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?
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?
[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.