Except one thing.
Although I’ve not got any of my own, I love the kids that belong to my mates to distraction. Given the choice between going into town on Saturday night or messing about on a Wii with my seven year-old nephew, the latter wins hands down every time. Let’s not piss about, here - kids are ace. Alright, so maybe their parents might turn into hypocritical personality vacuums, but that’s another topic for another day.
Anyway, I’m at my mate’s house, and I’m in his six year-old daughter’s bedroom, helping her get dressed while he takes a conference call in his home office. This one, out of all the kids I know, has the ability to wrap me fifteen times around her little finger, for the fact that when I was at my lowest ebb in my entire life, she would always cheer me up. While I’m handing her some new clothes and letting her get on with it, she points out that she wants to show me something, and I have to look away. So I bury my head in a Mr Men book (which is a very hard thing to do, as they’re tiny).
When I look up, she is bollock naked, in the crab position, and singing “PUSH-ING MY NUNNY OUT! PUSH-ING MY NUNNY OUT!”
So what, as a responsible adult, do I do? Do I a) tell her to stop doing that right now, as it’s rude (no, because I don’t want to make her feel guilty about things like that, because it’s not my place to do so), b) laugh and tell her not to be so silly (no, because I don’t want to belittle her), or c) ignore it completely and tell her to get her kit on?
Sadly, I do neither. I choose d) – cram as much of myself into the corner of the room with a face like Hyacinth Bucket whilst watching a fisting video and bellow “STEEEEVE! MAKE HER STOP! NOWWWWWWW!” Afterwards, when I’m in the back garden having a fag, I think to myself; what the fuck was that all about?
Well, stupid question, really – for the past decade or so, we’ve all got into a right Paulsgrovey state about kids and sexuality. Never mind that there are products like this and this knocking about and this problem isn't going away anytime soon; we seem to spend most of our lives these days looking at the paper, watching the news, and inwardly screaming; “Won’t somebody think about the children?” I probably notice it more than most, due to my career path; Every time I rang me Mam up when I was working in Grot mags, she would say “Please promise me you’re not doing any magazines to do with kids”. (and when my sister was having a baby, I told her “I hope it’s a girl – little girls are ace” and she called me a dirty bastard. Can you believe that shit?)
So, after me fag, I calm down and go inside.
“Can you take her to the toilet, mate?”
Oh God no.
So, I’m standing there, in the bathroom, taking more interest in the ceiling tiles than I would if I was sharing a urinal with the Village People.
“Can you wipe my nunny?”
“Come on, now, you’re old enough to do it yourself”
“I want you to do it”
“Don’t be silly, I can’t do that”
“But I won’t tell anyone. It’ll be our secret”
On that word – secret – I immediately go into one. I point out to her, as firmly as possible without yelping hysterically – that there should be no secrets whatsoever between me and her, or her and anyone else, and if she did have any with someone else who wasn’t her Mam and Dad she had to tell me right now, and, and, I’ll nail the bastard to a fucking tree, so help me God.
And tears as big as her fist spring out of her eyes.
Just before she’s about to scream the house down, I cave in. “OK, OK. I’ll do it. Stop roaring. I’m sorry.” And I grab the bog roll and wind it around my hand until it’s roughly the same size as a beach ball. And I dab away from a distance for four feet. It takes me seven goes to flush it all away.
Then, we go back into her bedroom and plays with her dolls house for a bit. Then she says; “This is boring. I’m going to make you my prisoner. Put my pyjama bottoms over your face and burp through them”
“DO IT, PRISONER!”
I start to explain the absolute wrongness of this, and how it may be misconstrued, and what her Dad would say. While I’m doing it, it slowly dawns upon me; if I carry on, I’m going to raise ten new questions in her mind for every one I answer. And it’s not my place to. At all. Shit.
“Are they clean?”
As I curl myself once more around her little finger, lying on the floor while she laughs and yells the lyrics to The Wheels On The Bus into my ear, I ruminate about kids and sexuality. I think about all the mad shit I used to sing when I was her age; about Wrigleys Spearmint Gum, and how you could stick it up your bum (and how, if it didn’t fit, you could always have a shit). I think about the stray dog on our estate whose bollocks hung so low that they skittered across the pavement, and how all the kids used to involuntarily cover their groins, even though they didn’t know why and the dog seemed to be happy enough, and the day when you could hear people on the other street pissing themselves laughing and you didn’t know why, until the dog came up your street and you realised that someone had put a pair of Y-fronts on him. I think about the school trip to the farm when one cow panicked and climbed on the back of another, and Michael Hall shouted “LOOK, SIR! Those cows are BUMMING!”
And it dawns on me that, when you’re that age, everything to do with willies and bums is at least interesting and normal, and at most funny as fuck, even though you don’t know why. And it’s one thing to protect kids when it comes to things like that, but another entirely to try to scare the shit out of them about it.And for the first time in years, I laugh so hard that tears run down my face.