You would need to speak to my now grown up children for some kind of testimonial about my parenting skills.

I’m not really the person to judge just how good or bad I was as a dad.

I’d like to think I got most things right but I’m also pretty sure I got some things wrong.

The trouble is being a parent doesn’t come with a one-size-fits-all handbook.

Some things that worked with my daughter patently didn’t work with my son.

You make decisions as you go along and hope they are in the best interests of your children.

And of course, things change and what is expected of parents and children changes as well over time and over generations.

I only have to go back 50 years or so to be reminded of one of my gran’s favourite sayings: ‘children should be like the paintings on the wall – seen but not heard’.

The thing is, she said that without any sense of irony or humour.
Not only did she mean it, I think it was quite representative of her generation.

It seems to me these days it’s the old who are now the silent (and largely ignored) minority while it’s the young who are feted and hold sway.

What do we make then, of that journey back in time known as Knutsford Royal May Day where the old order is neatly restored on an annual basis.

According to the Royal May Day website: “Knutsford Royal May Day is the highlight of the town’s calendar and takes place every year on the first Saturday in May.

“The procession through the town and the crowning of the May Queen began in 1864 by the Vicar of Knutsford, the Rev Robert Clowes.

“The prefix ‘Royal’ was bestowed on the event in 1887 by their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, then Prince and Princess of Wales. 

“Knutsford remains exceedingly proud of its Royal title.”

So there we have it. Knutsford is proud of its May Day. But make no mistake, it’s the grown-ups who are in charge and the children are there to be seen and not heard.

This situation patently did not please one mother of a prospective May Day participant who failed to get through the selection process.

This is an edited version of what she wrote in the Knutsford Guardian last week:

I sat in a room this evening and had to check the year, surely it was pre-1928, the year before all women got the vote, before we lived in a world of equal opportunities, equal pay, female prime ministers?

But no, this was in fact 2018, and this was May Day selection evening. 

Before this evening, as parents, we had spoken to our nine-year-old daughter about the ‘process’ and what we knew of it.

We were both in our heart of hearts against her going, but she was adamant and wanted to off we went. 

I sat and watched my amazing, funny, hugely clever, athletic, adventurous, vivacious daughter walk around in front of strangers who only knew her by the number she held up. 

They then, without speaking to these girls, selected a handful of them, based on...well from what I could see, walking and smiling.

My daughter was inconsolable this evening, my heart broke for her. 

Life can be unfair, and yes we have to learn to take rejection in all forms  but rejection and selection age nine, based on looks and walking has no place in our modern society. 

What does that say about our town?

If you’ve been around as long as I have, you will know this is a familiar refrain.

Every couple of years or so, parents new to the selection process make the same complaint.

I suppose the organisers would argue the prospective participants are judged on walking and smiling because that’s what they are expected to do on the big day.

Nevertheless, it feels very anachronistic and more than a little uncomfortable in the current climate.

If we must still have Royal May Day – and I accept it brings a lot of pleasure to a lot of people – surely there is a better, fairer way to select those who take part.

And yet here we are – 2018 and still children are prepared to be judged in this way and still parents are prepared to let them be judged.

I don’t want to trample all over Knutsford’s much-loved traditions – after all, it is the ‘highlight' of the town’s calendar – but something just doesn’t feel right to me.

If you are a parent of a Knutsford child, you have a stark choice to make: disappoint your child by not letting them go for selection or deal with their disappointment if they don’t make the cut.

Perhaps having to make those kinds of decisions is what being a parent is all about and who am I to judge?