Children spend a lot of time trying to come to terms with the difference between fantasy and reality. The line is very blurred when they are small, but one would hope it would get a bit sharper as they get older.
The early part of the week seemed to be consumed by an eery stillness as the waiting game continues. I went to Westminster and although there were lots of protesters and police with machine guns on display, it seemed much quieter than when I went in December. All the action is taking place in backrooms and cafes. At some point the talking will stop and fantasy will collide with reality. It’s just a question of time. Then who will get the blame?
If children fight the first thing that they do when a parent comes in is to blame someone else. Often it is not someone who is in the room or even the home. Brexit seems a bit like that. When will the grown-ups take control?
I often wonder what goes on in children’s minds because they are processing a lot of information from different sources, but are not entirely sure which is real information and which is made up. It’s not just the internet. It’s an age-old process of working out what is real, what is likely and what is not. Take Santa or the tooth fairy. To them, they are utterly real, even if the Primark label is clearly visible on the socks, pants, etc. They must be produced by the Primark in Santaland, they reason.
Then there is science. How do they distinguish between all the stuff that could potentially happen and the stuff that is happening now? I was in the car with only son the other day. I had him on black ice alert. “Just check for puddles that might be frozen over,” I said. “Wow, there is so much that you have to think about when you are driving a car,” he said. “Asteroids coming from above, other cars…” Asteroids was definitely my biggest concern.
We’ve been doing a project on the Stone Age this week. Only son wanted to make a paleo recipe after seeing all the fruit bars in the shops that appear to follow a paleo theme. I read him out a bit about what Stone Age people actually might have eaten. “Raw eyeballs,” he said in disgust, feeling suddenly rather glad that he was living in the 21st century.
He’s been having a challenging week because the long awaited Christmas present of the DVD of The House With a Clock in the Walls has arrived and he watched it enthralled. He has been looking forward to it ever since seeing it at the cinema, but it is a bit scarier than he remembered. “I don’t think I will sleep tonight,” he said. I asked if he had ever seen a manic-looking pumpkin spewing goo. He reasoned that he had not, but he wasn’t going to risk being in bed on his own with the potential for crazed pumpkins to glue him in. He came into our bed.
“Maybe we could watch Lego Batman instead,” he said. “Would you like that, mum?” I mentioned to him that I was not a big fan of cartoons or of Lego – what about ET or a nice musical instead? I could hear a withheld laugh coming from my partner’s side of the bed. “It has romance in there too, mum,” said only son, thinking that would seal the deal. “Between Batman and the Joker.”
He has become a bit obsessed with superheroes so prevalent are these comic symbols of our collective desire to return to childhood in our culture. “I would like to bulk up like that,” he said of their sculpted bodies. He has been watching videos about them all and how they’ve acquired super abs. I’ve been so worried about the teenage girls and perfect bodies that I’ve taken my eye off the ball that boys are now also being subject to fantasy expectations about their bodies.