Monday, June 20, 2011

Of Chalk and Cheese, Childhood and Sex!

Being a mother, grandmother and great step-great grandmother, plus having spent some years as a teacher (including Reception) it is hardly surprising to have a deep interest in communication and the welfare of children.
We can learn a lot from little ones. The small child who volunteers his favourite soft toy to a hurting friend, the toddler who tries to give his comforter to the baby crying on the TV. Of course children, as they grow older, can also be jolly spiteful too and bite the hand of a playmate, or hit a pal with a toy. Were these children different when they were younger or did they lose their innocence? Exactly how much are children influenced by their environment?
My sister and I (two siblings left out of a family of six children) are totally different and always have been. We don’t look alike, we don’t speak alike, we rarely like the same things but we love each other dearly. Yes, as children we used to fight and argue. But being a little older than me she would look after me out there in the big bad world.
One Sunday, dressed in our best clothes, we were going for a walk. My sister stopped to see a friend while I watched older boys digging in a hole. Being nosy I wanted to see what they were getting out of the dirt. I soon found out. They called me over saying they wanted to show me something. Daft as ever, I did as asked. The boys stuffed worms up my sleeves, into my pockets and down my neck. I stood screaming like Violet Elizabeth from Crompton’s Just William. Come to think of it, those boys were rather like William! My sister came running to my rescue and her verbal attack put them to flight.
My sister often helped my dad with his repair work on engines and such, while I would be given sewing tasks, to do, trim my dad’s hair and be my mum’s hairdresser. From leaving school at fourteen, my sister picked up the swearing of her workmates. Not so me. I guess I took after my mum, apart from which I had witnessed the fury of my dad when he heard women (girls) swear! (He was pretty good at swearing himself but men were expected to swear.)
In a Reception Class you can see characters forming and that is a wonderful thing. So too, seeing their minds grow as they respond to teaching through word and their environment, exploration and discovery. What a shame much of what they learn as they grow older is far from life enhancing.
WE are born with certain drives to keep us healthy and ensure the continuance of the species. Are these drives traded on? Food is an obvious case. But has the whole of society, never mind children’s clothing, been sexed up and innocence lost? We see things on television that boggle the mind — not forgetting the other parts meant to be titillated. What is right and what is wrong? How can children judge these things when so much is thrown at them? How is that sex with children under sixteen is a criminal offense and yet we have so many young teenage pregnancies? Is it okay then for children to have sex with each other at a very early age but if one reaches seventeen then he or she is a criminal? The Pill was to solve the problem of unwanted pregnancies but it seems to have started a revolution of sexual freedom with young people pressed into sexual experience as many are into drink and drugs. Surely, ‘responsibility’ has been devalued, as has the joy of sex that goes hand in hand with lifetime loving partnerships. At least THIS is something we sisters are in agreement. Can’t think of anything else we totally agree about though!

Photograph — photo of us discussing the state of the country during our visit to Attenborough Nature Reserve (My sister lives many miles away and meetings are few.)

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