Posts Tagged ‘innocence’

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.

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We had an unexpected houseguest over the weekend: a small stuffed bear with his own logbook. Like many primary school classes in Australia, Mr Justice’s class has adopted a Buddy Bear mascot as part of an admirable anti-bullying initiative: each child takes turns taking the bear home for the weekend and then they share their adventures by writing and drawing about them in a special book. 

Personally, I couldn’t wait to read the book and catch up with what Buddy Bear had been up to since we last saw him in May. Flicking through the book, it seems like he’s had himself a pretty full dance card – going to parks, visiting grandmas, buying lollies at the shop, even making an appearance at a few birthday parties, including Mr Justice’s own. My personal favourite was the time he “was a stoslip mummylsus”. I have no idea what it means but it sure sounds fun. 

And then I came to the page written by one little boy who said he’d taken Buddy Bear to church – again, not unusual it would seem from the other entries – but on this particular occasion, or so the little boy wrote, “after the service Buddy Bear gave his life to Jesus”.

I felt a bit taken aback. Sure, part of BB’s directive is to accompany his hosts wherever they go on the weekend, and that often involves going to their place of worship. But to so clearly throw his hat in the Christian ring like that? Buddy Bear, shame on you: I quite frankly expected a little more sensitivity from such a beloved stuffed toy. After all, Buddy Bear belongs to a class with a diverse ethnic and religious make up – as well as Christians of all varieties, there are Muslim kids, Jewish kids, a Hindu and some kids born into staunchly atheist households (such as Mr Justice). I would have thought there would have been something in the BB Constitution that separated Church from Bear, wouldn’t you? But obviously, even if there is, it’s as clear a separation as there is between the Church and State in the US – because that’s really very clear indeed, what with the national motto being “In God We Trust” and all. It’s about as clear as the big green slugs of snot currently sliding out The Pixie’s nose.

When I told my husband about this, his immediate response was that we should make sure Mr Justice wrote in the book that “Buddy Bear drank blood from the skull of another bear.” But then he has himself a pretty violent knee-jerk reflex when it comes to in-your-face religion of any variety. Knowing full-well that Mr Justice retains full editorial control over what he writes in the Buddy Bear book, I came up with another idea and that was to write my own Buddy Bear account in my blog. Having no official religion of my own to convert him to, I did the next best thing: I took him with me to The Gin Palace.

Do you have any idea how deeply cool you feel taking flash photography of a stuffed bear with his head in a cocktail glass in a place like The Gin Palace? It’s about as cool as looking like someone’s aunt in an unclearly signposted bar (see “Mumsy’s the Word“). And yet I did it. In the name of inter-spirituality, I felt compelled to show Buddy Bear and the world that drinking martinis can be counted as a form of worship. 

And then I went a bit further with my photo shoot. Much much further. Probably a lot further than a mother should go. Which is why I just can’t bring myself to post those photos here, complete soft-cock that I am. 

As I lay him on the floor next to a half-finished bottle of Scotch, I couldn’t help but think about how much this bear is loved by 22 children, who all hope and pray (not necessarily just in a Christian sense) every Friday that they will be one chosen to take him home. And as I lay BB face down on the naked breasts of a model in a magazine, I was reminded of how many little hands had clutched that precious bear in the night, loving it even in dreams. Even as I lined up a shot of BB, head down in the toilet (with a handful of Tiddles’ partially chewed dinner thrown into the bowl – oh, and a tablespoon of diced carrot for good measure), I found myself carefully lining the toilet seat with paper towel so that BB didn’t give the gift of gastro to the next child to get him.

You see, I just can’t stop myself being a capital M Mum and being the custodian of my children’s innocence (and gastric health), even for a moment. Well, maybe just a few moments – long enough to take the photos and then write about them, but certainly not long enough to actually post the photos. For one thing, the upload time is just too damn slow on this computer. And, as we all know, a picture paints a thousand words and this post is only 868 words, so hopefully me and my conscience are still in the clear.

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