Children and Society: Cause and Effect

Some people on Facebook seemed surprised recently at my willingness to return to what has now become the Obamanation. Though this is not possible for a number of reasons, the newspapers continue to be filled with good reasons flee. I continue to marvel at the British Government’s lack of ability to discern the relationship between cause and effect, instead destroying the remnants of this society, completely baffled by both.

Side by side today in the Mail Online, were a stories about a 14-year-old and an 8-year-old. The older boy shot a teacher in the face with a pellet gun at Beal High School in Ilford, Essex. He got a 15-day suspension. His friends who helped conceal the gun after the incident got shorter suspensions. The teacher was lucky to have been hit between the eyes and not in one of them.

While I agree with the spokeman from the National Union of Teachers that children who use violence against teachers should be expelled rather than suspended, this is the same union that wants all faith schools in the country to be stripped of everything that makes them unique, better performing, and over-subscribed.

The 8-year-old refused to get ready for school on morning. It wasn’t because he didn’t want to go to school, but just because he got up late and was not doing as he was told. His mother smacked him with a hairbrush. A teacher found out. The mother was charged with assault and the boy taken into care by Somerset County Council. She now gets to see him for two hours a week. His long-term future will be determined when she is sentenced later this month.

The court will have to hear from social services whether they think the mother has been re-educated sufficiently to know that even though the law allows for “reasonable chastisement”, social workers are ultimately the interpreters of this language. If they like you, you get your child back. If they don’t, they can (and will, from countless stories in the press) permanently sever the parental relationship. Once an appeals court finally says that bureaucrats have over-stepped the mark, they may also say that unfortunately it’s too late for parents to have their children back.

Parents can’t discipline their children and schools are faced with increasing numbers of children who cannot be controlled at home and no power to control them at school.

Seven

It was seven years ago right now that I was in the operating suite of the local county hospital. After 52 hours of labour and an emergency c-section, I was holding my first-born and showing him to my exhausted wife.

When he was first extracted from the womb, he wasn’t looking to good and the paediatrician had to be called up to work on him. Those were nervous minutes as I paced back and forth between the operating table and the table where they were encouraging him to breathe. Soon enough all was well and I carried him in swaddling clothes to meet his mother. While they continued to sew her up, I took him downstairs to the nursery and put his first proper clothes on him and took the first pictures.

He seems all grown up now. He’s into Star Wars and Doctor Who and Bakugan. He’s already getting books as presents that are for him to read, not to be read to him.  He has more growing to do, and may God grant him many years.

Not As Easy As It Looks

At our house we’ve already started ballet, karate and Scouts. The next logical step is musical instruments.

The Older Child has been on about learning to play the guitar for some time. He was even looking into taking lessons at school. While the former seemed plausible, the latter is ridiculous, given that the Older Child’s father has been playing guitar for almost 29 years and has taught guitar for almost as long, including teaching children not much older than the Older Child.

Because my acoustic guitar is way too big for the Child to use, we considered repairing a 3/4 size guitar belonging to the Unnamed Woman. It ony needed a bridge, nut, strings, and perhaps a few other bits and bobs, plus I’m not sure the tuning mechanism even holds. And it’s still a bit big for his hands. Or we could buy a new one. We took the Woman’s guitar to a repair shop to get an estimate for bringing it into working order. It was only £15 more to get a new half-size guitar.

We went with the latter option. He had money from his grandfather and at least he was putting some of it into something of more value than most of the toys he buys.

The Older Child was under the same impression about guitar playing that I was about snow skiing when I was 5. You just put on the skis and away you go, right? As soon as he got the guitar, he did the musical equivalent of standing still in the snow. He wanted to play a song and the Woman wanted me to buy him a guitar book.

After explaining how the strings and frets are numbered for reference, he tried his first chord. E minor. I always start with E minor because it is the simplest. The finger positioning wasn’t a problem for the Child. Pressing down with his fingertips and not touching anywhere else on the neck of the guitar was another matter. He had no idea that guitar playing involves pain.

His enthusiasm began to wain a bit. He finally began to understand that he will not be playing “Johnny B. Goode” like Michael J Fox in Back to the Future any time soon.

This morning he was strumming on his guitar again, playng a muted E minor. I hope he has the interest to follow through, even with the pain in the fingers. He is starting 10 years earlier than I did. I hope one day he is better than me.

What the Government Has Planned for Your Daughter

Next week all the 12-year-old girls at my school will get their vaccinations against the virus that causes many cases of cervical cancer. The injection is given to 12-year-olds because it is only effective if taken before a girl becomes sexually active. It will be too late for some of the girls.

The Government now has another plan for 12-year-olds. Under legislation to be considered in Parliament this week, they will be given pills for do-it-yourself home abortions. As long as their unborn child is less that 19 weeks old, they will get the abortifacients without their parents ever knowing.

