Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Activism and Angst
No-one has ever yet written "The Guide to Perfect Parenting", in principal because the perfect parent doesn't exist. Babies don't come with a Haynes manual which tells you what to do in the event of an unplanned exhaust leak which escapes the utilised protection and slowly makes it's way down the legs of your trolley and onto the floor of Asda. Or what to do when they work themselves up into such a state of temper that they bang their heads in tune to the over priced soothing baby lullaby CD you just purchased. There's no trouble shooting flow chart or help desk. Instinctively, you just know, and with that knowledge comes a solution, tailor made to every diazepam inducing incident.
But while we can all meet once a week and bitch (sorry, empathise) over coffee about our little darlings and their latest attempts to have us sectioned, in my experience it's the same subjects which arise for discussion over and over, 'Is my child showing the first signs of psychosis ?', or 'Why do they behave for every other fecker but me ?' One subject very worthy of discussion has yet to come up in our group, and it is simply this - how to instil a sense of social justice in your child. Of course, they will form their own core values and belief system, but children can very quickly become a product of their environment.
A long time ago and in an Irish kitchen far away, my Dad was preparing a carcass, when I swept in the door from school.
"Hi Dad, what's for dinner ?"
"Oh, this is just an auld mutt I found on the road, hit by a car, so I thought - waste not, want not".
I was speechless with anger, after all, our house had become known as the de facto shelter for every waif and stray. Flaring my nostrils as I do when I'm very cross indeed, I loudly declared -
"RIGHT. THAT'S IT. I AM NOT EATING ANY MORE MEAT IN THIS HOUSE UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE ATTITUDE OF THIS FAMILY HAS CHANGED TOWARDS THE WELFARE OF ERM ... DEAD ANIMALS."
To this day I don't know how my father kept a straight face, in any event, my 'protest' lasted until the following Saturday morning when our traditional fry up was filling those flared nostrils of mine with aromas so beautiful I could stand it no longer. I slouched into the kitchen and announced - "Sure the pig won't mind anyway, he's in heaven".
Fast forward some twenty years and suddenly it befalls me to combat those highly enjoyable convivial jousts as they arise. It started one balmy evening as LP and I were watching television and some horrifying footage of starving children in Africa was being shown. Studying her little face, the wheels of cognition could almost be observed, spinning furiously.
"Yes sweetpea ?"
"Sure that baby doesn't have any food ?"
"No love, none."
"No juice either ?"
"No, no juice either."
"No blankies ?"
"No sweetie, nothing."
She thought about this state of affairs, long and hard before her face lit up with all the excitement of a ground breaking solution to world hunger.
"Well then her mammy should have gone to Tesco's, shouldn't she ?"
Clearly, there was a lot of work to be done. In mitigation, she was very young then and has since grown to grasp the basics, such as - the oppression of minority groups is never acceptable. She even gets the concept that one person's moral code should never dictate the sexual freedoms of a society, whether those freedoms are exercised in a commercial sense or in the privacy of one's bedroom. Quite impressive for a twelve year old really.
Less impressive was this evening's display of pre-teen plumage. I had not long returned from a long day at a photo shoot and I was tired and cranky. On entering the kitchen, there stood a triumphant boy cat, licking his chops having just enjoyed the last remaining scraps of ice cream, as offered to him in a cereal bowl.
"For Christ's sake, can we not share the crockery with the animals ? Especially when he spends the vast majority of his day with his tongue between his thighs ?"
"SHAME ON YOU. CATS HAVE RIGHTS TOO."
Yep, it's going to be a long week.