School Disco

Flump has been invited to a school disco at the local boys’ school. Yes, that’s right, a disco WITH BOYS (insert screaming face emoji). I’m still trying to digest this disturbing turn of events and can honestly say I am mortified. She has just turned nine, attends a single sex school and most of her parties involve arts and crafts (knitting, pottery and the like), eating pizza or going to the cinema. Long may that continue, I say, as none of us in this household are ready for the school disco phase of life. I didn’t anticipate it starting until later on, at least not until senior school, but it seems I am out of date. Discos are all rage. Apparently.

What's wrong with a cupcake party?
What’s wrong with a cupcake party?

The controversial disco in question is for children aged between 8 -13. Apart from the fact that there will be teenage boys there (shudder), the event is being held in the evening, making it feel even more like a proper disco. At least if it was a “daytimer” I could pretend to myself that it was just like any other party, but the “disco” label is causing me anxiety.

I’m not sure I want to introduce this social ritual and all its complexities to my daughter so early on in life. I have no doubt that it will be perfectly innocent, with most boys skidding across the room and doing arm farts on one side of the hall, whilst the girls bust some moves excitedly amongst themselves on the other side. I’m sure it will be fun, but the thought of my daughter being in a scenario which is typically meant for teenagers, awkwardly navigating the social dynamics between the sexes, is making me tense.

Check me out with my Tina Turner hairstyle :)
Check me out with my Tina Turner hairstyle.

I remember going to my one and only school disco at the age of 11. I’m not quite sure how my overprotective, traditional Asian parents allowed me to go, but what I do recall is wearing my very best  black and white tutu dress, having a Tina Turner hairstyle and awkwardly dancing with a boy called Richard Atwood. It was embarrassing and  my first ever “slow dance” (not really as we stood about a metre apart, but we thought it was at the time). I remember feeling very conscious of how I looked and danced. I felt very grown up.

And I think that’s my issue. I don’t want my daughter, at the tender age of 9, to feel that she needs to imitate adult behaviour. Nor do I want her to be overly self-conscious about the way that she looks, or have a mindset based on appealing to the opposite sex. We already live in an over sexualised culture, where children are exposed to images and ideas that place great pressure on them to conform.  I know the time will come when my daughter will inevitably be interested in boys and attending discos, but for now, I’d rather preserve her childhood and let her enjoy the freedom of not giving a damn. So it’s a NO from me. The princess shall not be going to the ball or school disco……..yet.

Unrequited Sibling Love

Ludoo has started following his sister around like an overexcited, bouncing puppy. He hangs on to her every word, begs her to play with him and copies everything she does…much to her irritation. Luddo is five and Flump is nine. She clearly has better things to do than to hang out with her needy baby brother. He, on the other hand, can think of nothing more fantastic. We have a classic case of unrequited sibling love in our household.

Flump with her unwanted sidekick

Take scenario one – It’s Saturday morning and Ludoo starts shouting at the top of his voice, “My sister, where are you? I love you! Where are you?” My heart melts, silence ensues, followed by the sound of Flump slamming her bedroom door. Poor Ludoo.

Let us consider scenario two – A conversation in the car takes place as follows: Ludoo says, “I love you my big sister, I love you.” Flump ignores him. Ludoo repeats, “I really love you.” Flump remains silent and unmoved. I ask Flump, “Isn’t that nice? Did you hear your brother?” and Flump replies, “Yes, I heard him.”  I then ask her optimistically, “Is there anything you want to say back to him?” Flump reluctantly slurs, “Thanks.” Ludoo remains undeterred and continues to exclaim, “I just love you, I really do.” End of conversation.

Of course I can’t help but feel sorry for my poor little boy, but strangely enough he doesn’t seem discouraged by the repeated rejection. Occasionally Flump will give him a shred of attention, particularly if it entails giving instruction, which Ludoo will eagerly comply with.

The sibling dynamic is an interesting one. It constantly evolves and has many dimensions. I don’t for one second think Flump will continuously reject her brother’s affections. I’m sure, at some point in her life, she will start to appreciate him. And I’m also sure, Ludoo will, one day, lose interest in his sister. Either way, the sibling relationship is never static.

The Khan siblings many moons ago (which one am I?)
The Khan siblings many moons ago (which one am I?)

In fact, sibling relationships are normally the longest-lasting family ties that we have. They are with us for longer than anyone else throughout our lives and will see us through marriage, divorce, aging and death/bereavement. A positive and strong sibling relationship will help cushion us against the blows of life, and that’s why it’s so important for me, as a parent, to nurture that in my own children.

Of course sibling relationships aren’t always easy in adult life. The close history that siblings share can also create tension, and often differences will arise over family related matters. Or sometimes siblings will just drift apart because we don’t invest in these relationships in the same way that we do other relationships. We tend to take siblings for granted.

Ultimately I have no control over how Flump and Ludoo will interact later on in life. All that I can do is set the foundations for their relationship now by reiterating the importance of family and respect. I try to set up activities which they can enjoy together and which foster teamwork. I try to set an example by remaining close to my own siblings and maintaining regular contact. I hope, with time, Flump will become more receptive to her brother’s affections and realise just how lucky she is to have such an adoring younger sibling. He may annoy the heck out of her now, but in years to come, he could well be her anchor should life ever become stormy.