39 Days of Rules

Image Courtesy Unsplash

Image Courtesy Unsplash

Okay so the title is a stretch, and this is probably a mild overreaction on my part, but I was recently alerted to the new "festival etiquette" for our local 39 Days of July summer festival and I am so disappointed.

And I am not alone. An opinion piece posted by the Cowichan Valley Citizen has many parents disappointed and in fear of attending because of the potential judgement of their young child’s behaviour.

Page 8 and 9 of the festival programme are dedicated to “parentsplaining” and I'm just not down with it. To be fair, most of the rules outlined in these pages make perfect sense. Children should not be climbing on the Cenotaph, it is disrespectful. In all fairness people may simply not be aware of the significance of this piece or the general etiquette around it. Perhaps posting a small sign or quietly mentioning this to the "offenders" is a helpful approach.

And children absolutely shouldn't be playing backstage amongst electrical cords. This is a given. Ribboning off the area might be the solution here, to ensure adequate space and respect for artists on board.

But the rule that leaves a bad taste in my mouth is one that states that the grassy area in front of the stage, often used for dancing, should not be used by children. Apparently it is not "cute" and steals the "thunder" from the artists.

Wait. Wait a minute. You consider this a family friendly event. You allow dancing at this event. But children are not permitted to dance?

Oh but guess what parents? Don't worry, they are putting up a tent with toys for your children to play in. So instead of enjoying the music, like you took your children to the park to do, your children get to play with, you guessed it, toys!

I assume the expectation is that we sit in the tent of shame with our children? Or do we get to sit down and enjoy the music while our children scream, dog pile each other and run out onto either of the roads directly bordering the park. What could go wrong?

And the argument that our children would rather be in a kids tent playing with toys instead of watching live music doesn't work on me. I don't bring my iPad to the beach. But if I did, given the choice, my son would definitely choose to watch it instead of catching crabs at least 50% of the time.

I bring him to the beach to explore the outdoors. I bring him to a live music concert to develop his love and understanding of music.

The children's tent is a nice touch, for those who prefer to use it. I do believe it is a nice addition to the venue and will be utilized by many. I should clarify my beef is not with the tent itself, it is with the intention that children use it instead of being out with the general public.

Because children are people. It is our job as parents to teach them how to act in public and we cannot do that if we cordon them off in their own area all of the time.

Image Adapted From 39 Days Of July Programme

Image Adapted From 39 Days Of July Programme

So here is what I request. 39 Days of July organizers, please re-evaluate your plan to manage child behaviour at your concert. Perhaps simply placing a sign on the stage that requests no dancing when it is not appropriate or requested by the artist.

Quietly request to the parents of children being a true nuisance that they move to the children's tent.

Re-word the etiquette to be more clear. If children are indeed encouraged to dance in that area (and just not play) it needs to be far more clear than it currently is.

Or stop marketing the event as a family friendly event. Request that families attend on specific days such as the Children's Day or Celebrating Youth and Music day. Make the other days adult only events.

Please, please don't discriminate against children. Personally I find a two year old twirling, swaying, and jumping around far less distracting than watching Nancy and Jim cut a rug, re-living their LSD and mushroom filled summers of years past. But guess what? I can just ignore it. Because Nance has every right to be out there showing that grass who’s boss and so does my toddler.

Kristy Symes