Published in Trespass 12/11/09

I have two options. One, make no pretences that this week’s column has naught to do with celebrity folly and everything to do with a general rant against humanity. Two, attempt to link it, albeit arbitrarily to a celebrity like, I don’t know, Oksana Grigorieva. I’ll take the second option if only to give context to plucking Oksana Grigorieva out of the air – she isn’t, after all, the first celebrity that springs to one’s mind. She is currently on the cover of some magazine with her (teeny) newborn child aka Mel ‘Sperm Factory’ Gibson’s 87th child. Her being on the cover of said magazine (in this weird quasi Angelina pose) is a relatively smooth segue into what I want to discuss (scream about) this week; children.

Children who roar in public places for no other reason than they’re bored, or want their parent to look at them. Children who are let loose to canter up and down supermarket aisles, shrieking with gay abandon. Children who are allowed to hijack adult conversations with inane and completely uninteresting stories.

Who tells these children they’re interesting? I mean I don’t want to be all ‘what has Generation X done to their children’ but … what has Generation X done to their children? In their quest to indulge the Individual in all of us, have they completely lost sight of the fact we live in communities and there are communal customs one must grow up to respect, even revere – like, to pluck an experiment out of thin air, personal space? A grocery shopping trip that doesn’t leave me wanting to inject myself? And I’m not referring to all Gen X parents, and indeed Gen Y parents, just the ones who think their little one is the most fascinating orator in the world and everyone else should be subject to their trilling opinions. And yes that’s trilling, not thrilling. 

Supermarkets are always where you find the worst ones. And yes, to be fair, they’re probably bored or tired or hyperactive or all of the above. But, really, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to go barreling down the aisles screaming with laughter like a hyena, or make life generally unpleasant for those around you trying to choose between Allens party mix and home brand tropical fruits. I watched a harried mother talking to distraught looking friend today, with the harried mother’s hideous six-year-old braying loudly about how she got scratched at school today. Hey, sweetie, no one cares. And no one has to care. Your mother is trying to converse with someone (who looks visibly distressed and is casting narrow eyes in your direction) so pipe down for five minutes. It’s not that hard to tell yourself stories or count to two hundred or develop some interior monologue on the decrepit old man studying horseradish jars opposite you. It’s actually quite character building.

And whilst I’m on the subject of children who have never heard the product of verbalizing an N and an O alongside each other, can I touch briefly on the whole issue of inviting every child in the class to the birthday party? Gone are the days of inviting your friends/favourite people/people you want to impress. Now you must invite everyone, otherwise people’s feelings get hurt. I’m sorry, but birthday parties are our first foray into politics. We need birthday parties – they teach us valuable lessons on how the world works. We need to get our feelings hurt, because life can be one giant birthday party we’re not invited to. If we don’t suck it up early on, we never will.

I think I’m done. I need a cup of tea.