On the Beach

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Parenthood: Part 1 of 6 million

I feel as a parent that I bumble through with instinct, advice and the occasional dip into a website about children. The latter most make me feel woefully inadequate; most seem to suggest that for proper development, a 2 year old should be making papier mache letters to form her own name whilst playing the piano with the other hand. Me, on the other hand, I consider it a success if they are in bed by the end of the day (mostly) fed, (mostly) clean and not broken. I try not to aim too high.

One thing my husband and I feel quite strongly about is always answering a child's question as accurately and honestly as we can. This can yield some interesting conversations and rather bizarre results.

Unless it's a long car journey, I have an absolute bar on children's music in the car. It is my last bastion of resistance against all things Mickey Mouse/Barney sung by children whose voices make me wince as if I have an ice cream headache. No, thank you. So we listen to proper music.

We and the girls (M, aged 4 and E, aged 2) both love Freshly Ground, a southern African band. One of the songs features an excerpt from an inauguration speech by Robert Mugabe. M asked who he was and we replied that he was the President of Zimbabwe. She asked why they were singing about him, so we said he wasn't very nice. She asked for specific examples, which we tried to provide- he takes things from people without asking, doesn't care about anyone, 4 year old stuff.  As excellent and important a book as Peter Godwin's "The Fear" is, we thought the electoral fraud and violence would be a bit much for her.

 M is now obsessed with Robert Mugabe (and fleas, but that's another story) and him being a "bad man". I think she thinks he is the absolute root of all evil. I thought it might amuse you to know that when she had a friend over today, they decided that E was Robert Mugabe and were shouting at her to go away, telling "Robert" he was bad and running away from her. Her friend, who I don't think knows who Robert Mugabe is, joined in the game eagerly  and, E, bless her, (who is aware of  the existence of Robert Mugabe in her own way- she knows he's  bad) seemed to, worryingly, delight in assuming the mantle of Bobby M and ran around terrorising people, flora and fauna. 

With children, and I suspect this will continue, a parent is constantly having to make quick decisions when a child asks a difficult question and you just have to hope you get it right more times than not.

In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy the southern African human rights fantasy playing out in my garden. 

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