Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Footy-Free Perfect Child

A CHILD is one of the Great Bunyip’s wonderful cosmic jokes, as anyone who sets out to raise one comes quickly to understand. Parents-to-be, especially mothers, spend inordinate amounts of time contemplating all the good and worthy influences they will bring to bear on their little ones, only to find that, just like war, no well-laid plan survives its first encounter with the enemy. Such has certainly been the experience of a close friend, a rock-ribbed libertarian lady who grapples daily with the shame of having produced a lad who covers his bedroom wall with posters of woebegone polar bears, melting glaciers and demands that the Hazelwood power station, irreplaceable source of 25% of Victoria's electricity, be closed and razed. The evening meal has become a torment of surly silence and snarling contempt, the discord several times reducing her to tears and her hubby to threats of violence. She did everything right, as did her Liberal-voting partner, yet their child appears determined to make idiocy his vocation. As the boy draws close to his fifteenth birthday she has come to realize there is nothing to be done but go zen, bite her tongue, wait patiently and hope that the late arrival of good sense will save him from a life of mung beans, public transport and the myth of the clean, green perpetual motion machine.

Just now taking the first delighted steps down parenthood’s road, fellow blogger Lucy Tartan is determined to raise the perfect child, and she has drawn up a list of quite explicit rules to achieve that goal. “I've more or less settled upon a core set of principles,” explains a confident Lucy, whose son, .Leonard Elvis, entered the world a little over a week ago. Here’s what little Lenny can look forward to:
  • plastic toys, brightly coloured ones in particular
  • voting Liberal
  • tv in bed
  • going to church (at the first sign of teenage experimentation in this direction I will say "here is $500, have a party with your friends instead.")
  • joining any sport which doesn't allow girls to play in the same contests as boys
  • especially, going anywhere near the local football club
  • eating meat
  • drinking Coke
  • getting a dog
  • working at McDonald's
  • finding anything remotely amusing about Charlie Sheen
  • doing after-school activities (music lessons etc) which require me to drive him to the place of the activities or do anything else organisational
  • table manners, including the ability to recognise implements of cutlery and use them for the purposes for which they are designed
  • not writing or saying singular 'they' indiscriminately
Good luck with all that, Lucy, especially the last rule, routinely violated these days by people who should know better – reporters, sub-editors and educators in particular. If Lucy’s plan falls apart, as it surely will, she might want to consider swapping her own progeny for the troublesome teen mentioned above. There would be no common genes, but it does sound as if they are made for each other.


  1. One of my friends worked briefly for an NGO. She went to Eritrea, I think, on an all-expenses paid fact finding trip (OK, it was to Eritrea, so not much of a gravy train there). On her return, she held a meeting at her home for those interested in hearing about the trip. She handed around the pictures of the horrifying scenes she had witnessed.

    In burst her four year son - who had obviously been denied all war-like toys such as guns, swords, spears. Brandishing a stick he had found in the garden, he yelled out, "kill, kill, kill".

    Go good luck, Lucy. Boys will be boys.

  2. I should like to know how she will enforce such forbidden practices as voting Liberal. Will she accompany her son, perhaps holding his hand, into polling booths once he’s over eighteen?
    Such morally worthy mothers remind me of the mothers who say that violence never solves anything, and who won’t allow boys to play with water-pistols.

    ‘One girl told him bluntly: “My mother says that violence never settles anything.”
    ‘“So?” Mr Dubois looked at her bleakly. “I’m sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that. Why doesn’t your mother tell them so? Or why don’t you?”
    ‘They had tangled before—since you couldn’t flunk the course, it wasn’t necessary to keep Mr. Dubois buttered up. She said shrilly, “You’re making fun of me! Everybody knows that Carthage was destroyed!”
    ‘“You seemed to be unaware of it,” he said grimly. “Since you do know it, wouldn’t you say that violence had settled their destinies rather thoroughly? However, I was not making fun of you personally; I was heaping scorn on an inexcusably silly idea—a practice I shall always follow. Anyone who clings to the historically untrue—and thoroughly immoral—doctrine that ‘violence never settles anything’ I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might will be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.”’
    —Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers.

  3. Good to see you blogging again Prof. Hope all is well with you and yours.

  4. Leonard Elvis? She called her son Leonard Elvis? Good heavens.

  5. Merilyn
    It gets better: "... on Monday we had lunch in Daylesford and the lady who brought our food said the baby will be a Taurean Rabbit, which I knew already but hadn't considered the implications of, and will therefore be very creative and intensely good-looking, ..." With those growing-up stresses in store , the lad will be SAS material.


  6. "plastic toys, brightly coloured ones in particular"

    What the hell does she have against brightly-colored toys? I recognize all the other items on the list as standard lefty-hippie obsessions, but I admit the one about brightly colored toys being a no-no has passed me by. Well, all I can say is this kid is in for a swell childhood, what with the ugly beige "natural colored" toys, politics forced down his throat while he's still in the cradle, and that ridiculous name.

  7. Reading the rest of her rather sensible entry on caesarians etc, I think your fellow blogger has her tongue firmly in her cheek with the first bit.

    As for the 15yo who insists on being a greenie, there's a simple fix for that. Tell him he needs to adjust his own lifestyle to his firmly held principles, then take away his iphone, ipod, playstation, deny him access to anything else that needs unclean energy, such as the TV and the Internet.

    The latter should do it. If he tries the counter argument that all these things would still be available with 'renewable energy', hook up the PC to an exercise bike, so that he has to pedal continually to update his Facebook status. Or to a mini solar cell, so no posting on his mates walls if its cloudy or after 5pm.

    Easy peasy. Unless the whippersnapper is a clever lefty who then takes you to HREOC for breaching the UN convention on the rights of children.

  8. it was to Eritrea, so not much of a gravy train there

    You'd be surprised. I've never been to Eritrea, but I've backpacked in places like Kyrgyzstan and Cambodia, and wherever crowds like UNESCO gather the money follows. This was the 90s and they were still polising the statue of lenin in the main square, but German microbreweries were springing up in Bishkek with lots of UN and even EU brand new Land Cruisers parked outside.

    Cambodia just after the Khmer Rouge were kicked out was a development consultants wet dream, with lots of fancy restaurants and pubs in Pnomh Penh and other sources of, ahem, entertainment.

  9. The really distressing thing about this story is that such people are allowed to vote.

    Did you read all the comments? I think I upchucked about 3 times.

  10. My EX remarried a Poet and they did that to my son. I remet up with him in his early twenties. He had done some jail and was only interested in hip-hop and drugs. Couldn't operate a motor vehicle and had no tool skills. Couldn't even use a computer. Hated women more than any other heterosexual man I ever met. He was reflexively leftist on every political issue I sounded him on. Guess you gotta be happy about that.

  11. Andrea, above, rightly asks, “What the hell does she have against brightly-colored toys?”
    Newborn children cannot see anything but bright colours at first. It takes some time after a baby is born for his eyes to finish maturing and for the synapses between them and his brain to be complete. By deliberately banning bright, primary colours, this mischievous mother may actually delay or impair her son’s visual development.

  12. She said the following is "NOT FORBIDDEN, BUT NOT ENCOURAGED EITHER":

    finding anything remotely amusing about Charlie Sheen

    And yet if you look at her Twitter feed (in the sidebar of her blog):

    I walked around a lot in @sophiec 's castoff boots today. #winning

    (for anyone who doesn't get it: "winning" is a meme started by the very same Charlie Sheen, on his Twitter account).