Bianca is a young mother, the mother of two boys aged seven and five. Bianca would like to be seen not as any ordinary parent but a diligent one.
She likes her friends to know she is keeping abreast of modern parenting techniques. She holds animated discussions with other young mums, debating the consequences of this and that action when raising a child — for instance, the long-term danger of addiction to sugary drinks; or the vital need to brush and floss the teeth before going to bed.
As one mother recently pointed out, for all the brushing and flossing, Bianca’s two boys’ teeth still appeared to look abnormally yellow, which Bianca defended by blaming it on the vast amounts of herbal tea the boys were allowed to drink. Sometimes, instead of getting read bedtime stories, Bianca would give the boys a little talk about ethics. Or political correctness.
Bianca was ironing her office clothes for the next day while also watching. And so the film arrived at “one of those scenes” where the two leading actors, at a party, appeared as though they were about to embrace
“It’s a changing world,” she’d tell her fellow mums, “They should be prepared for it. And who better to prepare them than we parents.”
In this way, the boys are pretty cognisant about what they should and shouldn’t be saying in public, or to people. Micky, the five-year-old, recently told one of their visitors in full hearing of the others, “I mustn’t say you’re fat. Mum says it’s better to just say fat people are big made.”
Bianca’s face went a shade of beetroot but any embarrassment was avoided when the visitor laughed heartily, pulled Micky to her ample bosom and let him nestle there for a while, wrapped in the enormity of her largeness.
Another time, Mason, the seven-year-old, returned home from school in a terribly sulky mood. According to him, he’d lost his standing as “leader among men”, among his classmates.
Hit the hammer
Apparently, the boys and girls (it being a co-ed school) had been involved in a game of “hit the hammer”, a game which required a test of strength to see who could use a hammer and hit a button that in turn sent an arrow up and down a marked indicator, marked one to ten, which in turn showed who possessed the most strength.
Mason had, even before his turn had come, predicted he would score a ten. As it turned out he missed the button completely on all three tries, thereby registering a “zero” to the amusement of his mates. “It’s always wiser to choose a low score and then surprise everybody by scoring ten,” Bianca counselled him, after the event, adding, “Nobody likes a boaster, particularly one who brags and fails.”
And so it was that very night that the parents sat down to watch a movie together in their sitting room after dinner.
An adult film (but not too terribly adult) to which the boys had been neither invited nor shut out. Which meant that they kept wandering in and out of the sitting room, casting glances at the odd scene and leaving. Bianca was ironing her office clothes for the next day while also watching. And so the film arrived at “one of those scenes” where the two leading actors, at a party, appeared as though they were about to embrace.
Bianca held her breath. She’d talked to her boys already about acceptance. Out of the corner of her eye she could tell that her older son Mason was watching closely. Just as “the embrace” was about to take place, Mason let out a loud “Yuck!”
“Mason!” yelled Bianca, overreacting immediately.
“Mum, look,” said Mason in turn, “she’s drinking out of the same glass as her friend.”
Mason, for his part, was watching another aspect of the same scene, what was going on in the background at the same party.
— Kevin Martin is a journalist based in Sydney, Australia.