Using kids as conduits

Politics, Community & Society | June 26, 2009

Is it wrong to use your children to fetch you stuff, make you cuppas, do the chores you don’t like doing or even act as the subconscious mediator for a family feud?

I have a 17-month-old boy. He has hit the "little helper" stage and I feel like I have to make the most of it before he grows out of it.

I’ve got a very small window of opportunity here.

It won’t be long before his continual urgings to sweep up or take something to the rubbish bin or bring me my shoes are replaced with annoyed moans, dismissive tut-tutting, eye-rolling or, worse, explosive tantrums all to communicate that he most certainly will not take the bins out.

Admittedly, his sweeping or shoe-sorting does not save me any time. It does the contrary, in fact, as he doesn’t so much sweep, as spread the crumbs further afield and he doesn’t so much bring me the one pair of shoes I need, as drop them all Hansel and Gretel-like from one end of the house to the other.

I have found another "use" for him in the past few days. My partner and I have had a disagreement about money. My partner spent a lot of money on a very out of the ordinary, and I think totally unnecessary, purchase without consultation and we live on one of the tightest budgets I have ever had to adhere to.

Anyway, I find that I am still so incensed by that purchase that I can’t quite bring myself to speak to her directly. But if I need to communicate something to her, I use my son.

Scenario One: it is morning, I am getting ready for work. I smell the unmistakable aroma of dirty nappy as my son toddles by. I realise that I have no time to change the nappy. I would normally ask my partner to change him, please, but this morning, I cannot for reasons outline above.

Action: Speak in raised baby voice to son: "Go and ask mummy to change your nappy because I am too busy getting ready for work". He cannot speak, so there is no way he will be able to do that.

But in a smug, and slightly immature way, I feel I have made my point.

I won't bore you with the other 15 scenarios here, because they all end in the same action: speak in raised baby voice, projected in the direction of my partner, but cleverly hidden as discourse between myself and my son.

Poor child. He may as well be a vetriloquist’s dummy.

The older I get, the more I notice the increasing existence of cycles in life. With each birthday this realisation comes, because, like an image on a Polaroid picture, it takes time.

Music, the economy, fashion, clashes between the generations are all endlessly recycled and, no matter how much we swear we won’t, we will become incarnations of our parents. It’s the unstoppable cycle of life.

Death follows life, bust follows boom and reconciliation follows fight.


1. DearKorea on November 16, 2009


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About Rebecca Marshall

I have been a journalist in regional Australia for about 14 years, first in South Australia (television) and now on Queensland's Sunshine Coast (newspapers).
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