Should children be seen and not heard?

Do you have a small child?  Then it is without doubt the cutest thing that ever graced the earth… in your opinion.

The thing is – and there’s no easy way to say this so I’ll just come out with it – other people probably don’t find your child as endearing as you do.

Hard to believe, I know.  Fact, nevertheless.

Some friends came over recently for Sunday lunch.  As we all sat at the table, they asked how my work was going.  Well, since they asked, I had a rather amusing anecdote to tell…

Only I’d barely started when their six year old daughter – let’s call her Molly – looked me straight in the eye and announced in piping tones that she could count to ten in French.

‘Really?’ I replied.  ‘Clever you.  Anyway, as I was saying about this thing at work…’

But I’d already lost my audience.

‘You got a sticker from Madame Blanche, didn’t you?’ said the mother, gazing dewy-eyed at little Molly.

‘Please can we hear you do that, Molly?’ said the father, head on one side, bowled over by the sheer amazingness of his child.

I know when I’m beaten.  ‘Yes,’ I sighed.  ‘Do let us hear how talented you are, Molly.’

So she did.  And then she sang Frère Jacques and then she recited one of the poems she’d been reading with Daddy at bedtime.  She chattered and performed for the next three hours solid, in fact, her parents melting with adoration, until we finally got rid of them.

My anecdote – and it really was going to be very funny – never did see the light of day.

I’m all for children being seen and heard but, come on, isn’t there a time and a place?

Save the performances for the grandparents.  At a push, the aunts and uncles.  They’re probably as besotted as you are.  The rest of the world, I’m sorry to say, isn’t.

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