The big news: Casper is flying to New Zealand tomorrow evening with Mark, and the baby has developed a daily habit of ferreting through my lingerie drawer and discarding everything with a sassy flick of the wrist until he finds camisoles and singlets and chemises and negligees which he can wear as Elsa Dresses. Anything is an Elsa Dress, provided it has a thin strap, a swinging a-line, and a deep vee.
As for Casper, it seemed a most brilliant idea to send him to New Zealand with Mark, because Mark likes company, and Casper likes attention, and they both need a holiday in the sun. So we bought Casper a ticket without thinking the consequences through too much, and then went to have a quick word with the headmaster about getting approval to get Casper out of school for two weeks.
How do you think that went?
So my argument (in my head) went like this:
Casper is seven, and therefore a few weeks out shouldn’t be terribly detrimental to his chances at future success, because, well, he is seven. And so, like, his school work is probably fairly basic building-blocks foundation-y type stuff which shouldn’t be too tough to catch up with….right? Casper is perfectly bright, just a little disinclined to do his work. So, it’s not like a few weeks would permanently knee-cap him and send him spiralling downwards into a dangerous vortex of future substance abuse, unemployment and eventual life on the streets, right? And he could be sent to New Zealand with some homework, right?
Going travelling is good for your brain connections. You learn things that you couldn’t in a classroom, which is the very same rationale the school uses for school day trips and foreign exchanges.
Seeing your New Zealand family (some for the first time, some for the first time on five years) is a good thing for anyone to experience, right? Good for the whole child? A good way to meet some emotional and psychological needs in that tough little challenging boy?
Being with your dad and getting his full attention without having your annoying brothers getting in the way is a really good thing for a middle child who struggles with being part of a big family. And spending time with eager and enthusiastic grandparents who love you is a good thing for a kid who isn’t always sure about the whole love thing.
Going to another continent and hemisphere and being on a plane for about three days there and three days back is something to learn from, I am sure. Like how to sit still and how to sleep in a hard small seat and how to control your need to sing operatically on a fairly frequent basis. And then you arrive and look at the different landscape and people and notice a different language and cultures and maybe swim a little in the Pacific Ocean and get to eat a pie from a dairy and grandad may well take you out to inspect goats and sheep.
TELL ME THESE AREN’T GOOD REASONS TO LET HIM GO
Well, the school disagreed and said some things which made me cry, because they suggested that these good reasons were not bigger than the badder thing of taking him out of school for 12 days. And that the consequences of those missed days would potentially be pretty bad for Casper. And for the teacher and for his classmates and then the WHOLE WORLD. (They didn’t actually make this a global issue, but they may as well have done.) So I panicked and cried two times more and asked Mark to try to cancel the ticket and we both looked at each other with combined parental guilt and shame and then a few friends of ours said
STOP IT YOU IDIOTS
And then we thought, actually, it is the very best thing we could do for Casper and so everyone else can go find a carrot and sit down heavily on it.
As for the baby, I may have gone a little heavy on the Frozen soundtrack in the early days and so he loves a bit of Elsa, and I have never shied away from encouraging him to play with any toy, because I am normal and intelligent. And so his best things are his two baby dollies which he loves to cuddle and put to bed. And then one day he asked for an Elsa Dress and we fashioned a silky knee-skimming gown from an old lacy singlet and now that kid just OWNS the polyester fest that is my knickers drawer. Daily, he takes my hand and leads me to it and rifles through and asks me to tie up the straps with a PWEASE? and I am enchanted and I do it and he flits from room to room twirling with joy. On the weekend, we found some tights and someone plaited the legs and he wore them on his head as glorious blonde swingable tresses.
And to half the world, this is a boring non-story and to the other, it is a bit challenging. Mark was horrified, and cannot be comfortable with it, and says things like
‘You will confuse him’ and then offers him a Spiderman costume and I say
‘How is that less confusing?’ And ‘who’s confused anyway?’
And I imagine Otis sitting there as an adult, head in hands, wondering if he is a woman or a man or a spider, based on the terrible fact that his mother and father gave him various types of clothes to dress up in when he was a kid.
So it seems to me it is all based on some terrible fear of the vagina. An irrational, base fear that I cannot help to dispel except to continue to let my kid be a kid without taking any notice of adults being weird and repressed and making something normal seem to be not normal.
Here he is, playing and dressing up and being unfiltered by adult neuroses:
And that’s my brilliant, funny, gorgeous little kid, in an apricot peplum peeking out from weather-appropriate casual wear. And he is perfect.