This weekend we have had a diverse range of topics up for discussion which has made me question how much information is enough for a 6 or 4 year old to have.
It started on Saturday with the Eurovision Song Contest which, let’s face it, always has its controversies. This year we allowed the children to stay up to watch the first half hour. This was enough for J (who currently wants to be a rock star) to be hooked and he would then only settle in bed with the promise of being able to watch ALL the acts the following day. Sunday duly arrived and after a windy walk at the White Horse of Westbury, the iPlayer was fired up and J sat there for 2 1/2 hours watching all the acts. J is a child that has never been particularly fussed about TV so this was pretty unusual. However, I can totally understand why he was hooked – the stage display was fantastic, the music catchy, the costumes at times fantastical and the whole show was presented with general bonhomie and excitement. Add to this mix the Austrian entry, Conchita Wurst, and his curiosity was sparked.
Conchita Wurst, a drag act, a man, with a beard, dressed as a very glamorous woman. Not your every day occurrence in our sheltered part of Somerset, and to be fair J was fairly accepting of this; the man was acting, pretending to be someone else. J nodded and carried on watching. Phew, I thought I’d escaped having to make any further explanation or comment. But silly me, J lifted his head from the screen and said that one word that causes my brain to whirr: ‘why?’. That was when I felt a slight panic in the pit on my stomach. I haven’t got an issue with what people want to do, we live in a free society and have liberties that could only have been dreamed of 50 years ago. The very presence of Conchita Wurst on this global stage, being called ‘she’ or ‘her’ by the commentators, is a fairly remarkable thing and shows just how far society has travelled. But how do you explain ‘why’ to a 4 year old who has no idea about sex let alone sexual preferences.
We are taught, and encouraged, from a young age to question why, to find out what more there is below the surface, what else can be read in a situation. As a parent the judgement of how much information is adequate always needs to be exercised. We want to be open minded, non-prejudiced, give our children the facts so that they can make up their own minds, allow them to decide what they think about a situation. Sometimes this is easy. Sometimes I am left floundering for answers this was the case with the talented Conchita Wurst. I couldn’t think of a suitable explanation for my four year old son, instead I mumbled some cliche about everyone being different and wanting to express themselves in different ways. I still don’t know how I could have explained it differently, I have no idea what J thought of my explanation, I think by that point the French were on singing about a moustache…