parents

Calm down, people. This 'protecting the children' hysteria has gone too far.

Oh the shock and the horror!

A hotelier has offered a primary school incentives such as new lighting for its sporting grounds should it withdraw a petition to stop a pub being built nearby.

A story in Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald explained how the Casula Parents and Citizens club were “horrified” by the “bribe” and remained as determined as ever not to have the pub go ahead and be built 135 metres from the school grounds.

“We don’t want people who are drinking or gambling near the kids,” Jacinta Tran, mother of year 6 pupil Alexander, who started a 700 strong petition, harrumphed.

“They tend to become more aggressive and it doesn’t send a good message to children. The kids don’t like it,” she said.

Pub near school
The article on Sydney Morning Herald. Source: smh.com.au

Well, here’s what I’d like to say to Mrs Tran and all the other alarmed parents, “Get a grip!” I understand that you care for your kids’ safety but I’m sorry to say the world does not rotate around your offspring.

This ‘protecting the children’ hysteria has gone too far. A pub is called progress, an incentive that will no doubt bring money and employment to the Liverpool area. Yes, people will drink and gamble on the pokies at a pub but last time I checked, adults are allowed a life too, one that doesn’t need to kowtow to the myriad fears of helicopter parents.

There was a pub down the road from my school, which also sat near an RSL. And I didn’t learn till years later, a brothel working out of a nearby premise. I don’t recall any drunks harassing me, other than my mother after a few white wines, rushing me to the car to avoid traffic.

And before you start to think I’m on publican Peter De Angelis’ payroll, take a deep breath, because I’m not. Never met him and frankly hadn’t heard of him until I read the story yesterday. All I’m trying to say is that a pub is not a nuclear reactor, a toxic waste dump or rife range for the blind. It is a pub people, something those primary school kids will grow up to visit. Hell, they may even get a job there! It is a playground for adults. A part of society.

But my argument isn’t about the merits of pubs, it’s about the ridiculous demands of parents these days, how having an infant or young child makes you somehow able to call the shots on how the rest of us live.

Pub near school
“My argument isn’t about the merits of pubs, it’s about the ridiculous demands of parents these days.” Source: iStock
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I give you an example that happened to me last summer. It was a beautiful morning so I took my dog to our local park where I tied him to a tree I was sitting under to read the newspapers.

Several minutes later a young child came waddling towards us, unsupervised, keen to pat my little pal. My boy Iggy has been trained to be gentle with kids and is. So when this little girl came up waling “puppy, puppy” I allowed her to pat Ig, who remained his sweet, contained self. It was a lovely moment.

However, it was short-lived. You would have thought I was a pedophile caught mid fiddle by the reaction of the child’s mother, who finally noticed her child had wandered off. She thundered towards me telling me to get that dog away from her daughter (!). “I am trying to teach her to be scared of dogs” (!!!!!).

You don’t need to be Nostradamus to work out I was offended. And so I pointed out that there are other people in this world than her child and actually, the park is for everyone, dogs included. I explained that perhaps she should have watched her child more closely. I pointed out that “children must be supervised” is a condition for using the park, just as having a dog on lead or tied up is. I complied. She didn’t.

The next thing I knew she flew off in a rage, only to return with her husband and several other mothers all screaming at me that I am a child hater. So much for a relaxing bit of quiet time under a shady tree in a park I pay rates to upkeep too. So much for the fact I was looking out for her child when she was not.

Sadly, I am starting to get used to this vile accusation I don’t like children. You see, I am also one of those people who, if in a restaurant and a child is running around screaming, I will point this out to the parents and ask them to quiet their charges. If a kid is kicking the back of my plane seat, I will ask it not to. If a child is blocking a lane on a supermarket, I will ask them to move.

This does not mean I don’t like children – I do. What it actually mean is I do not respect parents who do not discipline their children. I’m talking parents who believe their child’s desires are paramount to all others’, who don’t teach their children boundaries, manners and respect but rather a narcissistic sense of entitlement.

Which makes me wonder whether the parents of the Casula Primary School kids, whose petition and subsequent community backlash stopped the pub’s first application, shouldn’t just take a chill pill along with the sports ground lights and other amenities on offer.

Perhaps instead of telling kids to be scared of pubs and their patrons, they should be teaching tolerance for all – and that includes dogs!

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