I am currently questioning the benefits of civilisation.
Having torn out far too much hair to be useful or attractive over the ‘behaviour’ of my almost-2-year-old son (knifemarks on mother-in-law’s kitchen drawers, biro carving into rental property table, throwing dictionaries at computer screen etc. etc.) I am tempted to conclude that we would be infinitely better off living in caves where it didn’t matter if you had crayon drawings of antelope hunting parties on the walls. In fact, they would be come to be regarded as things of immense cultural value millennia hence.
Why do we find it disgusting to become human handkerchiefs when our children have snotty noses and tissues are not close to hand? What Paleolithic priss first decided that one ought not to have bogeys encrusted on their sleeves? What have bogeys done to earn such a terrible reputation?
Whoever it was that initiated our decline into tidiness obsessives, yelling NO with draconian severity every time our child emptied out a pasta jar/wallet/Monopoly set onto the floor for the fifth time in a row, deserves to be dragged out of the conveniently obscure mists of time and thrashed soundly. Or – better – smeared in icecream, facepaint, boot polish and squashed caterpillar until they beg for mercy.
After an excruciating phase of scolding, raging and banishing to the bedroom every time my son so much as ripped a page of Postman Pat, I have at last come to my senses: no longer shall I be Disciplining Mum. Henceforth, and in the spirit of Anthropological Enquiry, I shall be Cavemum! She who permits – nay, celebrates as wholesome, brain-nourishing fun – all grot and disorder within the spacious confines of our home and garden, barring only acts which would lead to certain death or maiming.
When my son asks me for more porridge I shall merely scrape another spoonful out of his hair. If visitors remark (whether with voice or eyebrows) on the chaos of my stew-strewn household I shall comment that we are returning to the natural way of parenting, and oughtn’t you lot be doing the same, you uptight establishment monkeys?
Incredible: already I feel the tension in my shoulders releasing, the stress-band around my head loosening, and the cold dribble of wet mud sinking into my T-shirt as my son paints a primitivist metanarrative upon my back. Margaret Mead can eat her PhD.