Tag Archives: It takes a village

Perhaps hitting children really is too horrible to contemplate

There’s a new parenting book out by Sue Edgerley, urging mothers to stay home, telling parents to run their families like army units, and advocating smacking children. It’s self-published: evidently no self-respecting publisher would go near it. The Murdoch papers are all running stories about it. Whatever, really. What intrigues me is the picture my local paper, the Adelaide Advertiser, has chosen to run with the story.

Small blonde girl, smacking her doll, which is face down over her knee.

Child hitting doll.

(Description: Small blonde girl, smacking her doll, which is face down over her knee.)

Click here for the story, and the comments. But I wouldn’t bother reading the comments if I were you. Seriously.

The picture tells its own story. Evidently it would be too horrible to see an adult hitting a child, even though it is not illegal for parents to hit children in South Australia. So instead of showing what Sue Edgerley is advocating, they sanitised it by getting one of her proposed victims a child to act it out. I wonder how many people would continue to support hitting children if they could see what it really looks like. It is *not* small, blonde and cute.

I don’t understand why newspapers are giving free publicity to this writer. What she advocates masquerades as “tough love”, but that’s a misnomer. Hitting children is not love at all. It’s violence, perpetrated by big people against small vulnerable people who are perhaps the most powerless group of people in our society. And by giving her air time, Rupert Murdoch and his papers are supporting her. It might be a little different if an established publisher was backing her book, but given that this is a self-publishing effort, otherwise known as “vanity” publishing, I don’t see why it merits any particular attention from the mainstream media.

The compleat pageant experience

Adelaide is really just a giant country town. Everyone knows each other, everyone goes to the show every year, and everyone goes to the annual Christmas parade, or pageant.*

The pageant is a long, long parade, making its way from one side of the old city to the other, and taking about an hour to pass. In our first year here, we headed down town about half an hour before the parade was due to start, and stood in the back row. The girls were entranced. Last year I flatly refused to go: the overnight low was about 25 degrees, and it was due to reach about 30 by the time the parade started at 9.30am. But this year, our last in Adelaide, I thought that I ought to take the girls to see the parade.

We staggered out of bed at 6.00am, got dressed, had a hasty breakfast, gathered up the cushions and chairs and blanket we had organised the previous evening, and headed off at 6.30am. When I say, “we”, I mean me and the girls. Mr Strange Land stayed in bed.** By 7.00am I had parked in the Central Markets car park, and the girls and I had gone down to Victoria Square, and staked out a spot behind the blue honour line. This is a special road marking that exists only for the sake of the pageant, delineating paraders from paradees. Woe betide any school boy who elects to sit over the line; a passing police officer will hustle him back. I had thought that this would be a good spot on the parade route: easy parking, easy access to toilets, not too far from the start (the dancers and marchers and walkers and clowns always look very, very tired towards the end of the route), the chance to sit right on the tramlines, the possibility of excursions to find coffee. The pageant wasn’t due to start until 9.30am, but some people arrived at 4.00am to find a good spot, and by the time we arrived at 7.00, there were only one or two front row spaces left. We were just in time.

We set up our chairs and cushions and blankets, and then I went and got coffee and hot chocolates from the markets. Bliss! After that, the girls engaged in the fine pastime of defacing the streets of Adelaide.

Three girls, drawing on the street with chalk.

Defacing the streets of Adelaide

I thought that this was their best piece of graffiti.

My mum is the best, in chalk, alongside the tramline.

"My mum is the best."

Drawing on the streets with chalk has become part of the pageant ritual in recent years, so much so that the community aid tents hand out chalks to children who have come without. They also gave out water, and sunblock, and balloons. The girls queued for half an hour to get a balloon each. Of the three balloons, two were lost into the sky, and one popped, very loudly. Some children had brought bubble mix and bubble blowers, and hordes of children chased bubbles all over the place. Alas, one bubble popped right in Miss Nine the Elder’s eye, but a very young St John’s Ambulance chap helped her to wash it out. At 9am, we took part in an attempt to set a world record for the largest number of people singing Christmas carols at one time. Ms Twelve has become interested in world records, so she was pleased to have her name recorded as a participant. We listened to announcements, and interviews with pageant participants. I swear that the Pageant Queen must come from Taranaki: her nasal rising inflection as she said, “Hello” was a dead giveaway. Or perhaps it’s just the country connection. I chatted with the people next to us, and did some crochet. The girls asked, repeatedly, “Are we there yet? Is it time yet?”

