Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Neptune Enters Uranus

I was doing my usual, slow, art gallery-style wander through Chapel Street Bazaar recently with my son. You have to walk slowly in there. Lots of great stuff to look at. Nothing anybody actually needs of course, but nonetheless a fascinating journey through the history of records, glassware, tin pots and trilbies.

While the kid was pressing his sticky hands against a glass display case containing action figures of a bygone era such as Bugs Bunny* and The Smurfs**, I eavesdropped on the following conversation between an employee and the flakey proprietor of a similar, but much smaller, knick-knacks shop located just up the road in Windsor:

CSB Employee: How's Mathilda*** working out?

Flake: Oh you know, she works really hard, she's great with customers, she's really pretty, she's smart, I really like her and she really likes me but, unfortunately, I just found out she's a Capricorn.

CSB: Oh?

Flake: Yeah, I'm going to have to find someone else. I don't get along with Capricorns.

Flake's interviewing technique clearly needs refinement.


Here's song of the week. It's from Blur legend Damon Albarn's 'virtual' band Gorillaz. I'm quite partial to vocalists who sound like they're singing via a trans-oceanic pipeline. The album includes appearances by a number of guest vocalists including, surprisingly, that grumpy old cunt from The Velvet Underground Lou Reed.

Wari, this one is ok for 9 year olds (I think - what do I know about 9 year olds?) unless he/she is particularly fond of jellyfish.

*May not actually be an action figure.
** Certainly not an action figure
***Names have been forgotten changed.


Ramon Insertnamehere said...

That hippie was just lucky Pers. wasn't with you.

I quite liked that song Bob, but I've been a big Damon Albarn fan since Blur days.

wari lasi said...

Thanks Bob. She is getting much better (worse?) at over-the-shoulder looking these days. And us parents realise too late that our kids have become very proficient readers.

When your lovely 9 year old daughter says, "Dad, what's a cunt?" it's like being physically slapped across the face. I wait nervously for DOCS to knock on the door...

Lewd Bob said...

"Dad, what's a cunt?"

Well, what are you waiting for? Tell us!

wari lasi said...

I think she may have even seen "cunt cunt". Which is even harder to explain.

And Bob, I assume you've got the lowdown on Perseus. Is he ok? Or just keeping a low profile?

Anonymous said...

The upside to having to explain these things, Wari, is that you should only have to do it once.

Well, per child, I guess.

But seriously, how do you respond to that kind of question?

squib said...

I don't know why, I find the whole cartoon music video thing annoying

Except this one which is ace

Wari, LS (7) has an itouch and she has a Learn Spanish app. Recently we realised she was learning the Spanish for "I need some condoms"

Melba said...

I'll tell you how to respond to that question, Alex and wari. You tell them that "cunt" is a slang word for vagina, and depending on their age, then have a conversation about appropriate language and say that some people find it very offensive and that it's a very strong word. You can talk about bum and botto being kind of soft slang words and that there are stronger ones as well. A 9-year-old probably knows some of the stronger ones, they hear all types of shit in the playground and from older siblings.

I am one of the select few registered teachers in Victoria who has said "cunt" in front of primary school children in a classroom, after having it proposed by one of the students in a brainstorming activity. Very brave child that said it. Or maybe didn't realise quite what they were saying. They had the right context though.

Anonymous said...

I admire your no-nonsense approach, Melba. I have a nephew (4) who's just started to pick up some swear words, and explaining why some language is inappropriate is something I struggle with.

"Why can't I say 'cunt', A*, why?"

"Just because", is such a lousy answer.

*Short for Alex

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I find a simple "Because I'm your father" generally works for me.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

On and BTW Alex, I finally found your Huntsman 3-D movie poster.

What an absolute cracker!

Lewd Bob said...

Wari, I suspect Perseus is no longer willing to put his ever so entertaining personal life in a public forum. Perhaps his anonymity was fading. I dunno.

Why he did so at all is anyone's guess.

When my son was about 2 or 3 he was sitting in the back seat of the car. A guy pulled out in front of me. I said "Oh you..." and stopped myself. My son, however, completed the sentence with "...fucking idiot."

At least he didn't say 'cunt'.

wari lasi said...

Squib, that's a hoot! I'd be checking what app she was running though. Emma gets all her Spanish from Dora and Diego.

This is all quite educational. Thanks Melba. And Ramon, sort of. I do a hell of a lot of, "Because I said so".

We went down a similar track, except "vagina" sets her off laughing. "I don't know, it's just funny". "Where you pee out of" works ok at the moment. She came home recently saying that one of the girls at school said babies come out of there. I told her that was true. She said, "It's too small. My friends think a baby comes out of your mouth." For the moment she won't be swayed and I think that can wait a little longer.

Melba said...

Best rule of thumb wari and any other interested parents: when they ask the questions, answer them directly and accurately. If they are two or three years old they don't need to know all the details. Where do babies come from? They come from mummy's tummy. How do they get there? Daddy puts a seed in there and it joins with mummy's egg and the baby grows from that. Generally they only ask what they are ready to know unless they've been exposed to something that has confused them and is too old for them.

These sorts of explanations will hold them until later. Generally. They don't need to know about sex UNLESS they ask. Then it's the same thing. You can say it's like a special type of hug (which it is) but then when they back you into a corner and pin you down, tell them as best you can in as straight and calm and offhand a voice as you can manage: the man puts his penis into the woman's vagina. That is what sexual intercourse or sex is.

