Saturday, 14 January 2012

Glass jars

A childless friend shared a theory recently. Apparently, he was reading a book in which the author proposed that children were like glass jars: no matter how careful you are with them, and no matter how gently you treat them, they will become damaged. Even a smudge from a fingerprint is damage, thus there is no way to raise children without damaging them in some way.

That seems to be a rafter bleak viewpoint.

If having children means having glass jars, then let's take the analogy a little further. The creation of glass requires sand and heat (at least one element of which is required to create children), and from these two base ingredients, a product is made. Rather than having jars to damage, as parents we create jars, and it is our responsibility to create glass that is filled with light, that adds pressure to the world, and is tough enough to survive damage. So even if a fingerprint is left, by the parents or the world, it does not detract from the delight of the creation.

So yes, parents may inevitably "damage" their children in some way, accidentally, inadvertently, and with all good intentions... But the children should be better, more resilient people for it.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The Dunny queue

I was at a public event yesterday. The downside of attending a public event with small children is that they want to examine the toilets a lot. And I mean a lot. This particular event was designed as a family friendly event, and one of the concessions made to the family-friendly status if the event was the toilets. Rather than the standard big blocks on hire and dropped in the middle of the parklands, the City Council forked out and hired a row of individual cubicles.

So this was fine. The first time we went to the toilets, there was no one waiting, so the kids picked a toilet each and went on in. The second time, there was a short line, so we explained about waiting our turn and then taking whichever toilet became vacant, rather than choosing one. The third time, the queue was a bit longer. The fourth time, the single line for the 7 cubicles was getting quite long.

As we attended the toilets on the way out, something really interesting had happened. There were 6 separate lines in front of the 7 cubicles.

I can see you thinking "so?" HA! Human brings do not behave like that. Have you ever seen individual queues for anything at an event, let alone the toilets? The bladder motivated folk waiting for their turn have broken their programming, left the safety of the herd and breached the British tradition of forming an orderly queue, in favour of 6 queues!

It was dreadfully inefficient. Joining a queue required not only assessing queue length, but guessing how many of each family group actually needed to use the facilities, whether they were going to take turns or share one cubicle vs doing into adjacent cubicles as they became free, guessing at a contribution of liquids, solids or both, and figuring out how long the whole process would take them...

Quite a challenge.

I just wish I had seen what caused an entire group of people to abandon the conventional line up in favour of a less effective solution. Fascinating.