Southerly by David Haywood

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Southerly: My Life As a Palm Tree

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  • Hebe, in reply to B Jones,

    To me, the cry of “we wrap our kids in cotton wool” is up there with zeitgeist cliches like “political correctness gone mad” and “boys are hurt by the feminised teaching environment”.

    As the mother of two boys and stepmother of one, and feminist from day one (brought up by a ground-breaking careerist mother in the 1960s), I totally disagree. Feminism to me was and is about the freedom for everyone to be themselves, celebrate their own strengths, and choose their path in life. I loathe its capture by narrow interest groups intent on bending people to their own narrow sisterhood views -- which to me are as bad as the old male monopolies of society and its institutions.
    "Wrapping our kids in cottonwool" is another talkback-grade cliche that disregards children's needs to be fed, loved and nurtured in a way that allows them to grow and learn healthily and become independent beings not passive couch-sitting sheeple ready to staff the modern version of factories.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Hebe, in reply to B Jones,

    To me, the cry of “we wrap our kids in cotton wool” is up there with zeitgeist cliches like “political correctness gone mad” and “boys are hurt by the feminised teaching environment”.

    As the mother of two boys and stepmother of one, and feminist from day one (brought up by a ground-breaking careerist mother in the 1960s), I totally disagree. Feminism to me was and is about the freedom for everyone to be themselves, celebrate their own strengths, and choose their path in life. I loathe its capture by narrow interest groups intent on bending people to their own narrow sisterhood views -- which to me are as bad as the old male monopolies of society and its institutions.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Hebe,

    I totally disagree.

    I guess I wasn't writing very clearly, since I largely agree with the rest of your post, particularly the "talkback-grade cliche" thing, which is the guts of what I was trying to say.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    And that is of course the point. This is actually a balance between preventing all possible harm and allowing children to learn by (sometimes painful) mistakes

    I'd go further and say for at least the 10th time on this site that considering only the balance of harms is blinkered in a major way too. If you think the counterbalancing consideration against the possible harm now is a possible harm later, and that is the only consideration, then I've got a real problem with that. The other thing that is lost is the enjoyment that the child might have got out of the activity. That is a good in itself.

    Balances of harms and pleasures. That's the Utilitarianism I believe in.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to BenWilson,

    Balances of harms and pleasures.

    I kind of took the obvious pleasure we all took in putting our bodies in harms way as a given.

    hmmm actively courting pain ... which thread am I in again?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I kind of took the obvious pleasure we all took in putting our bodies in harms way as a given.

    That's not the only pleasure I mean. I'm referring also to things that aren't pleasurable because they are dangerous. A child might like, for instance, climbing a tree, because the view is better up there. They might like to climb monkey bars to talk with the other children up there. Or they might just like the problem solving involved. Every pleasure is worth something to them, and has to be set against the potential dangers. It's often found wanting, but it should at least be added into the calculation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Not to mention, different kids have different pleasures. One of mine is a future mountain climber; the other is a future health and safety inspector. Sticking timid kids into environments that freak them out can show them their inner strength, or it can scar them for life.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to B Jones,

    Sticking timid kids into environments that freak them out can show them their inner strength, or it can scar them for life.

    That's not limited to timid kids. Every kid will have things that freak them out, and it's foolish to blind yourself to the difference between thrilled and terrified. Not much fun for the kid involved, either.

    I suspect I'm not unusual in managing to damage myself on a fair number of "safe" items of play equipment. I got stitches on my forehead from running head first into a safety barrier (I kid you not), and on the back of my head from sliding down a pole that had a nice rubber mat at the bottom. I don't actually know how I hit the back of my head on that, but it did involve jumping at the pole while running. Mind you, before I was 18 months old I had broken a bone in my foot by stepping boldly off the top of some playground structure and landing in "sqidgy mud" (my mother's term). Newton watched an apple, I stepped boldly into thin air than plummeted to the ground. Both of us discovered gravity :)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1232 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    Mind you, before I was 18 months old

    was four when I broke my arm and sustained a pretty solid concussion when I slipped while running around the edge of a good old tractor-tyre sandpit. Damn thing must have been all of 30cm high. I think I was in hospital for about a week.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22839 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to B Jones,

    Sticking timid kids into environments that freak them out can show them their inner strength, or it can scar them for life.

    Yes, I've never got over drama classes from childhood :-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Would that have been Nunhead Cemetery by any chance

    Close, but your cigar is withheld on this occasion. And not just because those things are deadly. Deadly, I tells ya! Our nanny state overladies frown severely on such pleasures!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Damn, just ran out of cigars and the Wild Turkey is low.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to B Jones,

    Sticking timid kids into environments that freak them out

    Ballroom dancing ... shudder

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Roger Lacey, in reply to JacksonP,

    You’ve just reminded me of Kiwi Ranch, near Hell’s Gate outside Rotorua.

    I spent a May school holiday at Kiwi Ranch in the mid 70's. It was getting a bit run down by then, half the activities were broken or out of bounds including the flying fox and monorail. The helter skelter was still open but had jagged rusty holes in the side that could have sliced off fingers, I think they might have closed it half way through the week. My main memories are of huge disappointment from the adventures promised in glossy brochure and intense boredom.

    Whatakataka Bay Surf Club… • Since Apr 2008 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Sj, in reply to David Haywood,

    Hi David. Great to see you've picked up your pen and are wielding it with all the old power and panache - and some! The Norway on my nerves piece was classic magic-from-mayhem Haywood; I felt like I was there, only without all the baggage.

    And all credit to you for chucking that barbed beast of bitterness off your back; sure, you're a better man than me.

    As to preschoolers-unleashed stories, you did ask...

    Oldest, on his first school visit, asked to join in the exercise of drawing a picture and writing a sentence to explain it, drew - pretty accurately - three sperm and five beads and wrote: "Here are three sperm (spelt 'spurm') and five beads." The New Entrant teacher provided one, cautious, clipped tick.

    Middle child (this week running for National Affairs officer for AUSA, incidentally), in front of other mums and under fives, in response to one of them suggesting that she might grow up one day to marry her best friend, offered a worried look in my direction before casting doubt on the idea for the reason that the boy's penis was far too small.

    And our youngest, preparing for a promising Playcentre trip to the local apple orchard, piled into a van with a number of other youngsters, sat next to a friend of his who was being issued with last-minute cautions by his mother, in his mother tongue that was not English, took it upon himself to tell the woman, ever so politely, to fuck off. I was not attending this trip, so had to hear about it later from the outraged mother. When I grilled said son about his reasons, after some thought, he said : "Ugly language" and he wasn't referring to his own. So much for the benefits of multicultural immersion.

    Belmont • Since May 2012 • 17 posts Report Reply

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