Took the offspring to a 6th birthday today: and what do you know? the question came up! Yes it did! It really did! I trotted out my remark, and got an uncomfortable silence with facial expressions, followed by a question about whether I have yet discharged the mandatory parental responsibility of making my child watch Star Wars. (I have not done this, because Lenny is five, and moreover Star Wars is pallid, reactionary rubbish, although I didn't bother explaining this to the interlocutor.) So that's that.
I need to get a bingo card going. Just got to consider whether to make it entirely real estate-themed, or to somehow nest the real estate questions within one square of a broader grid of birthday party happenings. The latter option would also include:
- blue cake
- generalised negativity about pass the parcel and whether or not there should be a prize concealed inside each layer of wrapping. The only acceptable attitude to this question is to not give a shit either way.
- Only boys invited
- conversation about Lego storage solutions
- sugar and weapons distributed to children, coupled with half-hearted and ineffectual riot policing
All these kids today, all of them boys (this is the first time we've been to a single-sex party, and I hope it will be the last) were given some chocolate to eat, then shortly afterwards a small number of light sabres and swords were handed out. The inevitable ensued. Those four or five children who could not properly join in the battle because they did not have weapons turned to pinning the oldest child against a fence and trying to choke him. My kid was helping with the choking, and as he often does, shouting instructions to the others at the same time. He has very sophisticated communication skills!
As you know, I work in a war memorial. There, around the topic of mass violence, there is no awkwardness or embarrassment. It's discussed incessantly, and among the people who are involved in that discussion are people who have killed human beings, people whose friends have been killed in front of them, anti-war activists, peace campaigners, people who have been shot, stabbed, bombed, and lost limbs, people with PTSD, career servicemen and women, conscripts and volunteer enlisters, war nuts, ex-military peacekeepers, people bereaved by war, refugees from war, and offspring and family members of people in those categories too. This is in stark contrast to the world where I live and where Lenny goes to school, where I think there is almost nothing but awkwardness and embarrassment about discussing fighting, especially the fighting that is done by kids. (I'm not talking about breakdance fighting, obviously that is totally ok.)
When I see children fighting, and using toys that adults have given them to fight with, I'm not shy about intervening. This morning I gave the kids rules about how to play so that they would not actually hit and hurt each other, and I enforced them. Add to the bingo card a bullshit conversation about how boys are innately interested in fighting so what can you do?
Tangentially related, at least in my mind: this is very good news.