Parental Responsibility and Fairness…

Okay – it’s been a while since I blogged. I think, actually although I’ve had a few wobbles before this is my first long break. I can’t even feel virtuous about putting real actual life before posting it I’ve just been a laggard.

My fingers have actually felt repelled from the keyboard like one of those ladybird magnetic toys you used to find in pocket-money toy tables. The ones that spin wildly in protest when you put them head to head. We’ve trundled along here – doing some holiday stuff, meeting friends, Zeph did an amazing art workshop, we had ice-cream sundaes with my sister. Lots of easy lazy days as well, where nobody gets properly dressed and the kids make tunnels and dens in the long grass and bindweed festooned garden. 

Stripped of the school routine I flounder slightly. It’s very easy for me to grow accustomed to never leaving the house so I force us over the threshold to the park or just to buy milk. I have hospital appointments and drag the kids to sit on sticky chairs, kicking their feet mutinously against the institutional walls.

I feel as though I’m waiting for something. Sleeping badly I chase my answer down tree-lined avenues and empty litter blown streets in my dreams. I don’t catch it and wake up, sweaty and confused.

Recently I’ve been avoiding Facebook disconcerted by the quickly formed opinions of people I thought I knew. Washing up this morning I bitterly turned over the thought that it always seems to be the mother’s fault. From Oedipus down we hold up our bloody placenta stained hands to protect our faces from the stones being thrown.

Do we shape them? They arrive, lumps of wet clay from between our thighs and we should set to work moulding, tapping our foot on the potter’s wheel, coaxing up the clay. Firm in our own decided shape we must work to cut their cloth to fit the pattern we have.

They grow up like dandelions and teasels, quickly, wildly, overnight. In our family home they expand to fill the gaps between our defined shapes. Mother, Father, we smile at each other over their sleeping heads. We see ourselves repeated. We are fulfilled and succeeded.

Brushing hair and buckling shoes I kiss grazed sturdy knees and turn these thoughts internally. I’m thirty-seven and still wondering about what my outline may be. I feel the firm heads and edges of the children nudging and butting me in my stomach, elbowing my heart. Restless I toss in the grey early hours, smothered and squeezed by the expanding curves and corners of their souls. Often I find myself looking at them and marvelling at their certainty, the robustness of their self-regard. Was I born half-cooked? Did something break early on? Did I lose more than I suspected?

This is neither political or clever thinking. It’s me tossing some of my half formed thoughts up on a white screen. Politically I’d like to post this quote I also put up on FB

“Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of people’s ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people’s ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper.” Andrew Maxwell

I’ve read a lot of interesting thoughts on people’s blogs. Many of them I identified with, many reduced me to cursing and angry tears. I, personally, can hardly bear to see or hear Cameron and his sickening blame passing, scape-goating, sanctimonious whining. I have no answers. Why do people think there is an easy black and white answer?

I think about what I do know. I think about the last two years of constant political and media assertion that we are freewheeling to hell in a handcart. I consider the way I feel about that. Apathetic, constantly on edge and anxious about our jobs, our child tax credit upon which we depend. The constant search for work and mental calculations about childcare costs. The weekly lip biting at the ways things like bread and milk prices keep creeping higher and higher. I think about growing up in this atmosphere. Feeling as though you have no future and no choices. Do not doubt that poverty limits your choices. It does – this is indisputable. I consider children scooping up the toys they cannot normally afford nor see anyway of affording as work is scarce. I think about politicians scooping up the expenses they know technically are wrong but justify by the fact they want those things and feel they deserve them. I think about aiming a water cannon around Westminster… 

I think about that doggerel verse I always see at nurseries and on childminders walls – you know the one…”Show a child etc” Actually on reflection that’s not that clear, and you may not know it… – I have consulted google…

 If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.
If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.
If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.
If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.
If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.
If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.
If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world

I read my friends blustering about plastic bullets and water cannons and blame on their status lines and consider the five children I left my house to shout at in the early hours as they fled away from Barton Street hurling bricks and bottles at the houses along my road. And children they were, snotty, soot stained, one boys face streaked with tears, one girl who’d lost a shoe and had a scratch on her face.

Just children. Today Zeph and I butted heads over what was fair. He cried and broke a plate. Angry and ashamed he lay on the kitchen floor crying. I sat next to him and rubbed his back. I want to join him. Where is fair? What is it?

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6 responses to “Parental Responsibility and Fairness…

  1. Really thought provoking Laura! I’m with you about the water cannons and Westminster!!! xx

  2. I think I can live with your less frequent blogging if you write something like this when you do write a post. You write so well! (as I don’t – same word three times in two lines – urgh!) The riots – the politics – all this crap has been getting me down. You’ve expressed a lot of what I’ve been feeling.

    • Possibly biased but I’m thinking you write some of the best comments around *cough* 😀 See these ranty posts I don’t edit – which sometimes I regret when I see how they ramble but the ones I try harder on often seem a bit stilted when I read them through. Gah. I am also more than capable of reusing a word far to often!

  3. can we get our boys together sometime soon….please! I’m going slowly mad…….

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