Madeleine McCann disappeared just over three years ago. She was just about to turn four years old when this happened, and every time I see her face in the news I feel like crying. To be on the safe side, I also want to glue my kids to my hands so this will never happen to them.
Unfortunately we all know what could have been done to prevent Madeleine’s disappearance – and so do her parents – which is why it must be an eternal nightmare for them to regret having left their children alone in the (unlocked!) hotel room in the south of Portugal whilst they had supper with friends some hundred meters away.
Initially I thought this was an out of the ordinary practice no parent would even consider. However, in the wake of Madeleine’s disappearance I discovered that lots of my friends had indeed left their children unattended in similar circumstances. And to my huge surprise, they say to this day that they will continue to do so.
Madeleine McCann was THREE years old, her twin siblings were even younger. We are talking about three very young children who were left to their own devices. No baby call was used, and the parents did not make use of the local nanny services offered by the hotel, but decided they would check on the kids themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. I can totally relate to the parents’ desire to sit down and enjoy supper with friends without having to attend to moaning/tired/demanding children. But in this case the price they had to pay for an adult meal was insanely high. I feel for them profoundly, and hope they manage to find some trace of normality in their lives.
Meanwhile I can say with certainty that I will continue to endure noisy and sometimes exhausting restaurant meals with my little ones. When we go on holiday we try to get a hotel/apartment with a terrace where we can open a bottle of wine and gaze up at the stars whilst the little ones are in bed. Luckily we are based in the south of Spain, where kids are ALWAYS welcomed where ever we go. Here, it is considered a foreign thing to leave your kids behind. Quite literally, it is something foreigners do. Children are included in all aspects of socialising – be it weddings (you’ll never get a wedding invitation that says ‘adults only’), fairs, festivals and yes, late night dining.