Posted on Tuesday, August 10, 2010
in Family, Something to think about, Taboo
Reward the good, ignore the bad. That’s the advice I got where child discipline is concerned, harvested from many hours scanning blogs and rollercoaster forums. It’s good advice, it seems to work, with a bit of naughty corner thrown in occasionally and the odd zap from a cattleprod.
It works too well though. Puppychild is a good kid. She listens, does what she’s told, has confidence and is always eager to please. This is because I reward her good behaviour with heartfelt thanks and trinkets… many many trinkets and comics that pile up in corners and Kinder Surprises jamming doorways. It feels like I’ve messed it up, like I’m pushing the idea that materialism is the best reward. Her trinkets are starting to own her, I’m teaching her to be owned by clutter, just like I am.
I want to show her what appreciation at its most base level feels like, to feel that vast connectivity with life itself in its carbon-based efficiency and appreciate the fact that we’re not Blobfish, but that’s very difficult for a kid who can’t see past her own curly straw.
How I felt after my first bikini wax
Then I found the link to Plan Ireland floating around Irish Taxi’s blog.
I remember the bleakness of Jack Nicholson’s character in About Schmidt, how throughout the film he fails to create a single connection with somebody, even his own daughter…anybody. It’s painful to watch. The bleakness thickens and threatens to envelop the character entirely towards the end of the film and it seems that he’s plummeting towards the edge of nothingness, but then Schmidt gets a letter… a kiddie coloured–in picture from Ndugu, a child he’s been writing months of emotional diarrhea to in faraway lands, and it evokes a beautiful reaction. Such a profound thing, to touch a soul thousands of miles away with a waft of a well-timed token.
Our letter arrived today. I showed Puppychild a picture of a little girl in Malawi who is the same age as her. Her mum is the same age as me. They smiled at us from printed photographs and we connected and Puppychild thought it was nice that she didn’t have to walk for a kilometre every day before school to get water for her ma.
When I had closed the atlas and finished explaining how basic our lives could be, kiddo set about drawing a picture for her little African counterpart of herself and herself holding hands in a savannah.
They shall grow up together and teach each other many things, two souls learning from parallel worlds.
I long to share a bottle with her mother by a roaring fire and have her tell me of stories of dancing and sisters and daughters who are stolen by Gulu Wamkulu people, how she bails her kids out with offerings of chickens and money, how fearful she is of her people’s traditions. Fearful of traditions. That sounds familiar!
So we post back. And we wait.
I hope they don’t find each other on Facebook first.