A parent who I knew through school, thought I should be reported to Social Services, when she heard I was going to Glastonbury with my children. I thought this was a tad overreacting, but also thought it quite amusing, as at the time, I was working as part of a multi agency team thing and knew several of the Social Services members of the team, were also going to be at Glastonbury with their children.
You might think the very idea of taking your offspring to a music festival is something to be avoided at all costs, but you’d be wrong. There are valuable life skills to be learnt, as well as a fun time to be enjoyed. When they reach their late teens, early twenties and head off with their wellies, pop up tent and glittery fairy wings, you’ll be glad you provided them with their first, sheltered experiences of how to cope in the muddy, inebriated, hygienically challenged environment that is a music festival.
My offspring have always loved being at Glastonbury. Sadly not for the music, which we as parents, had to barter time with them to see groups etc. There is so much for children to see and do on site, my offspring would have happily spent everyday in the Kids Field if they could. The site is very well organised and even with 3 children to supervise, I never felt unsafe during any of our time at Glastonbury. We always camped in the family field, even though we actually came with a group, who camped elsewhere. This isn’t because I’m of an unsociable disposition really, but because we were the only ones with children. They all planned on staying up drinking till 3 or 4 in the morning, I had a delightful offspring, who loved to pull my eyelids apart most mornings at 5am, to enquire if I was awake.
Glastonbury is busy and crowded, but there are plenty of staff and police about and its always seemed to us, as a child friendly place. Our offspring wore contact details at all times in case they got lost, we also discussed with them every time we went somewhere, what to do if we got seperated. As its divided into areas, this made it easier to decided on a meeting place each time.
Going to a music festival is one of the things I have on my list, of essential things to do with your offspring before they leave the nest. There are so many opportunities for learning life skills needed in adulthood, it would be a shame to miss them.
Alcohol: They can learn that people behave strangely when alcohol is involved. Their uncle even gave them money to buy ice cream, when we passed his merry self at one point. Offspring were flabbergasted, as apart from presenting them with a picture of the queen, at birthday and Christmas time, he’d never felt the urge to pass them some cash before. ( In case you are starting to think they have a mean uncle, I must add in his defence, that I had my offspring in my 20′s and he’s my younger brother. So not quite into the Werther’s originals mode yet).
Food: Preparing them for the day when they will be making decisions for themselves, you will be able to show them the wide variety of food available, so that they can still eat reasonable well. Plus the essential information that food isn’t an unnecessary waste of good drinking money, but crucial in preventing you getting drunk, acting stupid and vomiting. All of which examples can be found at most music festivals and gives you the opportunity to pass on your words of wisdom, to your offspring, in regards to eating wisely.
Tent pitching: When the rains come, as they will inevitably do at a music festival, they provide you with a valuable opportunity to teach your offspring survival skills. If the sight of flooded tents, personal possessions and the contents of the porta loos, bobbing about in a sea of muddy water, doesn’t inspire your offspring to pitch sensibly in the future, then they deserve the turd enhanced, watery awaking, that might be waiting for them one day. You’ve done your best to show them the dangers. The rain creates mud, giving you another chance, to emphasise the effects copious amount of alcohol have on common sense, as you watch people frolic in the mud.
Suncream: Mine learnt that suncream is important and not just a chance for me to get a good spot of nagging in. Plenty of lobster red examples on display, when the sun shone. Lots of comedy elements such as red faces/white eyes, criss cross straps and for the drunk who fell asleep in the sun, the square shape on his back, kindly shaded by his friends.
Washing: My offspring know they can attend a weekend festival, without having to join the ranks of the great unwashed. We brought a large, plastic storage box with us. Using it pit man style and with water rations reminiscent of the 2nd World War, we all had a bath morning and evening. One of the year’s we attended Glastonbury, was when there was the really heavy storms, with torrential rain during the night. It had wrecked havoc on site, but the next day the sun was shining and my offspring looked as though they were starring in a washing powder ad. Squeaky clean, with their freshly washed hair gleaming, my daughters strode, in bright white t shirts and pale pastel shorts, amongst the dishevelled individuals in this land of dirt and grubbiness. ( Plus the large storage box, was very handy for transporting things back to the mini bus.)
Toilets: There are skills you need to pass on to your offspring, that you are never sure when they might need, but are handy to have. The art of squatting is such a skill, invaluable on long walks, where there is a risk of nettle and bottom contact, public loos and holidays to remote destinations. My offspring honed their skills in the Glastonbury loos, where the words “Don’t touch anything” were never far from my lips and we nearly always trekked back to the family field facilities, as they weren’t too bad and cleaned regularly.
Sex, drugs and personal safety: Part of being a parent is to prepare your child to be an adult. Topics of conversation about alcohol, drug taking, personal safety, sex and STD’s are easier to broach with your offspring as part of a chat, not as a lecture. The nearest they got to any drugs at Glastonbury, was probably the Calpol packets I’d brought, but being there, did provide us with the chance to talk about such issues. Going to Glastonbury from a young age, didn’t corrupt them but gave them the chance to learn they could ask any questions and expect an honest answer.
Street cred: Now they are teens, they appreciated the music element of going to a music festival. They impress friends with the fact they’ve been to Glastonbury and seen such and such. Strangely they never mention the fact they moaned every time we wanted them to leave the kids field, to see a group or artist. I remember having to watch Bodger and Badger, when I really wanted to be watching the Pyramid stage instead, but as a parent you have to compromise, often. They have seen some very famous artists over the years, some they enjoyed, dancing along to the music. Others they ignored and played with toys or read books as they performed. Eldest is really embarrassed by the fact she sat in a chair, with her back to the stage and read through the entire concert, of a group she really loves now she’s older.
Ask them for a memory of Glastonbury and my offspring always reply, ‘drinking hot chocolate and eating warm doughnuts’.