At last, the countdown began, and at 9.30am, the parade started. 10 minutes later it reached us. Four mounted police officers led the parade, riding stately grey horses.

Mounted police officers

Mounted police

From then on there were floats and marching bands and dancers and clowns. Some of the floats were very hokey indeed. I liked the bands; I loved hearing the snatches of music, and seeing the different people engaged in making music. The girls liked the fairy tale floats, but they were disappointed that the snail float didn’t appear this year (the snail leaves a watery slime trail as it goes). Nipper and Nimble came by – two model horses, each ridden by a very small girl in fairy clothes. Apparently it is a great honour to be chosen to ride Nipper or Nimble, and the politics around the selection is intense. Those who miss out can go and sit on Nipper and Nimble in Santa’s Cave in David Jones, but it’s not the same.

I thought that the panda float was a highly accurate representation of the wretched beasts: the papier mache models did absolutely nothing, just like the real things.

Model pandas, static, of course.

Why is there a kangaroo in the middle?

The nativity scene was much more interesting, preceded by three camels.

Three camels, each ridden by a "wise man".

Camels and kings

After an hour or so, Santa Claus came by, and then it was all over. There was an enormous traffic jam as 300,000 people all tried to head home, but that was to be expected.

So we experienced getting up early, the wait, sitting on tram lines, drawing on the street, takeaway coffee and hot chocolates, getting balloons, losing balloons, getting first aid, taking part in a world record attempt, counting down to the start of the parade, seeing the parade go by, and long delays in the traffic on the way home. Later on that day, I checked the photo gallery on the local paper’s site, and there we are in the background of one of the shots. It was truly the compleat experience.

* About 300,000 people, or nearly 1/3 of Adelaide’s population.

** And later got up to carry on with the mountain of work he has at present.

Shame

I feel so ashamed.

Protestors holding sign saying, "No to refugees."

.
Detention centre debate begins

We live in one of the richest nations in the world, and we cannot even behave with minimal decency to children whose parents have made a desperate journey to come here. Some people there wanted to offer welcome and support to these people, but most people wanted to have nothing to do with them, and certainly didn’t want to have them in their own comfortable community.

I wonder how many of these people go to church on Sunday, or send their children to church schools, where they claim to teach Christian compassion?

Update: Grog’s Gamut has an excellent post – The triumph over power, prejudice and bigotry…

To be honest, I doubt the 500 people who attended the meeting reflect the real view of most people who live in the hills. My suspicion is more than a few of those who attended the meeting don’t even live in Woodside. If Jamie Briggs wants them to be his supporters, then go for it – but he can then forego any crud about him being “a moderate”. My view is that the real majority of the residents is voiced by people such as Kim Galdigau who “said the Christian church community in the area wanted to know what it could do to help”.

Why Ms Eleven should be allowed to get a Netbook

Our elder daughter presented us with this essay. I’ve used her blog-name rather than her given name throughout, so one or two sentences sound a little odd, but other than that, I have not changed her work at all. What do you think? Opinions please.

A Netbook is a small laptop with a screen that is about 10 inches across. They have most of the same tools as a laptop. Ms Eleven is a girl of 11 (soon to be 12) years of age, who wants a Netbook for a present. There are four reasons for Ms Eleven receiving a Netbook.

The first reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it would help her keep in contact with her friends in Australia. Ms Eleven will miss her friends a lot and having a Net book would help her keep in contact with them. Ms Eleven would also be able to use Skype instead of calling her friends, and so decreasing the family phone bill.

