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Perhaps slightly off the strand of your more intellectual debate, I was reminded by these comments about something I read recently while following up adoption-related sources.  This post talks about dealing with honesty with a child's questions about the tooth fairy.
by canberra boy (canberraboy1 at gmail dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:37:06 AM EST
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These are the harmless lies we tell children to lighten up their lives. My mother tells me that, as a little child, she would get me to stop crying about losing a balloon by telling me that I shouldn't be sad because the balloon was happily flying to "the land of balloons". And I believed it. Sort of like the stories we tell ourselves about an afterlife to soothe the pain of bereavement.

The problem is, how do we (and do we) deal with the poisonous lies we tell children to scare them and control them? The boogie man, the "man with the bag", or "gypsies will come and take you away"... Do we ever bother dispelling the fear, the mistrust, or the prejudices we sow?

There are political lessons to learn from these light topics.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 07:50:11 AM EST
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You're right, the scary lies are a real problem. We left a present at our neighbours' door for their little boy, who's three. Later his dad came by with him to thank us. And for some reason started using Santa (le Père Noël) on his son as a bogeyman (which is historically one of Santa's cultural roots, in French le père fouettard, the whipping old man): (finger pointed to sky) "he can see you, he can see you're naughty..."

Here we are, floating around on a sea of past time, with this kind of atavism bobbing up around us. Why should a young man (outwardly very successful, runs a money-making business) of thirty-odd talk like this to his three-year-old? And what do you do, beyond (which I did) look the kid in the eye and say, "no, you're not naughty at all"?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 12:41:00 PM EST
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Maybe it was a slip of the mind/tongue, and your neighbour thought he was actually talking to his wife. "You'w wewy wewy naughty, I'm going to spank you". No, I'm just going for a cheap joke, maybe this guy has a particular way of expressing his emotions to his kid (some people for example find it hard to say emotional things, and maybe this guy always resorts to negative metaphors when he's trying to reach for his emotions, who knows). Or maybe you're right and this guy is just not careful about what he's saying. Or maybe the guy is a control freak at home who can't expect that his kid is ever happy. Whatever the cause, you're right to tell the kid he's not naughty!

This paragraph of mine is really about who people really are behind closed doors. Who knows how people really are, in the cosiness of their homes. Who knows what they say to their kids, or do with their partners!

I had this one telecom teacher, a nice, gentle guy, who'd command some authority with his pupils without being scary. And one day, this was maybe ten years ago, for some reason I was watching "Ca se discute" (even back then it was already a cheap debate tv show) with a few friends. The topic was "sex something", the kind of topic you'd expect to see on this show. So here we were with all the mainstream and less mainstream sex fads and habits ... blabla and blabla ... and then we come to "sado-masochism". We get to see this guy in a latex suit, with a mask on, being treated like a dog by this woman in another latex suit. It's kind of silly really, almost funny. She makes him drink and eat off a plate on the floor, tells him he's a bad dog, then pats and scratches him etc. After this short clip, the guy  takes the mask off to give an interview (for the show), and ... it's my teacher!! He then gives this speech on freedom to do what you want at home, to not be judged for what you are at home, and concludes with some citation about men being to society only what society can perceive them as being. Interesting. Me and a few friends who had that teacher (not all did) initially laughed, and then after a short while, we actually thought "wow, that man's got balls, going on TV like that". And we all agreed that we could have never thought/imagined that this soft-spoken but somewhat charismatic (and liked) teacher, had this secret about him.

by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:27:15 PM EST
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Disclaimer: as I was a pothead in those days, I'd watch a lot of TV. Now, not only do I not watch TV (save for some matches), but I also wouldn't imagine watching "ça se discute", which is, for non-informed people, a bit like the "Oprah Winfrey" show, but in a "disguised to look more intellectual but really being much cheaper" way.
by Alex in Toulouse on Sun Dec 25th, 2005 at 02:29:55 PM EST
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