Friday, July 18, 2008

Cotton Wool kids

Regular readers will be well used to me going off on one about the Mail, Express and occasionally other tabloids but tonight I'm afraid my wrath is going elsewhere. Tonight it is aimed at the Guardian and specifically this article by Maggie Brown

I read this and despair, I really do. So I'm going to dissect this crock of shit bit by bit.

I'm not even sure where to begin. So lets kick off with the very beginning, a very good place to start (according to Mary Poppins).

"Ever since my son became a Scout four years ago"

Right, if her son became a scout 4 years ago then he is presumably 14 and almost certainly a patrol leader. This means that this writer's son has been selected as someone with the maturity and responsibility to look after younger kids both at scouts and on camp. This woman should be proud of her son.

"I have bought the line that this century-old movement is a very good thing for boys,"

The first hints of cynicism here I think, and complete ignorance as well. We've let girls in since 1989 love, or hadn't you noticed? FFS, you would have thought the Guardian of all papers would have been aware of this. Clearly not

"In fact my son's troop is booming so much it has had to move the annual meeting to a bigger venue"

OK Maggie, wakey wakey. Your son's troop is fighting kids of with a stick. Much like groups across the country. Are you aware that there are 80,000 kids on scout and guide waiting lists across the country? Are you? Clearly not. And has it occurred to you why that might be? I'll leave you to think about that one for a while. We'll come back to it later.

"For the second year running I'm starting to question what is character-forming or even much use about spending 10 days under canvas in the middle of boggy fields as the rain pours down relentlessly."

Look Maggie, be honest, do you really think that the deliberate aim of camp is to sit kids in the middle of a muddy field and let them get wet? Really? Are you as dumb as you sound? I bloody well hope not. The point is all about self reliance. It's a point we'll return to.

"The clumps of patrol tents and cooking fires looked like a refugee camp, spread out under a grey sky. Wet clothing fluttered on makeshift bits of string in a vain attempt at getting them dry."

And I suppose that sunny Islington or wherever it is you live looked absolutely spiffing in the rain didn't it? Has it occurred to you to think about what your son is getting out of this? this sense of responsibility not just for himself but for his mates as well? I remember camping in a mud bath, I remember lending my dry kit out to those that had run out. Doesn't it make you proud that your son was probably doing just the same thing? Doesn't it?

"I know, the stock response is that boys like this sort of thing, they don't notice the discomfort, they like being free to roam, build fires, go cycling down exhilarating country lanes with barely a tractor to contend with, and try out activities such as riding and sailing."

Have you wondered why that response might be? Is it because maybe, just maybe, it might be true? Kids love going out and having an adventure, of trying something new, of pushing themselves to their own limits. It is a hell of a lot better than being sat in front of a tv screen, i can guarantee you that. Look at the list you wrote in the sentence, would you rather your son did those or sat at home with his play station. And think carefully before you answer. Please.

" My son, by the way, has just returned with a suitcase of damp clothes, ponging to high heaven. I asked him what it felt like to be home.

"Weird," he replied. "Everything is so easy." With that he went, voluntarily, for a deep bath (leaving it filthy), fell on a roast dinner, collapsed in bed and slept around the clock. "

So your son has worked hard, has appreciated what an easy life he has at home, has looked after himself and others and can physically put up with nasty weather and, it would seem is happy to go back for more, and you're moaning? You seem to want to wrap your son up in cotton wool and stop him learning these lessons. What the fuck are you thinking?

With parents like this then what chance have kids got of growing up with any back bone whatsoever?

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