Monday, November 14, 2005

short little quick one before bed

today princess was home sick.

we watched a little bit of oprah.

someone on the show mentioned september 11.

princess said: mummy, what's september 11?

mg, [incredulous]: you don't know?

princess: no

mg: it's when the planes flew into the buildings... and the buildings fell down. in new york.

[no sounds of recognition from princess]

mg: it was about four years ago. 2001. five years ago.


mg: you don't remember that?

princess: no

[the news broke on september 12, 2001 here in melbourne. if you hadn't been up watching west wing or something and seen it unfold, then the next morning was when most people heard about it. my father had called. to say happy birthday to princess, on that morning on september 12, and to tell me how "bad things were happening in new york."

allow me to feel proud and smug that my daughter has not been tainted with the enormous fear that this created, and still we all refer to it. that things changed on that day.

well, on that day, her 5th birthday, the tv didn't go on. the radio didn't go on. even though we were all desperate to see what was happening. we played at happy birthday, until she was in bed, and then we rushed to the television.

for months afterwards, princess came home saying that kids at creche were still talking about the buildings falling down, and planes crashing. i had explained to her what had happened in the days after her birthday, because i knew there would be talk at creche and i wanted her to hear it from me. but she never saw a visual image of the planes, the buildings, that i know of. newspapers were carefully turned over. news was not turned on.

some might criticise my approach, or not understand it. they might say that she needs to know about the real world. she is nine. she is learning about the real world. but slowly, not all in one hideous rush of apocalyptic awfulness.

i work hard at keeping my princess' innocence. she has seen enough. she has seen her parents fight and divorce. she has seen her granny in hospital time and time again with tubes coming out of her, with her hair fallen out and sunken eyes. she doesn't see her father more than once a year. she's had food intolerances, hives, dentist issues, best friends leave the state, a budgie die, learning difficulties requiring extra work with an optometrist guy, had to deal with me going on dates with a man not her father, moved schools once, been robbed a few weeks ago, lived in st kilda where there'd be drunks and fights down on the street outside her bedroom window.

she loves her gigi, and her family. she is good at swimming, and likes to sing. she loves neighbours at the moment, she is picking how the plot will go even before i am [yes, saccharine and predictable, but ultimately harmless, and you know what, it's better than all the scary stuff at the moment.]

ps she doesn't like john howard. i'm afraid i haven't been balanced in my approach to politics with her. my mother, too, doesn't like howard, but she tells me i shouldn't be so strident in my condemning of him in front of the impressionable princess. my concession: i took the leunig cartoons off the kitchen wall, but it's too late. my little seditionist-in-the-making is well on the way to being an intelligent, compassionate and passionate social justice left-winger.


Nickyboy said...

I think you did right that day with your child. Must have come a surprise to you thta she didn't know. It will be a bit of trip for her when she gets older and they learn about they day though. No doubt it will be in the history books with whoevers spin on it. Something similar happened to me at one point in my life as well. I was away for 6 months and uncontactable and I found out afterwards about the Waco texas FBI bungle. Kind of rocked me that I didn't know. And by the way. John Howard is not a good role model for children. Again, I think you are doing the right thing there.

Dxxxx said...

Never doubt your skills MG - you are a brilliant mother and I say again, your princess is lucky to have you.


BEVIS said...

I agree with Dxxxx.

And I'd be interested to hear Princess' take on the current Neighbours plot developments ...


MelbourneGirl said...

thanks nickyboy and dxxxx. sometimes i wonder whether i protect her too much. but my instinct is it's not so.

onto more pressing matters. bevis, i'm glad you asked.

after we saw the episode where the red-haired boy made the crank call to susan, and izzy and paul handling the envelope and then possibly being poisoned, this is what she thought (mind you this is BEFORE last night's ep which bore out her soothsaying ability):

she didn't think the red-haired boy was the bomber, no way, for some reason he's just made those calls to susan. she said the bomber will be someone else.

she poo poohed my suggestion that the food harold brought might have been poisoned, or that they might THINK it had been. she said "but he's nice, he wouldn't do that". she also said paul and izzy didn't eat any of it. i said, but maybe they did, and we didn't see it. i'm not sure if this is a device used in neighbours, ie is there ever any referred-to action? that we don't directly see, or is it always laid out in front of us?

i admit the red-haired boy thing was fairly easy to work out, that it was a red herring type thing. there was something else she said but i've forgotten. i'll get back to you b. she was also very worried izzy would die. she likes izzy. izzy is her favourite, and i was madly trying to remember if i'd read anything in my trash mags about the actor leaving for a music career or anything. bevis, can you help me out? do you know what natalie bassingthwaite's contract is????

BEVIS said...

I would say that both Paul & Izzy will be around for a while yet - they're the major drawcards at the moment (and every show needs its "bad guys" to further the story and cause friction - which is what Paul & Izzy do best).

Natalie has a singing career on the side, and sometimes acts in stage musicals as well, but she hasn't given any indication that she'll be leaving the show.

(A good tip is to see who's gracing the covers of TV Week, etc - because if they're still promoting the show now, then they're definitely still going to be in it for another 6 months or so. If they finished filming scenes six months ago - when we'd be seeing those scenes now - they wouldn't still be doing publicity photos for them.)

Just a handy hint on how to know who's "going to die" ...

Dxxxx said...

Apparently Natalie & Rogue Traders are "playing" (and i use that term quite loosely) at Homebake, so I will let you know how her singing career is going... I too think she will be hanging around the neighbours set for quite a bit longer. If only to satisfy Roguey & Toady.


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Magical_M said...

What dxxxx said. Both times.

It makes me sound old, but kids grow up quickly enough nowadays... let them be kids for as long as possible I say.


Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

It's good to hear that you have instilled a hatred of John Howard into your little princess. I've successfully brainwashed my younger brother (he's 20); he's even stopped going to Church! (we come from a very religious family)

As for sheltering her from the world, on this issue I am of two minds. I understand your reasons for doing this and I agree with it to some extent.

However I also feel that the sooner people (Because that is what children are) are exposed to the reality of the world the sooner they can cope with it, and cope with it they will need to, as caring decent person cannot help but be shocked and despaired at the state of the world.

debs said...

Good for you. As a primary school teacher of prep/one, i see too many children who have been exposed to things that i belive to be completely inappropriate for their age. Allow children some time of innocence. We have so many years as adults, and very few as children.They will discover what they need to know soon enough.

Chai said...

But on the flip side, how long can/should you shelter them for? But it sounds to me like you're being a great parent.

MelbourneGirl said...

yeah i don't know, it's a real balancing act. and it really is an act sometimes. i don't know what the hell i'm doing. "female intuition" anyone?

we all muddle through life i think. i would be suspicious of the person who thinks they have it all sussed out. although i am a damn fine bluffer...

Tuppence said...

Melbournegirl and BEVIS:

Have you taken the Neighbours survey? It's on the Neighbours website ( and you get to say who you like, who you hate, and what storylines you'd like to see.

It's the best. I found it hard to stop.

MelbourneGirl said...

thanks tuppence. will get over there with princess tomorrow after school.