GIOMC 03: Kids’ Clubs and Outspoken Parents

A couple of days ago, my attention was drawn to a shared article on Facebook by a guy I went to school with. The article in question, which can be accessed here, claims a mother holds intentions of suing travel giants Thomas Cook, after her daughter was allegedly ‘abducted’ from their Turkish hotel’s Kids Club. A brief background and personal speculation from a former travel prof regarding the article:

  1. The family stayed at the Royal Wings Hotel (5*) in Antalya (Lara Beach), Turkey. As well as a range of other facilities and entertainment, crucially, the hotel features a hotel-run kids’ club.
  2. The mum in question, Ms. Janet Alexander, posed for some questionably contemplative photos as shown in the article. Not so much distressed mother, more five-minutes-of-fame. Oh and the kids were not allowed to smile, obviously.
  3. Suing for a five-figure settlement.
  4. Incident sorted while in resort. Police called. But I bet she couldn’t wait to run back to the British press to tell the tale and apply the pressure onto the travel firm, of which she’s suing (not the hotel – remember the hotel’s kids’ club?) because they booked her on the holiday and of course knew prior to her travelling that there was a danger of her daughter apparently walking off with a stranger in a hijab because her daughter went on walks at preschool. Huh. Story also featured in The Sun and The Daily Star.

Hey – don’t look at me like that. Ms. Alexander bought the tea to the table, I’m simply going to drink it and possibly even belch.

Funnily enough, the story itself isn’t what I wanted to Get Off My Chest. Despite the smell of rotting tea bags. It was the comments from the person who shared the article on Facebook. He said something along the lines of, “This is why I would never leave my kid at a kids’ club.” Fine. “We go on holiday as a family, I want my child to experience everything I do, if I’m too lazy to leave them with other people then I shouldn’t deserve a holiday, parents who leave their kids at clubs don’t care about them, we don’t know where the strangers have been“, yada yada and yes, more yada.

Wow, boy. Let me tell you something. I metaphorically and pretty much literally crapped myself the first time we left our son at a kids’ club on our recent cruise. We were calling them every 15 minutes asking if he was okay, if he was asleep, if he had had a poo, if he was causing trouble, if he was distressed and confused and missing us, you get the jist. Right from the time we dropped him off, we were worried sick until we picked him up a mere ninety minutes later. To be completely blunt, there’s nowhere for a kid to be abducted on a ship apart from overboard, fair enough. Plus the security on P&O Cruises’ kids’ clubs is pretty much like visiting hour at Her Majesty’s finest (I’ve never been but I heard they get phones and drugs into those places so, well, hmm.). You ain’t getting through the door until you’ve been looked at by a member of staff. So I can’t really compare my experience to that of Alexander’s – I’ve never been to the Royal Wings. (My friend has – four year old kid in tow, at the kids’ club – but still.)

What I’m trying to say is this: I can bet it’s not an easy or non-daunting experience for most parents to leave their children in the hands of ‘strangers’, of course not. It does make it a whole lot easier when you’re introduced to British-educated staff who adhere to British standards of childcare (who can’t even get into the job without three years’ childcare experience) beforehand, yes, shown around and talked through emergency and safety procedures before your child even steps foot inside, of course, along with the option to stay with them if you really prefer (though this comes with safeguarding due to concerns from other parents). If your kids’ club doesn’t denote the above then of course, stay away. I would. I chose to let my child attend because he wanted to. There’s a reason why most kids’ clubs at hotel resorts do not even consider solo attendance under the age of four: they don’t know right from wrong yet, at least not in the face of potential danger. Ms. Alexander allegedly took her five-year old to kids’ club because her older daughter wanted to part-take in a scuba lesson, of which the younger child understandably wouldn’t have wanted to attend.

Don’t sit there and tell me a parent is in any way irresponsible or lazy if the kids’ club can potentially improve the holiday for the whole family. My child made friends both his age and older, his speech improved vastly (he’s 2), he had soft play, colouring, films, trains, cars, etc. etc. to entertain him which were featured nowhere else on the ship. He was amused while we ate in peace, yes I said it, around other diners. Most importantly, we wanted to see what he would be like when left for nursery in September. Safe to say, we’re not worried about that. He asked to go back ‘to play with the children’ every single day, twice a day. (On the one occasion he didn’t want to go, we didn’t take him.)

I’ve seen similar outspoken thoughts from the same person before, who said that being a parent is a blessing (yep), and that parents had no right to moan or complain (erm), that it is ultimately a parents’ choice to bring a baby into the world (questionable), how dare they complain of being tired or do anything other than worship their family (I’ve called my son a demon before, is that a social services sitchu, or?).

I’m not about to criticise their parenting as they clearly do to others, but I will say this: while I sneered at the article about the abducted child and yes, it was Ms. Alexander’s choice completely to take that to the media, that doesn’t make it anyone’s place to suggest that what other parents are doing is wrong. Unless, of course, the child is in obvious danger. I could sit here and say I’ve never seen you go on holiday – I mean that sort of puts you at a twisted little disadvantage – so how can you even comment? I could also sit here and say I don’t, and have never, picked up my son every time he’s cried, whether to toughen him up (yep, I’m one of those I’m afraid) or if he’s trying to play us for fools (toddlers do, they absolutely do). One thing I won’t do is sit here and criticise other parents; this is hard, it’s not a bloody walk in the park and sure, there are people who cannot have kids, but that doesn’t take away our rights to experience and let go of negative emotions too. If my kid likes kids’ club, you can’t make me feel bad about that. Do I want a cocktail in peace? Yes, I bloody well do. Will I sacrifice it if my son doesn’t feel up to play with the children? You’re damn right I will and I’ll lay with him if that’s all he wants to do.

Pop yourself out of your little bubble and stop pretending you’re the best parent in the world. We’re literally all winging it.



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