I have a confession to make: I’m one of those bloody mothers who takes her bloody children to cafes.
And my maternal transgressions are not insignificant.
My crimes against civilised dining include: wedging my pram between tables; ruining the tasteful minimalist decor with my maximalist nappy bag and allowing my daughter to deface the paper serviettes with crayon. I’ve even had the audacity to waste the time of the barista by ordering a babycino.
The worst of it is that on occasion my children act like, well, children. When my daughter was two — and I kid you not — she had the table manners of a two year old.
I don’t know whether to laugh hysterically or sob in despair at the current proclamations — triggered late last week by a Facebook post from the owner of a café in Newcastle — that only well-behaved children should be allowed in cafes.
Some hardliners are even suggesting that misbehaving children should be restricted to public spaces designed specifically for children. According to some commentators, it’s about compensating for middle class mother guilt and the fact that Australians don’t know how to raise civilised children.
We’re told that in other countries — notably France — children don’t have tantrums in public. No, not a one. Apparently they’re born with impulse control and Michelin star table manners.
But despite the focus on children, the debate is actually about mothers — she who is too incompetent, indulgent or inconsiderate to control her child’s behaviour.