It was a lovely place to have lunch, a view of the lake, sun shimmering on the water, Canadian geese parading on the bank, swans swimming, mallards preening. What a wonderful time of year.
Inside the restaurant, people ate their Saturday lunch. My friend and I marvelled at the fashions worn by younger women, admired the men they were with, handsome and well dressed in modern trend. It was good.
The place was crowded. We’d been lucky to get a seat by a window overlooking the grounds, where tables would only accommodate two people. Other parties had to sit in the middle. The table adjacent to ours was occupied by a party ... a family birthday celebration. We knew that because of the rousing chorus Happy Birthday. The party consisted of a very elderly lady known as Mummy, her husband, two sons and their wives, one granddaughter (university student) and a younger granddaughter, an obvious cousin, who looked to be about 8 or 9.
Because of their close proximity, my friend and I could hear every bit of their conversation, but one thing that struck me was that nobody spoke to the young girl. The child listened to conversations and smiled when appropriate but mostly she looked bored. Not really surprising with no communication! The rest of the gathering was quite animated yet not one person included the youngster or even looked her way, talking across her most of the time. In the two hours we were there we didn’t see anyone try to draw the girl into the occasion. She might as well not have been there ... or perhaps she was invisible to older folk! If ever there was a case of ‘speak when you’re spoken to’ this was it.
My heart went out to her when I saw her put her arms on the table and lean on them as if to say talk to me ‘cause I’m pretty fed up with being ignored.
Cruelty comes in many forms, it’s not necessary to use violence to maltreat kids. But it’s none of my business, is it?