Sunday, 18 October 2015

Some thoughts about children.

It would seem that there has been a baby show, the biggest baby show ever, in London's Olympia this week. At one time a baby show was a bit like a beauty competition for babies, a "bonny baby" competition, where judges decided which baby was the best looking. Someone has probably decided that such a thing is no longer politically correct and I must say I agree. Everyone's baby is the most beautiful in the world. That's a foregone conclusion. 

No, this was an event to show off all the wonderful equipment you can buy now to make you into better parents. From such things as a baby buggy that converts into a high chair at the press of a button to romper suits that have magnets for fasteners instead of buttons or poppers. It did not say whether the former cleaned itself up after the baby had finished spreading food over it. And the justification for the latter was that it can take up to a minute, yes, a whole minute, to fasten a baby's romper suit and this is a minute you can use for cuddles instead! 

Unless, of course, you are so busy on your mobile phone that you have no time for cuddles. I mention this because there is a Bluetooth wristband (a positive bargain at £44.95) which lets you know if your toddler has wandered off beyond a pre-set distance. Here is what I read about it: 
" "When parents today are out with their kids, they've got their phones going, they're answering texts and checking Facebook -and if the little one darts off, there's this heart-wrenching moment of panic," said Mark Phillips, father of two and the inventor of My Buddy Tag, a wristband that allows you to track your child's movements on a Smartphone app." 
Or, of course, I find myself thinking, you could just put your phone away and interact, a fancy word for talk and play, with your child instead. 

There's a whole lot more stuff that modern parents seem to need. It's amazing. I really do not know how we managed to raise two children. No wonder they say having children is a very expensive business! 

Another aspect of childrearing in the news has once again been the question of letting children play out. Research tells us that children who are driven everywhere and not allowed to roam freely, occasionally getting into difficulty climbing trees and so on, are less likely to grow up to be self sufficient young adults. Apparently this is one explanation for so many young adults still living at home with their parents. And there I was, believing it was something to do with the economic situation, unemployment and the lack of affordable housing! 

Having said that, I am cautiously on the side of those who say that children need to be encouraged to be independent. Yes, children should walk to school and even do so on their own if that is possible. But there are limits. Nostalgia is a fine thing but it sometimes makes people forget that when they walked to school unaccompanied back in the 1950s and 1960s, there were far fewer cars on the road and it actually was less dangerous! 

The grammar police came out in me today. In the Sunday paper there is a feature where a well known person writes about books, films, art exhibitions, restaurants and such like that have impressed him or her over the last week. Today it was the turn of a writer of books for children. I found myself squirming when he talked about a film he and his wife had seen and not been terribly impressed with, only to find that they could not stop thinking about it. "Me and Emms were texting each other for days afterwards ... " he wrote. "Me and Emms" did a number of other things as well. 

Now, I know lots of people speak this way all the time but it grates on me. There's a bit of me that believes that those who do this consider themselves to be more important and are giving themselves centre stage all the time. If you say "Emms and I did this and that", you give Emms pride of place and put yourself humbly after her. (I might even accept "Emms and me did this and that", but only with great reluctance.)

That's my take on it anyway and I really think that someone who has written very successful books for children, formative books for children, should know better.

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