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Whenever I ring my brother and ask how he is, he invariably replies: “Tired and stressed”. It has to be said that he was fairly stressed before he had children, but perhaps a little less tired. “Whenever dad asks how you are, I tell him you’re tired and stressed,” I told him. “Well, I say the same about you,” said my brother, breaking off to tell his younger child not to point a sharp object at his sister. Our phone conversations tend to fairly quickly descend into a consideration of the state of the world. These are not very upbeat at the moment. “What did your brother say?” asked my partner. “Well, we discussed how we are very fast moving towards a World War type situation,” I said, trying to sound cheery. My brother is a historian. He’s not optimistic.
I have to admit that thoughts of the immense political failure of the EU governments have made concentrating on anything at all fairly difficult of late. And what do you say to the kids? They glimpse the news and at least some of them want to understand what’s going on. Others think the Octonauts are going to save the day, though it may be too big a job even for them. Daughter two is absolutely not into the news, mainly because it terrifies her. Daughters one and three are keen to talk about it. Daughter three is currently reading Anne Frank’s diary.
Only son actually asked for his own newspaper the other day. He sees me reading it every day and he’d like to be like mummy. I bought him First News, though he was a bit upset that it was a children’s newspaper and not the full adult version. I explained to him that some of the children’s newspapers are actually more grown up than the adult ones and he calmed down a bit while we read it together. It has to be said that his main interest is in any story relating to animals, in particular fish. Due to the educational prowess of the Octonauts, he has a very detailed knowledge of all types of fish, including ones with teeth that look eerily human.
One good thing about children is they don’t tend to dwell on the bad news as much as adults do, particularly if it does not immediately affect them. They get on with school and Octonauts and stuff. They endlessly play Spandau Ballet and Club Tropicana just because they know you 1) hated all Spandau Ballet songs bar the first one and 2) liked every Wham! track but Club Tropicana. They even create a whole dance routine around Club Tropicana. I told my brother about this. He had to endure my terrible musical tastes as a child, but then again he made me buy him an LP by something called Scraping the Foetus Off the Wheel in our local Our Price for his birthday one year. I think that more or less cancels out repeat plays of Freedom. “You do have bad musical taste,” he told me and then proceeded to say word for word the entire lyrics of You can have your credit card, baby, but keep your red hot fingers off of my heart lady. I told him it was a hymn to anti-capitalism and that subliminally it had affected his decision to study the anarchist movement in the 1930s.
Let’s hope the politicians have a good grasp of history as well as some ability to act for the greater good rather only thinking of their own narrow self interest.
*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of Workingmums.co.uk.