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BBC Lost East Presenter Susie Fowler-Watt talks children

PUBLISHED: 09:53 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 16:55 20 February 2013

BBC Lost East Presenter Susie Fowler-Watt talks children

BBC Lost East Presenter Susie Fowler-Watt talks children

BBC Look East presenter Susie Fowler-Watt wishes this country would embrace our little people like they do abroad, rather than just tolerating them.

Susie Fowler-Watt

BBC Look East presenter Susie Fowler-Watt wishes this country would embrace our little people like they do abroad, rather than just tolerating them.

The end of the summer is approaching, and now, when we look ahead, the view is of bare trees, short days and a seasonal surge in swine flu. Happy times! But lets not forget that summer brings its own trials and tribulations. Such as where, or whether, to go on holiday and how to keep the kids under control.

One of the things Alex and I love about holidaying abroad is that most other countries have a much more relaxed and welcoming attitude to little people. I remember taking Lola to Majorca when she was six months old. Not only was she welcomed in every restaurant, she was positively feted. However posh the place, however late the hour, there was never any tutting as we manoeuvred her buggy in between the tables, and if she dared to utter even the smallest cry, there was a queue of people wanting to give her a cuddle. The same thing happened when we went to Sri Lanka last year. It was low season, and Lola then three was often the only child at the places we stayed. But she was greeted with delighted smiles.

I think Britain is becoming more child friendly, but theres still a way to go. While we are lucky to have an increasing number of restaurants in Norfolk that welcomes youngsters, and have special kids menus, theres often that feeling that they are being tolerated rather than embraced.
It may be the sign that says Well-behaved children are welcome, or the surprise on the waiters face when you turn up for an evening meal with a toddler in tow. But, more often than not, its the reaction of other diners, who do not expect to have to share their restaurant with a bunch of people who dont sit still, get over-excited after ice cream and need to get out of their seats RIGHT NOW to go to the loo.

We were with friends in a family restaurant in Norwich the other day, having a meal at 5 oclock in the afternoon. There were three adults and three children, aged between one and five. I thought everyone was behaving quite well under the circumstances no food was being thrown, crayons were being shared and there was no running around. But occasionally the noise level exceeded what I thought comfortable, and, after telling the kids to keep it down a bit, I turned round with an apologetic smile to the couple sitting at the next table. Sorry about the noise! I said, more by way of friendliness than because I really felt I needed to. I was met by stony faces. Apparently it wasnt the noise that bothered the man, but the fact that one of the children kept pushing past the back of his chair. I was profusely apologetic, having not realised this, and said I would make sure it didnt happen again. But that was clearly not enough. The woman said they had children too, to which the man added, But they know how to behave in a restaurant. If we had been enjoying haute cuisine at a Michelin-starred establishment, I may have considered this a reasonable response. But we were in a burger bar on a Saturday afternoon.

The fact is that all parents have different attitudes to disciplining their offspring, but most of us try our best to balance our desire for them to behave impeccably with their desire to enjoy themselves. And its usually when theyre out of their normal environment, or somewhere exciting, that the balance is hardest.

My mother was worried last year that we were going on holiday for a few days with great friends. Holidaying together can put a strain on friendships, she warned. And in one way she was right, as Lola exhibited her less appealing side for most of our stay. The long, exciting days, followed by short, exciting sleepovers, led to her whingeing and tantruming her way through the entire holiday. Luckily our friends were sanguine about the whole thing and when they later went to stay with some other mutual friends, they reported back that their daughter had behaved exactly the same way.

So, as much as we adore our kids, and love those long summer days, I know quite a few parents who head into September with an iota of relief. Those leaves might start falling soon, we can feel that cold wind from the Urals returning, but that means schools back too!

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