The second reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it would free up the computer for parents and siblings. The main computer in Ms Eleven’s household is used for parents’ email, parents’ Tetris, mother’s blogs, children’s email, children’s games, parents’ work, children’s work, and children’s expositions about getting a Netbook. Because of all these different things the computer is used for, the main computer is very hard to get access to. If Ms Eleven had a Netbook, she could use that instead, and it would make it easier for parents and siblings to get to the computer.

The third reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that she could learn more about I.T. Ms Eleven is close to going to high school, and computers are used often for homework and schoolwork. After high school, is university and/or an apprenticeship. Then a job. All these use computers, so Ms Eleven will find it easier if she already had some past experience with computers. If Ms Eleven had a Netbook she would get to set it up, organise it, transfer information, practise touch-typing, and learn how to use it. Knowing how to do these would be a great life skill, and Ms Eleven can only acquire them if she got a Netbook.

The fourth reason for Ms Eleven getting a Netbook is that it will help with her schoolwork. If Ms Eleven got a Netbook she would be able to research and do assignments more easily. Ms Eleven would learn so much more from school if she wasn’t stressed about having a computer to do her homework on. She would get better marks and better reports, so getting her a Netbook is a great idea.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that Ms Eleven should receive a Netbook for a present because it will help her keep in contact with her friends, free up the computer for parents and siblings, advance Ms Eleven’s I.T. skills, and help her with her schoolwork.

Of families and earthquakes

My brother rang me early on Saturday morning, and told me that there had been a massive earthquake in Christchurch. We’re a North Island family, and we don’t have family down south, but as it turned out, my beloved uncle was there on Friday night, staying on the eighth floor of a hotel. I was able to contact him by txt and confirm that he was okay, but after that, I stayed off the network.

I spoke to him by phone on Sunday morning. It was terrifying, he said. He woke to his bed rocking and shuddering, and only by clinging on tight did he manage to avoid being thrown out. Many of the other people staying in the hotel were tipped out of their beds. He packed up and got down stairs, and then in company with the other guests, assembled outside. It was bitterly cold. After a while, the hotel staff brought out sheets and blankets. There was no information: the hotel did not have a battery-operated radio. All of the guests were badly frightened. Eventually my uncle made it to the airport. The building was closed, so together with other travellers, he spent most of the day perched with his luggage on a traffic island. People helped each other out, sharing food and water, looking after luggage for each other, supporting each other. A nearby hotel made its bathrooms available for people to use. By mid-afternoon the airport re-opened, and late in the day, he got a flight to Auckland, and from there, home to Wellington. On Saturday, he coped, but on Sunday, in the safety of his home, he has been very, very shaken.

As the plane took off from Christchurch, the people on board clapped.

I’m sure people functioned on adrenalin on Saturday. There had been a disaster, by who knows what good fortune there had been no direct loss of life, and it was a matter of everyone doing what they could to check on their neighbours and families and friends, to look after people who were injured, to pull together food and water and shelter for the day. But by today, I’m guessing that the longterm nature of the damage has started to become apparent. My uncle and the other people on the flights out of Christchurch will have gone home to comfortable beds, clean water, power at the flick of a switch. Many people whose homes are in Christchurch don’t know when they will have access to such basic goods again. A problem for adults of course, but so much more of a problem for people with others to care for. Parents will be worried about food and shelter for their children, adult children will be worried about caring for elderly parents, caregivers will be concerned about the people they assist with daily living. Some people with disabilities may be in extra difficulty too, especially if their ability to live independently is predicated on functioning public services. Things will be all the more difficult because at this stage, there will be no end in sight.

My thoughts are with the people of Christchurch.

Some other thoughts: The old buildings in Christchurch were damaged, badly, but the new buildings, built to earthquake standards, survived. Not only are the building codes excellent, but they are administered by a corruption-free inspectorate. This weekend, we New Zealanders have good reason to take great pride in our corruption-free public servants.

As people in Christchurch are coping with the earthquake, people in Victoria, Australia, are coping with floods.

Dear friends of ours lost lost their mother and mother-in-law today. Our thoughts are with them too.

Cross posted