Monday, 24 August 2009

The Dancin' Kid

Here's a story about a new kiddy craze, and for the life of me I can't follow the logic of the objections in the story - just the sentiment. Maybe someone can help me out.

Well it's about this new fad, where in Oxford Street, people can bring along their kids and have them hit the dance floor. Kids can dance around and groove to flashing disco lights and wear feather boas and drink organic apple juice at the 'ultimate dance party' where they will be heavily supervised by babysitters, while their mothers can go upstairs and relax with some champagne.

It sounds like a cool business concept except some people, like the head of the Australian Childhood Foundation Dr Joe Tucci, said that kids were growing up too fast and it seemed to be phrased as an objection in the article:

"As a community we are pushing children into an adult world at a faster and faster rate," he said.
"We need to realise that childhood development is a phase in itself and it shouldn't be shaped by adults and what they see as important."

Now let's assume it was in response to the Baby Loves dancing place, and I'm assuming it because of the context of the article, which also said the event was expected to be divisive.

Now, I'm just wondering what 'growing up too fast' means (leaving out any comments about I thought everyone grew up at the same rate). Basically first of all the doctor says that we shouldn't shape childhood development by what adults see as important.

On the other hand it seems to me he sees childhood development as important, and not pushing children into an adult world too fast as important (inferred by his first sentence) which kinda contradicts his first statement logically if taken perfectly literally as "adults should impose no values about childhood development whatsoever".

The other thing is, what counts as an adult world anyhow, is it adult simply because adults think of it as one, and that's because adults see flashing strobe lights and think of that as "ooooh, that's what I look at and think of as adult-ish!" After all, I can't think what makes dance lights inherently adult-ish, it's what we project upon them. And again, this is another thing about adults imposing values on their kids' development.

It starts off as a weird argument:

1. Children should have their childhood, free from what adults think is important.
2. However, since adults think something like running around nude or bopping to rock music or wearing a feather boa looks like it is adult-like-play (a symbol that is important to adults but truly, probably doesn't usually mean jack to a toddler)
3. Then we should remove it from our child's development and in this case, remember what we think is important. Like what our symbolism means to us or what our neighbours think or whether we think our child is going to grow up to be dysfunctional because later they'll be an adult and it will become important to them THEN we assume because it's important to us NOW.

I'm not saying I think kiddies should necessarily indulge in 'adult' pursuits; and indeed some pursuits could be classed as inherently adult, that is, children are legally prohibited from doing them or their bodies cannot cope with them or are not able to perform certain functions. Others are possibly more projections of society - say wearing makeup. Nothing prevents a toddler boy from putting lipstick on, physically, it's just that our expectation is that it's mainly for people of a certain age and gender.

I'm just trying to work out how these arguments run. Possibly it could have been done better. Maybe people should come right out and say "I am sick of seeing kids dressed in little boob tubes and g-strings, it gives me the heebie jeebies! Get them back in the dungarees and jumpsuits where they belong!"

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