I pride myself in having exposed my child to the world of art and culture our local art gallery. Albeit entirely against his will, and almost entirely forgotten but for the delicious croissants served in the member’s lounge.
I also pride myself in not having had a wild jungle freak tearing art from the walls, fingering Rodin’s Adam, or running his own stroller NASCAR style around the galleries.
Please, I beg of you urbanite, let-them-explore-so-I-can-continue-to-be-a-child-and-buck-the-social-burden-of-parenting, keep your little monsters at home. Unless of course you’ve grown up yourself, and use the outing to teach etiquette and behaviour standards.
Today at The AGO’s Patti Smith, Camera Solo exhibit I had the good fortune of practicing patience and peace. Oblivion-feigning parents (because no one is that stupid) whose children were walking on the lounges, moving the art on the walls, and racing around the gallery granted me a choice; I could either wallop the turds and tune them in about their ill-behaved selves and offspring, or I could take in the exhibit quietly, serenely, breathing deeply and being thankful that I have access to such wonderful art.
I chose the latter, simply because prison orange is not my colour.
In all deep spiritual practice, children are welcomed as a valuable part of the community. So, it leaves me wondering when I’m at a gallery or performance, just what side of the thick grey line do I take when parents (I don’t blame the children), do not respect the space (aural, visual and tactile) of other patrons?
I chose today to attend the local art gallery because tomorrow, Family Day, has been advertised by the gallery as a day to bring in children. I’d rather guzzle a bottle of Absinthe and run the sub-zero streets naked, than dodge bored, whining, sometimes screeching, un-supervised children thank you very much.
Admittedly, it is my generation of parents who’ve got it all wrong. If you’ve committed to children, you’ve sacrificed your ‘cool’ quotient. Parenting is not cool, it is sincere work and bonding. Your children deserve parents who teach manners, get real about what is kid appropriate and what is not.
A children’s museum is kid appropriate. A dinosaur exhibit is appropriate. Watching airplanes take off and land is appropriate. Patti Smith??? Not so much inappropriate as dull as shit for toddlers and babies. Hell, some adults would be whining and picking at your sweater to get out.
I see parents still spoon-feeding their four-year olds, laughing at the little buggers when they press their fingers against centuries old paintings, and letting them run like wild rabbits in places where the only excuse for running or loud talking is if there’s a fire or gun-wielding maniac.
My generation needs to grow up and parent children to become the kind of human beings that other human beings want to share the planet with.
A word to the wise; be sure to visit the Camera Solo exhibit on a weekday to avoid sitting on a muddy lounge, or getting your shins scraped by, toddler-driven strollers.