For kids to know about their bodies and about sex and have that accurate information, it's important for their development but also for protective behaviours. If they can label their body parts it's the first step to being able to feel they own their bodies and can say no to touching or behaviour that makes them uncomfortable or is wrong. Needs to be happening from very young I reckon.

Wari, it's normal for them to get the giggles when they hear the word vagina if they aren't used to hearing it. I've never used euphemisms, so my daughter was using the word vagina and even vulva (she called it her "oliver" when she was about three. When I teach (this exact subject) we do the brainstorming of all the slang words for penis, vagina, breasts, testicles just to get the giggles out as much as possible. This is the activity when the boy said "cunt" for vagina.

[end Prof Melba]

Melba said...

Wari you need to tell her a baby doesn't come out of someone's mouth. She's looking to you for the truth isn't she?

She's nine, she needs to know it's bullshit and then she can tell her friends it's bullshit.


Dr. Golf said...

I remember thinking babies came out of the bum.

I explained my theory to some of my school friends at play lunch. Some of them concurred, however others were skeptical. When we went back to class they asked the teacher about my theory. Not my finest hour.

Melba said...

Well at least that's closer than the mouth, Dr Golf.

wari lasi said...

Ok ok.

Us single Dads stress out a bit about this. I'm really desperate to retain her innocence as long as possible. Or is that a cop out?

I appreciate your advice Melba. Ta. I think she gets it that the baby comes from down there. She knows I'm very clever about these things.

Puss In Boots said...

I find it odd that a 9 year old would even entertain the possibility that babies come out of the mouth.

I remember when I asked where babies come from when I was very young (probably about 5 or 6), my mother gave me a book called Where Did I Come From?. I think it handled the subject pretty well. I probably didn't understand it much at the time, but I read it a few times until I was about 12 or so and everything finally clicked into place.

As Melba said, I think education is the best thing for young people, so they can protect themselves. If sex is treated like a taboo subject at home, you are at risk of raising children who make costly mistakes later on, or who end up with sexual hang ups which affect their ability to form lasting relationships.

Maybe seek out that book, Wari, and give it to her to read?

Anonymous said...

Ramon said: What an absolute cracker!

Oh, you big ol' flatterer.

And: I find a simple "Because I'm your father" generally works for me.

Don't think that one's going to fly for me, Ramon.

Wari said: I'm really desperate to retain her innocence as long as possible. Or is that a cop out?

I don't know about a cop out, but I don't think it's a very good idea.

Dr Golf said: I remember thinking babies came out of the bum.

I knew a boy in year twelve who still thought that was the case. I teased him mercilessly, because I was a horrible, nasty person.

Thinking back, it makes me almost certain that schools should be teaching these things from a reasonably young age, to make up for parents who aren't cutting the mustard in that department.

By the by, Where Did I Come From is also available as an animated video which I remember thinking was reasonably well done when I watched it twenty years ago. Times and expectations do change though.

Personally, I don't remember ever needing to be told about any of this. Living on a farm, birth, sex, and death were all things you just dealt with every day.

Anonymous said...

And finally, Bob said: Wari, I suspect Perseus is no longer willing to put his ever so entertaining personal life in a public forum.

I know I'm in the minority here, but I wasn't that big a fan of Perseus' posts about his sex-life. I was, however, a big fan of the stuff he used to write about art, literature, sport, politics, religion, the media, etc, etc; even if I didn't agree with a sizable chunk of it.

And the arguments he had with Boogeyman were legendary.

Melba said...

'Where Did I Come From' is still around, it's a bit dated but it does handle ithe subject pretty well.

I understand wari as a single dad it's pretty confronting for you and you can worry that it can be inappropriate for a father to talk to a daughter about this stuff. It's not and you can do it. Even as a partnered dad my husband finds it all terribly difficult. Luckily he has me to get him through.

We tell kids in schools about the other gender - boys learn about periods and conception and girls learn about erections and wet dreams. We tell them it's because one day they might have a wife or husband or be father/mother to a child of the opposite gender.

I understand what you are saying about her innocence but at nine she might need to know some more stuff, especially if SHE is bringing it up (dead giveaway). Be comforted that she trusts you enough to bring it up - not easy for kids at all. It's hard on both sides, the last thing kids want to talk to their parents about is sex really. But at nine she's almost at beginnings of puberty (if not already starting) and it's a confusing and tough time with lots of misinformation and rumour. Don't think kids these days are any more clued up than we were. They're not. It's still as mysterious and strange as when we were learning about it.

I've just read back over your comments and you're doing a great job wari. The fact that she's talking to you about this stuff shows it, just don't shut down! I'm available for hand-holding if you like!

wari lasi said...

Thanks Melba, and Alex, and Puss, and Squib, and ... She's a fairly well adjusted kid, but her whole story would freak you out a bit. Did it freak you out Witchie? Her mother (who passed away while we were at Hong Kong Disneyland, of all places) was a village girl, and Emma's visits there were at times confronting to say the least. To a degree she actually shies away from some of the more, what's the word, delicate stuff. Whilst I don't want to leave her ignorant (she's a bright girl) or unprotected, I'm not in a mad rush.

I get a lot of support from other expat women here, and my Thai lady friend (fiancee) has been living here for 9 months now. Emma just naturally drifts toward her more and more. Which is nice, but it's still early days. Emma is very much a Daddy's girl.

Puss, I remember Where did I come from? Wasn't there a puberty follow up called What's happening to me?