They will have to be a little creative, obviously. At 19 weeks, the baby is about 7 inches long and weighs about 2/3 of a pound. That’s a lot to flush down the toilet. It’s probably the sort of thing that will require sneaking some sort of small plastic bag upstairs and then slipping out to the bins. Best to plan the abortion near to collection day, so the decomposing flesh doesn’t alert mum and dad. It would be especially nasty to have a dog get into the bin and drag the corpse around the garden.

Then there’s all the blood and related gloop associated with expelling what Dr Evan Harris, MP always prefers to call the “products of conception”. But I guess mum will just think her darling daughter is having an unusally heavy period.

And this will bring abortion to Northern Ireland, which until now, like the counties to the south, has prohibited it.

Leftovers

Reading about Elizabeth’s tooth reminded me of information I got from the Unnamed Woman over dinner yesterday.

She took the Older Child to the dentist because a filling had fallen out, whereupon it was discovered that he had a (fortunately painless) abscess under the tooth. The dentist is always quite snooty to the Unnamed Woman and always feels she has to remind the Woman what sort of foods are dentally appropriate for our children. The Unnamed Woman, being rather intelligent and healthy food conscious, never fails to take a bit of offence at this condescension.

Remarkably, the Ms Dentist was subdued. It turns out that the abscess was due to the dentist leaving something behind in Older Child’s mouth at the last appointment. The Unnamed Woman was a little pleased to see to the dentist bumped down a peg.

Little Ladettes

Two articles in the Daily Mail today reminded me of a conversation in a lesson yesterday, where some pupils were just incredulous that I only drink alcohol occasionally and never with the intention of getting drunk.

The first article, by Sarah Lyall, a correspondent for the New York Times and recent author of an ex-pat view of the British, asks in the headline ‘Why are you Brits such DRUNKS?‘. The answer could be related the title of the second article, “Mum branded a ‘disgrace’ after she buys 13-year-old daughter stash of alcohol to take on school charity walk“.

But the problem is that I talk to 13-year-olds every day, including yesterday, for whom getting drunk is regular behaviour. These are not down-and-out rough-and-tumble council estate kids with no hope. These are middle class kids from tidy homes. They can’t imagine being able to socialise or have fun without alcohol. The kids yesterday attributed my lack of regular drunkness to my wild religious fanaticism, you know, the fact that I believe in God.

But neither yesterday’s children nor my present school stand out particularly. At my last school, 14-year-olds regularly talked about going out and getting drunk. And it was not like they were sneaking out of the house to do it. Their parents preferred to know where they were, even if it was stumbling down the streets throwing up or urinating in alleyways, behaviour that was also well-known by their fellow pupils.

And I have seen it myself. My favourite kebab shop is for obvious reason right in the middle of the drinking establishments in our fair city. Any time from 8:00pm on, teenagers, usually wearing the slightest amount of fabric that could called clothes, and shouting the foulest language, wander up and down the lanes in drunken packs.

The one thing they all of these pupils have in common is that they were girls. It’s not that boys aren’t doing the same thing. Rather it seems to be the new expression of feminism – working very hard to equal, and now it seems outdo, the men. And if they are drinking like this in their early teens, think of what they will be like in a few years.

Experiencing Death

There was more wailing than at a Arab funeral. The Unnamed Children lost their first pet. Then they lost another. Then another. And another. All in one day.

It all started when the Unnamed Woman decided that Bubbles the goldfish needed friends. Bubbles belongs to the Older Child, who had become a bit selfish with him/her (Bubble’s gender is unknown). He didn’t even like the Younger Child participating in feeding Bubbles. Bubbles was moved downstairs and the Woman and Children bought another goldfish, Mr Mustachio, and some minnows and danios. Mr Mustachio was originally going to be call Monsieur Poisson, but that never caught on. His little black mustache was just too distinctive.

All seemed well until yesterday, when we bought a loach to clean the tank. Within hours, four of our little fish were dead. Then the loach died. Fortunately, the pet store that sold the little fish has a five-day guarrantee. The loach people weren’t so accommodating, which was especially irritating given that the available circumstantial evidence seems to focus on their fish as someone responsible for the death of the others.

The shock of death seemed to have worn off by this morning. When the Children got up, another little fish (I couldn’t tell you which kind, as I can’t really tell the minnows from the danios) was dead on the gravel. They took it matter of factly and the Younger Child declared, “Everyone dies eventually.”

The Unnamed Woman didn’t get any more little fish for now. Instead, she got another goldfish. The person at the pet shop said it was better to keep goldfish with goldfish. So now we have Goldie Lookin Fish.

Instead of the joys of watching the fish swim around in their tank, it is more like deathwatch. Will the last two little fish survive? Will the goldfish prove stronger than whatever killed the others?  The suspense continues.