Every time I swipe my card at the supermarket there’s always a few anxious moments before the transaction is approved. And when the little machine gives me the nod, I grin like an idiot because I don’t have to go through the humiliating process of splitting payment over three cards or, worse still, having to say “Oh, I think I’ll leave it today” and walk proudly away from $12 worth of essential groceries.
Somewhat ironically, after a particularly nail-biting swipe experience the other day, The Pixie and I were approached in the supermarket car park by a Gentleman With Extremely Poor Dental Hygiene asking for money. I explained that I had just swiped my account clean and had no cash on me, but he wouldn’t let it go.
“Don’t you have just 20 cents you can spare me? Just a few coins?” he pleaded. But as he spoke, I saw his eyes shift past me to the filthy interior of the Love Bus, across to my daughter who was showing a healthy portion of underpants and bum-crack and had a face covered in some unidentifiable green sticky substance, and then back to the necklace around my neck that literally came out of a Bi-Lo christmas cracker three years ago.
In the end, I didn’t even end up having to refuse him a second time because he suddenly backed straight off. Wishing me luck, he went off to find someone a little less tragic and leaving me to feel relieved, annoyed and guilty all at the same time.
The Pixie was intrigued. “Why did that man ask us for money?” she wanted to know.
“Um, because he doesn’t have much himself.” I replied.
“Oh. Why doesn’t he have much money? He should buy lots of money,” she said. “When we get some more money, we could give him some.”
“Maybe,” I said, changing the subject. Something told me he wasn’t going to spend any money we gave him on a toothbrush but how could she understand that? Why should I want her to understand that? She was only four, after all.
Recently my visiting mother-in-law found herself desperately trying to distract Mr Justice from reading too much of the explicit signage outside our local “Adult Shop” when they went together to pick-up the take-away (from the Chinese Restaurant next door and NOT the Adult Shop, I hasten to add).
“The kids will have to grow up fast living around here!” she remarked to my husband afterwards. Certainly, I didn’t think, when I embarked on this Journey called Motherhood, that I would find myself having to explain to a three year old what a syringe is and what it was doing lying in our street. But then again, there are far more dangerous parts of the world for a child to grow up where they are exposed to far greater horrors than junkies and syringes and signs with the words “XXX Sex Toys” in them.
The question remains, however: how do you bring up your children to be worldy-wise but not world-weary? How do you protect them without smothering them? How do you preserve their childhood and the innocence and joy that it should contain but without bringing them up in a bubble?
My husband has often said that he would like his bio to read “[Name] grew up in [Suburb] in the 1950s and was horrified, upon leaving, to discover it was actually 1995.”
“Still, my childhood wasn’t so bad”, my husband has subsequently mused. “At least I knew how to use chopsticks”.
Note to self: teach children how to use chopsticks.
Another note to self: find a way of finishing this blog post without answering any of the questions I’ve raised because I really Don’t. Have. A. Clue. and these were things that were just swilling around in my brain and nobody comes to my blog Looking For Answers Anyway. Unless, of course, they come here looking for the answer to the question “How do I decorate a boob cake?” (and quite a few do, according to my WordPress Stats), in which case they really will be disappointed.
Final note to self: write a blog post entitled “How to decorate a boob cake” so at least something somewhere is answered. But just make sure the kids don’t see the diagrams in the interests of preserving their innocence just that little bit longer.