In the sternly sensible days of colonial Britain
child raising was an extension of the stiff upper lip
practical, unbending and as little emotion as possible
a job, not a vocation. Seen and not heard.
Perhaps it wasn’t Spock’s enlightened thinking
his manual of new ideas.
placing children contiguous of love
rather than the continuation of the species.
Maybe pharmacology straitened
the hairpin bends of pregnancy
shifting power from consequences to desire
until the arrival of certainty and financial security.
However it happened, the world turned in the 1970’s
Victorian cold disappeared
disappeared into dual career households
into unshaven armpits
into Montessori pre schools
expression overthrows discipline.
The child spoiled and rod spared.
She was the first of my contemporaries with children
we were good friends
I often called in
two earnest young mothers
poring over compulsory popular psychology
an older neighbour visits – unannounced
a veteran of 1950’s Cold War child raising
she is shocked. “You two stupid tarts
throw away those books and get two wooden spoons
one for making jam and one for the kids’ bums.”
They tell her she is wrong
“ make it three – one might break.”