Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Bane of Bairns

I hate children, all children from new borns to those on the cusp of adulthood; I don’t discriminate and happily include strangers, acquaintances and family members. I know, not a popular opinion. I should add that I don’t actively wish them harm, but the fact remains that children irritate me and as such I am looking to impose a UN sanctioned no juveniles zone. The actual mechanics of the zone have yet to be thrashed out but I’m doing pretty well so far in policing my own informal arrangement. I’m just hoping Ban Ki-moon will sanction some clips round the ear to complement my glaring.

I’ve never been interested in my own or anyone else’s progeny; as a young adult I never foresaw my family lineage doing anything other than halting with me. I didn’t ever imagine myself as someone’s dad, nurturing, teaching, helping a child grow into a functioning adult and then sitting back with pride at the not inconsiderable achievements of my loins and mind. No thank you. I know that it seems the most natural thing in the world to many but nature and I are at odds on this one. I’m not quite sure where this antipathy originated and there was a time when I assumed that maybe I just wasn’t ready and nature would give me a nudge when appropriate to take care of business.

I’m now at an age where the general expectation is that you should be having or already have had children, if not there must be some physiological problem precluding breeding in which case you merit great sympathy. Most of my friends now have children and insist on telling me all about them, sometimes sending me pictures of them and frequently posting photos on Facebook accompanied by hackneyed ‘sleeping’, ‘crawling’, ‘first steps’ statements. I assume that I’m being afforded great sympathy by them for my failure to procreate, the tacit ‘trouble’ I must be having; if they knew of my dislike and disinterest in children they surely wouldn’t insist on keeping me abreast of the minutiae of their spawn’s ‘progress’ and would come to rightly regard me as the selfish and shallow individual I am; qualities which I am perfectly comfortable with.

The sound of children elicits the same response in me as nails scraped down a blackboard. I bristle in the presence of them in much the same way that other people become tense and uncomfortable at the presence of a smoker or a hooded teen; preferable company in my opinion. I scan the area and plot exit stratagies like one of Andy McNabb’s fictitious heroes. I know that they can’t hurt me, not physically, but they can ruin my day.

I recently visited a bar with my father, an establishment we had enjoyed on many occasions previously. By pure good luck we obviously hadn’t had the misfortune of visiting on a Friday afternoon before. This particular bar is opposite a prep school where the aspiring middle classes part with their hard inherited cash in order that their offspring receive the best of starts. A laudable idea. A little after three thirty the formerly peaceful idyll was transformed by the arrival of squadrons of Ritalin starved apes ‘overseen’ by a small team of moneyed, negligent, clothes horses. It was dreadful, I hated it, my father hated it and the staff clearly hated it. The clothes horses seemed unaware of the chaos and clearly didn’t think that they ought to play any part in the disciplining of their children. Dad and I glowered into our swiftly consumed pints and the staff offered the sagely advice of avoiding Friday afternoons in future.

Children in pubs, this is one of my biggest bugbears, pubs are adult environments, for adults. I don’t ruin it for them by making the playground unwelcoming; the pub is my playground and they are effectively breaking the slide and smashing the swings when they enter a pub. How can I enjoy the sticky carpet, the company of the unhinged and the extortion in a child-friendly pub?

I know my stance will horrify and offend some, thankfully those known to me will be too busy with their offspring to read that I watch You’ve Been Framed purely to see children falling over and hurting themselves, it’s my rather benign revenge.

Tim Mac

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