Flamingo Politics

Flamingo Politics

No, I did not expect my first four posts of 2023 to start with the word flamingo. I’m as surprised as anyone.

Milo’s class chose their representative to the school council this week. Interested students needed to prepare a one minute speech supporting their candidacy, and deliver it to the class just before recess. To my surprise and delight Milo enthusiastically said he would like to have a go and so hand-wrote himself a short speech which he drafted and redrafted until he was happy with the tone and content. Given this was his first ever speech we practised it five or six times so he could get the timing of his jokes just right, and so he could make sure he could read his own hand-writing at the critical moment. He also wrote “SLOW DOWN” in big letters at the top to remind himself to take his time. The whole process was about as adorable as it gets.

Milo’s pitch had two prongs.

The first was to begin a campaign to change the awful school bell/ music. This needs some explanation. At the boys’ new school there is no bell. Instead there is a rather strange musical mash-up (which must impinge upon multiple copyrights) which they pump through the tinny, mono speakers for about 10 minutes before the school day begins. Most of it is indecipherable but through the haze one can recognise Frozen, Pachelbel’s Canon in D, possibly bits of Tim Minchin’s musical Matilda and maybe (at least subliminally) a hint of Crazy Frog. It is weird to say the least, and somewhat eerie. It feels like the music that might be played inside a bomb shelter, through the air-raid speakers, at the end of the world.

Prong number 2 was an undertaking, via his inside connection, to bring Kevin the Flamingo back in term 2.

These two big campaign promises, I think, demonstrate a better understanding of the electorate’s wants and needs than either major political party in Australia. And the fact that Milo has already secured agreement on the second promise shows a political nous beyond his years.

So I dropped the boys off at school, wished Milo good luck and went for a coffee to settle my nerves. Whilst sipping my coffee I was greeted by the school crossing guy who requested a photograph of Kevin last week. He sat for a few minutes and we chatted. As it turns out he is our local member of Parliament (#becausedarwin). He asked a few more questions about Kevin and I told him about Milo’s speech. He was impressed and I could tell he was considering how Kevin (or Milo) might be able to help him in future campaigns.

At pickup it was clear right away that Milo had not been voted in by his peers. He said the speech had gone well, that he had enjoyed it, but that it hadn’t worked out. He seemed disappointed but not crushed. I felt terrible for him and said all sorts of things at once; I’m so proud of you for even trying in your second week, It’s hard because many of them might not know your name yet, Don’t worry there’ll be so many more opportunities in future, Did I mention I am proud of you? He eventually gave me the ‘shoosh dad’ face and said he was okay. He then said perhaps we need to stay in Darwin a few more years so he can have another go.

All of this got me thinking about how easy it is to dispense advice to our children, and how not so easy it is to live by that advice ourselves. I do it all the time.

Well, I actually wrote a picture book quite some time ago, based on this blog, which tells the story of a dad who spends six months at home with his first son. He is apprehensive at first but he figures out a few tricks and ends up having the time of his life. My very talented friend and parenting co-conspirator Alex has been illustrating it, but for some reason I have really been dragging my heels about doing anything with it, for years. Fear of failure is, I am sure, a big part of it.

But I think if my 8 year old can stand up in front of 20 mostly-strangers in his second week and promise them new school music and a plastic inflatable flamingo named Kevin then I, as a fully grown adult human, can muster the courage to send a manuscript to a few publishers.

Stand by.


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