Oh, To Be a Childminder
Here's a tale of political correctness gone mad. My mother, who has been a childminder (and a good one at that) for almost 2 decades, is forced to endure a visit every 6 months or so from some busybody from the government to make sure she isn't keeping the babies in cages (or something. I don't pay much attention).
On the last visit, she was warned that she didn't have enough black dolls or toys. Apparently, by law, a childminder must have at least one 'ethnic' doll, probably to teach the children valuable lessons in how to get along and hold hands in a big circle.
Now that's all well and good. It's not a bad idea to expose the children to the idea of different cultures as early as possible. Hopefully it will help them assimilate into productive beta citizens to work the production lines and offices of the future (sorry, I just inadvertantly channeled George Orwell there. More on that in my next post). The problem is that the kids don't like to play with the little black doll. It's not that my mother is indoctrinating them into some Aryan hate-group, or that there is something intrinsically racist about a small child... no, the problem is that the doll looks really fucking freaky. I don't know what these dollmakers were smoking when they design these ethnic toys, but the little black ones look like white children who have been cooked on a high heat for an hour. They have all the characteristics of the white dolls, but they're covered in this creepy shade of brown unknown in the natural world.
Anyway, that was 6 months ago. My mother had another visit yesterday (you know she's due when safety equipment starts to turn up around the house - fire blanket in the kitchen, Berlin Wall-style barrier at the foot of the stairs etc). Since I was a tot the house has been completely child-proof - a fortress in which there are few sharp edges or accessible cupboards, but the effort is stepped up a notch prior to an inspection.
So, the inspector came, searched the house with a fine tooth-comb, and declared the house safe for human habitation. Surprise surprise. I was raised here along with 3 siblings, and we did it without the fire blanket and rubber covers over the kitchen-towel hooks, and we have the scars to prove it (seriously, I have a nasty scar from when I scalped myself on a hook at the age of 5).
There were a couple of problems, though. Apparently, my mother needs to sit down with the youngest of the children, a toddler of about 2, and devise an evacuation plan in case of fire. An evacuation plan. With a 2 year old. At that age you're still at the stage at which the rule is 'in case of fire, stand still and wait to be hoisted into the air by parent or guardian'. Your mind isn't designed to go through all the possibilities of a situation like fire - what if the front door is blocked? What if we're stuck upstairs? Which window can we escape through? Stupid.
But that wasn't the most ridiculous thing. That honour goes to the order that my mother must buy more books featuring disabled children - Dr Seuss and Spot the Dog are no longer acceptable reading materials for a child. They must be exposed to the world of amputees and mental illness.
And so, I have devised my plan. I always wanted to be a writer, and I have found my niche. Starting as soon as I finish this post I will be embarking on the Great British Children's Book. It will feature a Mixed-race Samoan/Mexican female lesbian double amputee with Young Onset Parkinsons and a severe case of Tourette's Syndrome. She will be called Pam. Her partners in fun will be Thalidomide Thaddaeus - known as Tad to his friends - and 'Plays with Fireworks' Fiona - known as 'Bangs'. This motley crew of unfortunates will make learning about disabilities fun for all the family.
Now I have to leave. That black doll is staring at me again.