Big Socks and Testicles

Oh, sweet Lord, where did this come from? I first thought it was the three-and-a-bit vin blanc spritzers that had me feeling a little off this morning, but roll on lunch time and I was shivery and my head felt like someone had filled it with concrete. Monkey had a temperature earlier in the week, and clearly now it’s my turn. As I write this, I’m sitting on the bed in a tank top, window open but I’m sweating like an overweight trucker – my forehead is literally glistening.

So my plans for today pretty much went out the window, in spite of my initial refusal to accept I have a fever. Kept on as usual, but when hoovering just a fraction of the living room left me feeling like I’d just run a marathon and the sweat was pouring off me, it was time to admit defeat. Hence, today I have achieved fuck-all beyond reading the news. Mid-afternoon I was freezing cold again, so had a hot shower, arms aching when I shampoo’d my hair, totally exhausted. At least I spoke to the editor and agreed stages for when we’ll review my writing – I’m going to send her the first 50 pages with the tidied up synopsis and once she’s read it, we’re going to brain storm it.

I think that’s probably a wise idea, she’s proven in the past to be very good at pulling me back on to the right track when I’ve veered off a little, and rather change my course a little now than back track 100,000 words in, when I’d rather be almost done than having to rewrite the whole damn thing. This means I do need to go over the first part thoroughly. At the moment, I’ve pretty much just written my little socks off (actually big socks – I have very big feet) and left the fine tuning for the time being. I know chapters two and three in particular need a bit of a pick-me-up, they’re a bit flat I think. Either way, I think it’ll be well worth my while.

Not least because the beginning really need to be what sets it all in motion, so there’s no room for dead wood in there. Anything that doesn’t move the story forward I’m going to ruthlessly cut out. It’s a painstaking process, but I’m up for the challenge. I just need this fucking fever to go away!

A writer on WMW started a discussion about banned books, and it took me back to the dissertation I wrote in the final year of my first degree. It was largely around censorship, although it wasn’t books I discussed but hardcore pornography. Let’s say it created debate. Possibly partly because my views aren’t perhaps in line with your average woman’s – I like pornography. Anything that involves consenting adults is fine by me. Stuff that would be illegal regardless is wrong, of course, but I see nothing wrong with a bit of good ol’ fashioned banging. In e.g. Scandinavia and the Netherlands, where attitudes towards the naked body, sex and everything around it are more relaxed, there are lower rates of sex crime. I’m not saying that’s because hardcore porn is freely available, but I do believe forbidden fruit becomes more desirable.

But back to books – I think banning or burning them is sacrilege. Take Mein Kampf, for example. Written by arguably the worst monster the world has known, Adolf Hitler. It’s his manic ramblings and outlines his despicable views. Now, I think that’s an important read. I think it’s important that it can be read, discussed and analysed. By hiding, banning or burning it, we achieve nothing at all. I think it’s important to understand evil as well as goodness. I wouldn’t want my young son to read anything age inappropriate, e.g. something violent or sexual in nature – at nearly 10 years of age, he is too young. But beyond that, I think it’s important that he gets to read about things that his young mind can reason around.

I think it would be down right stupid to shush him when he has sincere questions. Like the time he was about four and was having a bath. I was sitting next to the bathtub as usual, helping him shampoo his hair and so on. He looked down at his crotch for a while, then turned to me.

What are these behind my willy?” he asked.

OK, I have to admit that it caught me off guard and that I wasn’t expecting to have a willy conversation just then. But after stifling a giggle, I decided that it was a serious question and if I’d told him off or similar, it wouldn’t have done him any good whatsoever.

Those are your testicles,” I replied, “all boys and men have them.

Monkey thought for a moment.

What are ackles for?

That was indeed a trickier one to handle, because I just didn’t know then how to explain to a four-yearold what the purpose of testicles – or “ackles” – are, or indeed if it would be right to. In the end I decided that the birds and bees conversation wasn’t appropriate, or at least I couldn’t just then come up with a sensible way of explaining those things to him then, so I left it at a level I deemed OK for him.

They are part of a boy’s body, just like your willy is.”

Luckily he clearly felt that was a satisfactory explanation. It’s a tough one to call though. Most of the time I feel I’ve managed to be honest with him in an appropriate manner, but who knows what’s right and wrong in those instances. I guess as a parent you can only do your best.

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