I like to portray myself as a grumpy old bastard. Even though I say so myself, I think I've done a pretty good job. Possibly because that's my true character. But there's one point on which I deviate from my crusty manifesto: children in pubs.
My kids were pub regulars before they could walk. Mostly in Bedier, a pub next to the sixth most dangerous road junction in Holland. But I'd take them into town to Belgique and Wildeman, too. I won't pretend that there weren't some hairy moments. Andrew had a habit of running off down Nieuwedijk if I didn't keep a close eye on him. And Lexie, well, was Lexie. He's inherited my psychopathic streak.
Now I'm reaping the benefit of getting the kids accustomed to pubs early. They sit there nicely and, if they get fed up, fiddle with one of their many electronic devices. Or say "Dad, I'm bored. Can we go home now?" Which is fair enough. But I can usually get 1.5 to 2 hours boozing time. More than enough, even for a pisshead like me.
Of course, the British way is much better. Confine kids in the beer garden with a bottle of pop and a bag of crisps until they're 18 (or 16, to be more realistic). Drop adolescents right into adult life - and alcohol consumption - cold. Just like they used to throw kids into the river to teach them to swim. Yes, Europe has much to learn from Britain.
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