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Monday, November 05, 2007

Unravelling the Devil's work

I am neither a soothsayer nor a sales person, but I would hazard a guess about the trajectory of many a child. They commence dabbling with dinosaurs, trundle into Thomas and his rabble, plunge into Pokemon and then yield to Yugio. After that, I seek input.

Each of these phases results in considerable financial investment by the parent, no matter how reluctant. To be fair I was quite happy with the first two, but seriously troubled by the third. To me, Pokemon were the lowest of the low, nasty, cheap little figurines. Although I knew nothing about them at all, I disliked the cartoons which to my untutored eye had an air of violence and brashness.

With all their obsessions to date, eventually, I have reluctantly capitulated. If you can no longer tempt a child to put a foot through their trouser legs with a smiley Thomas face, you have few options but to put a Pokemon scowl there instead, if you ever how to achieved 'dressed' status.

After two years in the Pokemon phase of development, they have infiltrated every nook and cranny of our daily existence. Their purposes as so many and varied, that life would come to a half without their motivational force. Now that I have watched the cartoons, I would acknowledge that they are largely innocuous, no worse and no better than others of their ilk. The predominant theme is 'good triumphs over bad,' which overall could be a darned sight worse. But I digress.

Firstly, I should point out that no-one is to blame for dropping little triggers into my children's life. I'm all for free speech, but sometimes a casual comment can worm it's way in to someone's psyche with unforeseen consequences.

I tuck them all in at night. Whilst I chat to his brother, I can hear the occupant in the next bed 'self talking': 'weavil, deevil, evil, meevil,' interspersed with giggles and mouth breathing gusts. I come to him, last one, the little one, his turn. Nearly seven already but with a speech delay. The 'delay' is catching up, the gap narrows. He may sound like a four year old with a mouth full of marbles but that should not deceive us.

"What it is?"
"What is what dear?"
"Dah 'evil'?"
"Evil? Well it's the worst of the worst, the baddest of the bad." He gasps wide eyed and claps his hands over his mouth, a sealant. I wait for further and better particulars.
"But dey are not dah badest of dah bad, day are da good guys!"
"Who are the good guys?"
"Da Pokemons!"
"Er yes, I think you're right. They are the good guys," I agree, wondering what the real issue is here?
"But, but, but.......she is telling dah lie?"
"Who is lying?"
"Da teacher!"
"Which teacher?"
"Da teacher who is being at my school."
"Which teacher?"
"Da one who is saying dat the Pokemons dey are evil."
Whilst I am tempted to ask again, I doubt if I will gain any further relevant nuggets of information. For them, like many children, most situations are black and white, the grey areas are few and far between. Now we have reached an impasse. Teachers are a given 'good,' therefore they do not lie. It's an area of cognitive dissonance, both facts cannot be true at the same time. He starts to bleat as his brain whirs to try and resolve the dilemma.
"You know how you like Goldfish?"
"Um...er.......yes." He pauses whilst my brain whirs too.
"You think they're the greatest, right?"
"Er.....yes." After each utterance he clamps his hands back over his mouth to stop additional words escaping in or out.
"You know that I don't like Goldfish right?"
"You don't like em?" He sounds genuinely.
"Have you ever seen me eat them?"

"Er no.."
"Why do you think that is?"
"Er.....coz I am a bad sharer?" Brilliant!
"Good answer, but no, it's because I don't like them, they're yucky for me." His eyes are on stalks of disbelief.
"But everybody......!"
"Not everybody. You remember people like different things?"
"And dislike different things."
"Er.....and fink different things?"
"Spot on! That's right. It's o.k. for people to think different things."
"She are not lie?"
"It's not a lie if that's what she thinks is it?"
"Er....no.....da o.k., ......I fink."
Horray! Now that's an outcome that I would never have predicted a few years ago, but I did mention that I'm a bit remiss in the fortune telling department. That's all we really want, just a little tolerance. It can go such a long way.

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