“This area is ours, go away!”
“And he who has said that it is yours, you are not the masters here”
“We were there first, so let it go, girls!”
“Shall we solve it with a challenge?”
“But I’m cracking your face!”
“Calm down with words, she’s my friend”
“Friend or not, you are a leader of c …”
Clashes between gangsters? Scenes from a detective story? No. The main characters of the stage are not yet ten years old, and everything takes place in a club a few kilometers from Milan. One of those where children can find “large equipped spaces exclusively dedicated to them”. Places that have reassuring names, such as “The Kingdom of the Finns” or “Dumbo’s Company”, but which sometimes turn out to be real incubators for little hooligans. Dozens of kids play with each other, while dozens of parents indulge in a hamburger and an ice-cold beer. Closing parties, birthdays, gatherings in sports clubs: the apartment does not count. The crucial thing is that the restaurant welcomes several events, several tables at the same time, and that the division between adults and children is often clear. Too clear. The children are in groups, in teams that can collide for vain reasons: an occupied football field, for example, as in the scene described above. But the spark can come from a thousand sources: rivalry between schools (mine has a bigger gym than yours), football games, possession of an area with rubber boats, a misinterpreted phrase. And if the more educated try to solve the problem civilly, as always in life, those who shout the loudest will win. Is it the restaurateurs’ fault? Definitely no, they do nothing but their job: soulless servants trying to take orders with a set of voices that exceed any tolerable decibel threshold, chefs who can barely keep up with a relentless array of orders.
Is it the children’s fault? Obviously not. Children are children, running and playing is their job, arguing is not obvious, but they can not educate themselves. The parents’ fault? Although at present it seems that it is always the fault of this category, it may not be in this case. Even mom and dad have the right to relax and chat a bit with their “fellow human beings”. Still, restaurateurs were able to organize seats and reservations in a more rational way, avoiding overlapping too many tables at the same time and crowding too many children in the play areas. And on the other hand, parents need to be aware that their attitude can be crucial: the little ones are left alone, and while the adults enjoy a well-deserved dinner (or a well-deserved aperitif), they play. Sometimes with a little too much violence. Sometimes without too much respect for the rules. And sometimes, yes, almost always, they make a package. Own flock: the dynamics of the groups of young people who are frightening who can harm others and themselves may begin to be defined in previous years. But that is not enough. The kids make too much noise and the attendant intervenes to call back? Insults and bad words also to the companion. For even the adults are not spared when the flock is created.
Alone, without control or confrontation with the world of adults, children feel that they are masters at doing what they want. So too at the table: separate tables, parents on the one hand, children on the other, can be transformed from an opportunity to socialize to an opportunity to develop bad manners. Tossed potato chips, overturned drinks, sideboards, a whole sample of rudeness that children will inevitably reproduce on other occasions: If children only go to places where they can do what they want, they will never learn to behave in normal restaurants. The result is inevitable that the first night in a pizzeria that is not equipped with a playground, balls and courts, the little ones start running between the tables as they are used to. Perhaps the blame, after all, is a little on everyone, in a society where there is a flag of inclusiveness and tolerance, but which excludes children who are all too often seen as something different from being kept separate. Logically, parental guidance is the most important and must never be lacking: psychologists point out that adults are always busy and tend to delegate the teaching of their children to school, sports clubs, music courses and more. , and that children tend to recognize the flock of friends as family.
But the task of mother and father is made even more difficult by a society that does not want children: noisy, dirty, annoying. In the shops they are looked at with suspicion, in the train they disturb, in the restaurant it is better not to let them in. Or at least keep them separate. A separation that is also reflected in the range of dishes dedicated to them: why should the children’s menu at a family restaurant consist exclusively of chicken nuggets, burgers and hot dogs? Why do even the restaurants that take care of the offer for adults reduce the menu for children to ham and fritters? There are kids who love meat and kids who love fish, kids who want to taste stewed mussels by the sea and kids who can not resist a vegetable dip. Here, at the table as in the afternoon, we should regain the sense of individuality of the little ones so that when they grow up, they know how to choose from a menu or a group of friends what is best for them.