The next person who smugly proclaims that the parents of the abducted infant Madeleine McCann or 'Maddy' as she is presumptuously being called by the press, are to blame is getting a sore face. The last time I checked the holiday resorts of Portugal were not war zones. It seems to me perfectly reasonable to leave a child in a nearby room to eat one's dinner in peace.
In truth, I really pity the modern child. I spent most of my childhood wishing my parents would get out my face. Yet by modern standards I was neglected, spending my summers wandering about 'the field' or down the park playing football with the lads. I was also fond of camping expeditions in various neighbours gardens. Similarly snowy winters were spent hurling snowballs and sledging down 'the cliff' (now a steep set of stairs in hideous Barratt scheme). Worse than that, around the age of eight I was deemed capable of walking to school alone and since six was only walked halfway.
To which some smartarse will no doubt hold me up as an example of the pitfalls of lax parenting. All I can say is that my parents aren't to blame for me, my brother has turned out well, I'm just a genetic throwback to some earlier horror. I am a mess of my own making and in that is my defence of a balanced approach. Better to be a disaster that takes responsibility for their own mistakes than one that needs babying well into adulthood. Taking a doing for a dirty tackle when mummy is too far away to run to is a good lesson in life. One that the X-Box ruined child who must be watched is being deprived of.
Strolling in the direction of the point. It seems clear to me that there is a choice before us. We can either succumb to the fear and paranoia or we can get on with the task of decent commonsense child rearing. That means letting them off the leash from time to time, not the harsh, judgemental, parental eyes scorching their skin 24 hours a day. From the moment we are conceived we are at risk of abortion, miscarriage, still birth, accident, fatal illness and murder. Let's just concentrate on making the time children have enjoyable, whatever moral and legal right to life they may have, human evil, brutality and perversity can appear at anytime. Better to jail the perpetrator after the act than stunt whole generation for their own good, on the off chance.
Failing that do not breed and get a cat. Or become a maiden aunt as I will be, God willing, from November.