Sometimes I wish I’d called one of my sons Johnny. This isn’t because I particularly like the name; it’s just so that the next time some child-phobic misanthrope saw fit to comment on his less-than-adult behaviour, I could say, in an exaggeratedly mumsy voice, “just you leave my little Johnny alone!”. I bet that’d really piss them off (for good measure, the other son would be called Timmy Timpson, after Spoilt Bastard in Viz. Obviously it’s too late now. Why do I never think of these things at the time?).
Two children I imagine are NOT called Johnny and Timmy are a pair of 14-week-old twins whose parents took them on flight and provided “apology” gifts to all the other passengers, to excuse in advance the shocking behaviour of those who’ve had fewer than six months on Earth in which to learn the rules of polite society. I read about this in an excellent blog post from Scribbles from the Middle. Mummy and Daddy – “AKA our portable milk machine and our diaper changer” – are clearly feeling uneasy about the intrusion of their offspring into other people’s quiet lives (not that I recall adults on plane flights as ever having been particularly quiet. In fact, do you know what I’d find really cool? If all those people who are scared of flying and get totally pissed in the departure lounge were to scrawl barely legible “apology in advance” notes on the back of their boarding passes. Each ending with “ah fuckin’ luv u”, obviously).
I’m aware that in having children, neither I nor anyone else is doing humankind a massive favour. There are some people who gain from this – CBeebies presenters, for instance – and while the anti-children brigade can moan about over-population, we parents can counter this with the made-up argument that we did it all to combat “an ageing population”. But still, for something that’s so shockingly inconvenient, I’d say that overall having children is remarkably non-altruistic. But then so, by and large, is being alive. And yes, while you didn’t choose to be born, I did choose to have children. But anyhow, I’m not going into that. My kids are here now, so what are you going to do about it?
Moan, that’s what, at least if you’re someone who dislikes the presence of little people in planes, shops and restaurants, and at social events (I wonder if a baby’s ever been banned from his or her own christening? Seriously, it wouldn’t surprise me). Having had a century of ridiculing the Victorians for apparently believing that “children should be seen and not heard”, it would appear that it’s now radical to assert this all over again. The child-free now feel they’ve been “seen and not heard” for far too long. For today’s children – little Johnnies and Jacintas – it’s time to shut the hell up.
Well, seeing as my children are being rather quiet at the moment (I’ve stuffed their gobs with cake – hope you approve), there are several things I would like to make clear:
- No one starts life as a parent. We parents all know how wonderful and altruistic being a non-parent is, because that used to be us, too. Back when we were working for Amnesty and giving all our extra cash to Oxfam and being totally and utterly silent on all those plane flights to war zones where we were serving as human shields. That once was us. But yes, we’ve changed. We know it. We’re sorry.
- Yes, our children can be really fucking annoying. How can you possibly think we haven’t noticed this? Honestly, you don’t know the half of it (not meant in a smug way – more that this is even more of a shambles than it looks). So can all outsiders please work on the assumption that yes, we’re aware of what fuckwits our offspring are being? No need to point it out, thanks.
- If we started banning people who were annoying and/or had a poor grasp of the unwritten rules of social interaction from all public events, where would it end? I mean, look at your own friends and family – would you really be seen with them ever again? At least not without copy of Debrett’s and some hardcore tranquilisers, in case all else fails.
So anyhow, those are my thoughts on the matter. But I now need to go since Little Johnny is being a total sod and whining about Timmy Timpson “spoiling his game”. Oh well. All part of life’s rich tapestry <runs off to assemble “apology bags” for the neighbours>