids running wild.
These weren’t the “chavs” you read about in the Daily Mail, these were middle class toddlers with their immaculately highlighted and blow-dried, Boden-wearing mothers who were clearly Xanax’d off their (surgically lifted) tits. These daft witches did nothing to stop their kids from touching the art, smearing carob-stained fingers all over priceless pieces and of course in a land where everyone is scared of being sued not one of the gallery attendants said a bloody word!
Mind you a few of the ones working at the Tate last Monday look like they’d have trouble stringing a sentence together. Or at least one that didn’t include the word ‘fuck’ if the conversation I overheard was anything to go by.
They closest any of these women came to disciplining their offspring was to “shhhhh” them constantly, thus adding to the noise pollution the little ones were already creating. Believe it or not, I’m not having a go at the kids, they were doing what any child would do given the chance. It’s their slack-arsed parents that piss me off.
I remember a few years back being at a gallery in Madrid and seeing a group of about 30 teeny tiny Spanish children - no older than four - sitting in rapt attention as the museum guide explained a piece of art to them. It was both heart-warming and life enhancing to see.
What is it with parents in this country? Why are so many of them incapable of teaching their children how to behave in public? It’s not a class thing. The Jonathans and Daisys are as badly behaved as the Keiths and Channels.
I don’t have children of my own (obviously or I wouldn’t be writing a piece like this would I?) so I have no idea how to raise one so that it’s disciplined yet free enough to be creative and self-assured.
I’m sure it’s a really difficult job, but I do know people who’ve got it right. I have friends whose toddlers can be taken to a restaurant without running around screaming like a banshee, so it must be possible.
For those of you who are finding it tough, you have my utmost sympathy and compassion. All I ask is keep the little fuckers at home till they’re civilised.
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