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Bobbling their way from innocence to experience

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Tiger, tiger, burning bright / In the forests of the night / What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

BobbleheadsI attempted at one stage to lodge snippets of Bill Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience into the minds of our children, a girl teen (13) and a boy tween (ten). Emily complained that 'symmetry' didn't really rhyme; Ben was and is more into dragons than tigers.

The question later pondered of Blake's tiger — 'Did He smile His work to see? Did He who made the lamb make thee?' — regularly confronts me, as my wife semi-mourns and I embrace the maturing process that is taking our children towards adulthood. Faced with the maternal litany to Stop growing and the paternal refrain of That's their job, the progeny can be rightly excused for deeming us sentimental headcases.

But innocence lost is wisdom gained. Isn't it? What's the price we pay for autonomy and alleged sentience? What do we lose in the transition?

Our kids have the innate ability to make their own fun out of life's absurdities; something that seems sadly lacking in many of us who are dubbed adults.

For our two rapscallions, my enfeebled efforts at puns and topical allusions run a poor second to fart, poo and wee jokes. Naivety is still a companion in our household, at least for now. It is a reassuring quality in an age of frenemies, sexting, cyber bullying and the like.

For example, Ben, in his innocence, has decided to christen his newly planted peach tree 'Woody'. A logical and champion choice, he maintains, considering his other peach tree is named 'Leafy'. His mother and sister beg to differ; but as it's unlikely the plant will be uprooted and taken to school for show and tell, he isn't likely to get teased, so the double entendre is a moot point.

Car trips are interspersed with much discourse on Pokemon, Final Fantasy, Minecraft, Plants Versus Zombies Garden Warfare II etc. During one recent trip, to augment the mis-en-scene of thunder clouds, sibling squabbling, iPads, Nintendo DSes and the radio, the family's youngest member insisted we purchase a scaled down, solar-powered model of the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Aaron Presley. 


"Culture, absurdity, power, and religion. Elvis, Mr Bean, Liz, and Jesus. A host of conversations and puns await our next road trip."


The Pelvis, microphone in hand, began boogieing atop the dashboard in all his bobble-headed glory.

Not to be outdone, a second purchase ensued from his sister. The King of British Comedy, Rowan Atkinson, joined his fellow entertainer to do his best 'I'm a teapot' jig (with Em loudly declaring the whereabouts of Mr Bean's spout).

On a roll, the clan matriarch then insisted that we install that dancing queen, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary II, between the two warring monarchs, in a right royal mambo à trois.

The Old Dart's longest reigning sovereign put the boys to shame until she put her hip out (the double-sided sticky tape failed to maintain her regal dignity during a sharp right-hand turn).

Lacking other bobbleheaded inspiration, I deferred to the others — until now. I have recently stumbled upon the Messiah, 'Jesus Waves', at a $2 shop. I expect that the quartet, like the four horsemen, will keep conversations lively when Jesus is affixed to the dash with his competition.

Culture, absurdity, power, and religion. Elvis, Mr Bean, Liz, and Jesus. A host of conversations and puns await our next road trip.

The chasm between innocence and experience is getting narrower.


Barry GittinsBarry Gittins is a communication and research consultant for The Salvation Army.

Topic tags: Barry Gittins, children, parenting, humour



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I just spilt my English Breakfast tea all over the keyboard.

Pam | 13 October 2016  

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