The day is coming…

…when this will be me and Scoop:

hi-sweetie-how-was-school-today

There are a few differences though: I don’t own a green pullover (or any pullover, come to think of it) and I haven’t picked up a newspaper in years. Oh, and I don’t have screws for ankles.

The kids are very tech-proficient though. Alex has been emailing his best friend (who has been away) regularly and converses regularly with his UK grandparents via Skype and email. He also helps out Granny with her computer issues. Scoop is learning at school and from her brother.

However, the day that I get that sort of reply after a day at school will be the day that their internet access gets immediately revoked. Technology needs to work symbiotically in our lives; it’s not a replacement for human or family interaction.

The Best Six Minutes You’ll Spend Today

And if you don’t know what six minutes is, then your parents should have taught you to tell the time properly.

Just like this:

Dave Allen from 1993: simply brilliant.

On Hitting Children

Much local outrage (again) at the news that the government is considering a ban on the use of corporal punishment in the home. I suspect we’ll see one (or more) open letters written this week on the subject.

“Yippie.”

The furore has, once again, ignited the fires of indignation at alleged government interference in our private lives, and with it, brought out a bewildering defensive pride in some parents, unapologetically crowing that they hit their kids and no-one was going to stop them.

This post is not here to agree or disagree with the proposed legislation. In addition, in writing it, I’m not intending to pass comment on your choice of parenting methods either. Although, I think some of these examples are going a bit far and I was unpleasantly surprised to find the Bible thinks corporal punishment is just fine (but apparently only cos it’s preferable to Hell):

The rod is the family’s symbol of authority: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.” Proverbs 23:13-14.

Whole. Different. Argument.

So let’s not go there.

No, I just wanted to point out the strange (to me, at least) differences in the way we regard physical action against kids compared to physical action against other members of society.
To that end, I’ve taken some of the comments I saw on the subject this morning and I’ve removed any reference to kids and replaced it with a reference to women.

So now, they look like this:

My wife knows if she does something wrong, I’ll give her a hiding.

My dad used to beat my Mum, and it never did her any harm.

Sometimes, my girlfriend just won’t listen, and it’s the only way to get the message across.

My wife needs to know that when she doesn’t do as she’s told, she’ll get a good, hard smack.

It’s part of womanhood. It’s the only way they learn right from wrong.

Suddenly, it doesn’t seem quite so acceptable. Does it?

And before some idiot suggests it, I’m not accusing you of child abuse (the accepted legal definition thereof, anyway) or perpetrating domestic violence. So let’s be clear on that.

Mischievous? Sure.
Disingenuous? I don’t know so much.

It’s a dichotomy I’ve never understood – the social acceptability of corporal punishment in kids versus the disgust at domestic violence. There’s obviously a difference between the two, but at the end of the day, it comes down to using physicality to exploit or demonstrate one’s superior power over a vulnerable individual.

There will be those who argue that the rules for adults and kids need to be different. And they’re absolutely right, but those differences should then be in favour of protecting children, not vice versa.
And then there’s the other way of looking at it: that rather than comparing adults and children, we’re actually comparing humans with humans. So what makes it right to physically punish one group, when it’s plainly not ok to physically punish another?

So where do we draw the line? And why and how exactly did we choose to draw it there?

Steve knows parenting is hard work…

…and he wants you to know it too.

If you are a parent, you will appreciate his thoughts, I promise. We’ve all been through those difficult stages when bringing our kids up and, honestly, it actually does seem sometimes like you are completely alone – even when there is a husband or wife to help you out. That’s possibly because you are so utterly exhausted from the repeated sleepless nights that you don’t even recognise that there are other human beings around.

Having kids is brilliant. But it’s also hella hard:

I have to confess that sometimes the sound of his screaming drives me to hide in the pantry. And I will neither confirm nor deny that while in there, I compulsively eat chips and/or dark chocolate.

There are people who say this to me:

“You should enjoy every moment now! They grow up so fast!”

I usually smile and give some sort of guffaw, but inside, I secretly want to hold those people under water. Just for a minute or so. Just until they panic a little.

He’s not the only one, is he? We’ve all been there. I had to move the chips and dark chocolate to a cupboard I couldn’t physically hide in, because they were playing havoc with my diet. That’s if there was any left after my (occasionally) gibbering wreck of a wife got to the pantry before I did.
For the record, I have yet to drown anyone though.

Yet still, somehow, the kids survive, despite these moments. And they thrive. Because you’re doing ok.

And you know what? As Steve points out, (worryingly) this is actually normal and you should remember that:

You’re not a terrible parent.You’re an actual parent with limits. You cannot do it all.

We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for parenting, where we feel like we’re failing horribly if we feed our children chicken nuggets and we let them watch TV in the morning.

We’d do well to remember that the remarkable kid playing the violin in front of an enraptured Royal Albert Hall at age 3 is on the news because she’s remarkable. And while we all want our kids to do remarkable things, the 3 year old wouldn’t be on the tele if every kid was able to do that. Because it wouldn’t be remarkable.

Our kids are getting older now – Scoop turns 5 next month – and it’s finally beginning to dawn on us that we’ve done pretty well in bringing them up. It’s not always been smooth going – it’s still not always smooth going – but as they learn to take more responsibility for their own lives, we’re seeing that we’ve done ok.

The light at the end of the tunnel is clearly visible and it’s burning brightly.
Only thing is, now I can see it, I actually don’t want to go there any time soon.

Thanks Nix

Treehouse

It’s been a very busy weekend. I’ve been doing some rudimentary calculations and it seems that I could have watched about 19 hours of live football over the two days. However, by some unfortunate twist(s) of fate, all I managed to see was the last 15 minutes of Liverpool v Newcastle, including another dodgy red card.

So busy, yes, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t fun. Birthday parties, braais, sleepovers and the highlight for us, the unveiling of an early Christmas present for the kids – a treehouse.

Here they are, on it as soon as they were allowed this morning (we like to consider our neighbours, see?).

This picture makes it look like our back garden is a forest, which obviously, it’s not. It’s a garden. But the treehouse is – rightly – a huge hit. It’s close enough to be safe, hidden enough to be “secret” and features a cleverly designed rope web which acts as a comfy seat for relaxing with a book and which has already seen extensive action. Already, it has been a castle, a fire engine and a streetlight fixing crane. Not bad for its first 24 hours.

In addition, because of this recent installation, I have been constantly humming a song featuring the word “treehouse” by these guys and I will be sharing that at some point in the near future.