I think it may be time to chuck out all the Enid Blyton books and veto anything written before 1970.
Last week Ben asked me,
“Why did Enid Blyton think it was alright for the girls to be servants to the boys?”
Well, there’s a discussion to be having with an eight year old boy.
How do I condense the Women’s Movement, feminism, and all the titles including The Second Sex, The Women’s Room, Sexual Politics, Man Made Language and the Female Eunuch into one easily comprehensible answer.
I give it a go.
“Things were very different in those days, and people thought women should do most of the work in the house. But things have changed since then. That’s good isn’t it?”
“No, I’d like it if Hannah did everything I told her to.”
Great. An unreconstructed son who’d like a doormat for a sister. Luckily, he doesn’t have one.
But I do worry that working at home is giving him a skewed view of male/female job demarcation. I’m the one who fetches them from school most days, and it’s generally me who bangs plates containing food onto the kitchen table of an evening.
We’ve already had the “only men do big important jobs like that” conversation.
Well, I say conversation. It was more like one small person trotting out anachronistic tommy-rot while his mother listened in horror with her chin on the floor.
I did my best to stem the tide of wrong-thinking.
“We’ve already had a woman as a prime minister, her name was Margaret Thatcher and she was prime minister years before Tony Blair.”
I can’t believe I’m having to hold up the honorary bloke, Maggie Thatcher, as a fine example of womanhood. But I carry on.
“Men and women can do any job they like,” I explain, “except wet-nursing and sperm donation.”
I watch the unfamiliar words penetrate the brains of my children, and immediately wish I hadn’t put it quite like that.
Hannah’s first up with “What’s wet-nursing Mummy?”
I explain as best I can, and am met with a resounding, “Urrrghhh!” from both of them.
They’re so horrified at the thought of other women breast feeding them that they forget about the little matter of the sperm donation.
Ben could well be mulling over the word donation, which he may not know, and sperm, which he does, ready to throw them at me, in all their “sperm donation” horror, in the checkout queue at Tesco’s.
But even this would be preferable to rearing a child who yearns for nineteen-fifties suburbia.
He seems to be moving on to Arthur Ransome at the moment, with Horrible Histories and Groosham Grange for light relief, so hopefully he’ll forget the time-shifting example of Julian, Dick, George and Ann, not forgetting Timmy the dog.
I’ll just have to worry about Hannah now, if I can first save her from the Rainbow Fairies.