Don’t apologise for your children

Someone with children spoiled my flight

A crying baby ruined my morning coffee-break”

Can’t you control your toddlers in the supermarket?

Your children are too loud.”

Parents all over the world are being made to apologise for their children’s perfectly normal behaviour. It burdens them with an unnecessary, nagging, constant guilt, puts the wedge of “shhh!” between parent and child, and it needs to stop.

Here’s a real scene: I — the ageing boomer — met up with a younger father of youngsters, at a lakeside park with a playground, and he felt somehow obliged to apologise that a two-year-old and a four-year-old can get boisterous.

Mate, if only you’d met my sons at that age. I thought your kids were just fine. Credits to their parents, joys to behold, ornaments to the sport, etc etc etc.

At two years old, running is still an unselfconcious joy. It’s not something you get your Fitbit to report on Twitter: you see a space big enough to run in, and by damn, you run.

Yelling is the same: suddenly there’s a big space around you, a blue sky above you, no walls to echo. Just a yell to yell, as you out-pirate-Blackbeard, sword in hand, ridding the seas of some imaginary menace.

Add a lake with ducks in it, and you have heaven for any child still young enough to shout, run, and chase the ducks.

“Children should be seen and not heard” doesn’t belong in the modern world. If you don’t like children being in public spaces, get out of public spaces, because children have every right to be there, and there’s no damn reason their parents should have to sequester kids just so you don’t have to hear them.

To every young parent I know or hope to meet: don’t apologise that your children are children. Stop worrying. Your children aren’t ruining my day by being loud, boisterous, bouncy, childish, demanding, all of the things that make them children.

Let them run, shout, demand your attention, show off, cry at a skinned knee, laugh too loud. Let them be children. Let them hurt my ears, interrupt my sentences, divert my own all-too-seriousness by playing games with hats. It’s not just good for the kids, it’s good for all of us.