An Open Letter to Pagan Parents
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Article ID: 13143
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,808
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Author: Lupa [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: February 15th. 2009
Times Viewed: 4,501
Dear Pagan Parents,
First off, a caveat—this may or may not concern you. In the event that you and/or your children genuinely do not resemble this letter, please be assured that this is a much-appreciated fact. However, in the interest of brevity, there shall be generalizations galore. The management (i.e., me) regrets any inconvenience this may cause.
It’s Imbolc as I’m writing this, and that means the festival season is beginning to gear up; in a few months there’ll be plenty of great events going on with pagans of all sorts in attendance. This also means that there’ll be pagans of all ages, including assorted kidlets, roaming the grounds and buildings in these temporary autonomous zones. Which, in and of itself, can be a wonderful experience for everyone involved.
There shall also be vendors offering various shiny objects for sale. Some of these will be handmade; others mass-produced. All are aimed at pulling a profit, usually, though not always, to the benefit of the vendors themselves. This means that a good deal of a vendor’s time at a festival will be spent in efforts to make money to pay for various costs and, quite often, put food on the table.
Before we move on, you may safely consider me a vendor. You may not, however, consider me a pagan parent. Just so you know.
I am not, however, a babysitter.
Let me repeat that. I am not a babysitter. I am here to sell stuff (and otherwise enjoy my time at this event, surrounded by like-minded folks) . I am not here to watch your progeny.
My booth does not exist as a place of entertainment for your children. I do not sell toys or games. I sell books, and I sell artwork I’ve put a lot of time and effort into, some of which is quite delicate. When these items are on my tables, still in my possession because no one has yet bought them from me, they do not serve the purpose of giving your children something to do, and I did not pay anywhere from $30 to $200 or more to come here to entertain them.
Okay, admittedly, some of the things I make are attractive to curious minds and hands. A lot of my artwork is made of fur, leather, and bones, all things, which are wonderfully tactile and fun to handle, apart from any spiritual significance. I tend to get more “Ewwwww!” reactions from adults than children; the latter seem to have a general tendency towards “Oooooo, cooool!” (Or some variant thereof) . So, really, I get that it can be hard to resist picking up the pretty, soft fur pouch or the bone bead necklace. I don’t mind them being handled—carefully. Unfortunately, many children (and occasionally adults) can be a little…hmm…over-enthusiastic about it.
However, I would like to remind you that it takes time to set up a booth. Too many times I’ve had a pack of children ramble through, picking things up and dropping them back on the tables indiscriminately, and had to spend a good deal of time rearranging things once they left. (To be fair, some adults do this, too—for which they get no thanks from me. But it’s more often children.)
And things get damaged on occasion. Sometimes it’s something simple, like a broken drawstring on a pouch. But sometimes it’s more…well…expensive. Break the tip off a handmade bone athame (which they really oughtn’t be handling in the first place) , and I may have to scrap the entire thing if the blade can’t be reshaped. Unless I see who did it, I’m basically at a loss, financially and time-wise. (Again, it’s not just kids who are at fault, but less developed motor skills lead to greater potential for inadvertent destruction.)
Let’s not get into the occasional bout of shoplifting by people of any age; that should be self-explanatory.
Finally, I’m not there to answer twenty questions from your children. If they’re bored, I don’t want them hanging around me for something to do. (I’m childfree for a number of reasons, by the way.) I did not come to this festival to have them yammering incessantly at me, or coming back five minutes after I ask them to leave. (I get tired of adults who drone on about things I care nothing about, too, just for the record. I don’t want a detailed history of your past lives or your last festival hookup, thanks.)
In short: your children are not my responsibility. I can’t keep an eye on them every moment they’re in my booth, especially if they show up in a group. I’ve tried asking them to not touch things. I’ve tried telling them not to come in without parents. I’ve tried hanging a sign saying unattended children aren’t allowed. None of it is nearly as effective as your ability to parent.
What does this entail?
--Keep an eye on your kids at festivals. It’s a good idea in general. While we’d like to think that these are safe spaces, this is not necessarily the case. Apart from potential human predators, there are both natural and manmade things that can cause injury/etc.
--Teach your children to not go into vendor tents without you. It’s your responsibility to keep an eye on what they’re doing, what they’re picking up and fussing with.
--Teach them the “two finger rule”—they can only touch items for sale, gently, with two fingers. No picking them up and putting them down (or dropping them) . If it’s something they’re going to buy, that’s a different story, of course.
--Give them things to do besides annoying the vendors. If they’re bored, it’s your responsibility to help them find constructive activities, rather than just letting them run wild. You know your kids better than I do. You know better what will keep them effectively entertained. While I get annoyed at bored kids coming in and messing with things they aren’t going to buy, I also feel bad for them for being taken to a place where they are bored in the first place.
Realistically, I realize you don’t have a personal satellite to help you watch your children every single moment. However, teaching them proper manners when in vendors’ row will go a long way in reducing everyone’s stress. That way even if they do show up unattended, there’s less of a chance of inciting the wrath of a vendor scorned (or something to that effect) .
And sure, there are most likely vendors who don’t care as much about their stuff getting handled and tossed about as I do. That doesn’t mean that my concerns aren’t valid. But I’ve tried shooing annoying kids out. I’ve tried putting up signs informing parents that I don’t want unattended children in my booth. And I’ve spent entirely too much time resorting (and occasionally repairing) things that I’ve put a lot of time, effort, and finances into making and arranging.
So please, this festival season (and preferably subsequent ones as well) , keep these things in mind. I and other vendors will appreciate it.
Copyright: Copyright Lupa, 2009. Please do not cut and paste; link to this page instead.
Location: Portland, Oregon
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lupa - Click HERE
Bio: Lupa is a pagan and neoshaman living in Portland with her husband, Taylor, their cats Sun Ce and Ember, and lots of books and art supplies. Lupa writes books about various pagan-ish topics, makes artwork out of assorted materials, and is currently immersed in graduate school. You can find her online at http://www.thegreenwolf.com and http://therioshamanism.com , among other places.
Other Articles: Lupa has posted 25 additional articles- View them?
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