x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

At the salon - where eight-year-olds act like princesses

The sense of entitlement I witnessed was amazing - even from the adults

Like three princesses, they sat ready to be served: hair perfectly set, one was in a pink dress, another in a lilac one and the third in a peach coloured skirt and white shirt. They looked to be between 10 and 12, and the youngest one's hair was held in place by cute Hello Kitty clips (which I made a mental note to search for, since I am a big fan of the franchise).

These girls, seated in a row, looked so innocent and adorable. That is, until they opened their mouths.

"I want a good massage, you understand? Not a light one. I want my nails to be beautiful and if I feel any pain, I am telling the manager," said the one in lilac.

When she was done the other two started barking orders at the staff inside the ladies' spa.

I was sitting on a chair nearby. I had popped into the place after a long week of working and typing, which always leaves me with a stiff neck and painful shoulders. And when my therapist saw my look of disgust at the girls' behaviour she said: "These are the young ones. You have to see and listen to the older ones."

It turns out I was wrong about their ages; they were between six and eight. They had a bit of make-up on, and since it has been a while since I was eight - a time when I would carry a doll around or be outside running around - I assumed they were older based on their behaviour.

I'll get to the rude behaviour in a moment. First, I must ask: why would a child need a massage? Sure, young girls want to copy their mothers and put on nail polish and make-up, but when do children get to be children?

I was a messy kid, always running around, climbing, digging, doing something active and imaginative. I never stepped into a spa during my childhood, and my mother rarely did. She was simply too busy and would not spend much time on herself. She raised three children with no nanny, took care of the house without a maid, and somehow managed to cook feasts and entertain guests.

Of course, both my parents deserved to be pampered. They sacrificed for their children, and didn't take care of themselves. As a result, today they are ill and tired. Perhaps getting massages and spoiling oneself from time to time is a good thing.

But those three little princesses were, in my opinion, starting too early. They had mobile phones, and they kept whining about one or the other. Their presence ruined "the ambience" for many of us adults coming from a stressful day.

We all at some point take the luxuries we have in life for granted. I just have to remember some of the refugee kids I visited throughout my career, their sufferings and their desperation for the simplest of things like pencils and comic books , and it humbles me.

I used to kick a fuss whenever my mother forced me to finish my plate, pinching my ear while telling me about the kids around the world dying from starvation.

Different generations have different experiences, and of course, each generation are nostalgic about their childhood and remember it as a simpler and more innocent time.

It all goes back to the parents. A child will always copy adults, and it is up to parents to set parameters and lead by example. Rude young brats typically are only emulating adults in their lives.

I have seen fathers take their sons in sports cars and even allow their 12-year-old - if not younger - sons to drive. Then there are children who are losing their native language and identity as they are brought up by nannies.

Not all of these developments are bad. Children today are more educated and have access to limitless piles of information, thanks to the internet. The effect of today's modern world and globalisation of cultures and expectations are endless.

As I left my massage that day I saw the girls' mothers. They were coming out from the facials section. I realised the girls were miniature copies of their mothers, and within minutes, the mothers were complaining, too. I heard one cursing her maid, and the other command a staff to go check on her daughter.

Like mother like daughter. For better or worse.



On Twitter: @arabianmau