Recently, I helped out on a school excursion around town. On our way back, we passed the River Avon. Large white frothy deposits were floating in the water. "What are those?" asked Lily, one of the six-year-olds in my charge. "See those trees up on the hill?" I replied. "Giants live there. When they get bored, they throw clouds down into the water." Lily froze in horror - not at the prospect of the giants but that I had told such an outrageous lie. "Don't you believe in giants?" I asked. "Nope," Lily said. "Goblins?" "Nope." "Angels?" "Nope." "Witches?" "Nope." "Fairies?" "Yes," she said. Ah. "But that's the only thing," she added hurriedly. (So those over-priced fairy costumes and parties have paid off).
I was rather quiet as I digested this alarming information. Others joined in our conversation. Lily wasn't the only six-year-old who didn't believe in magic; she was firmly in the majority. As we halted at the school gates, I said, "Next you'll be telling me you don't believe in Father Christmas." There was a silence as the little group that had amassed around me thought about my question. "Well," said one of the boys, who possesses what I can only describe as an Eeyore Aura, "my brother didn't believe in him for ages but then he met him so he said he must be true."
"Now listen up," I said, "if you don't believe in the giants they will come down from the hills and stomp all over the school."
"So?" said Lily.
Now this is what I call the Eeyore Aura. Our children today are living under a cloud of gloomy reality. They don't believe in things unless they see them - because they see absolutely everything. There is no awe any more. They know all the sad workings of life and the mundane details of family life. Their parents talk to them as equals, forgetting that this little mind next to them would rather think about whether centipedes really do wear tiny boots. Instead they hear about how stressed their mums are, how they need to pick up Alfie from tennis club later, get their contraceptive pill from the clinic, meet Janine for a skinny latte at 2pm and feed the chickens their new diet to make them produce more eggs with creamy porous shells. There is too much detail. Not enough abstract.
|My mum's inside talking to Auntie Marge |
about having a coil fitted.
Children are born to be abstract. My son once wrote me a letter. It simply said: Dear Mummy, I love you. Did you know that hummingbirds can change colour in light.
Why don't we drop the details and bring back the awe into our children's lives. We want more awe, not the Eeyore aura. (It's rather cumbersome catch phrase, I'll admit).
Next time at the Cushy Parent: how to have a marvellous summer holiday with the children. Waiting for the pun? Thought I was being sarcastic? Tsush.