Let Your Children Melt Into You

The case of the seven year old child, Yamato Tanooka, left in a forest by his parents, was widely covered by the international media. The child was hospitalised after spending six nights alone, sheltering in a hut and drinking water from a tap outside.

Yamato was abandoned by his parents as punishment for throwing stones in the car. His father was already unhappy with the boy for getting in to trouble at school. “I tried to show him that I can be scary when I’m seriously angry” he said.

Shocking stuff but not that surprising when you pause to think of the punitive measures meted out to young children every day in our schools and homes. The parenting style used by Yamato’s parents represented an extreme case of what has become normal in western societies.

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Parenting ‘experts’

Phoney celebrity parenting ‘experts’ like Kathryn Mewes (‘Three Day Nanny’) and Jo Frost (‘Supernanny’) have helped popularise the idea that children need to be punished in order for their behaviour to be corrected.

What this really amounts to is punishment of children until they conform to what adults want. This can produce short-term results, with a child expelled from the classroom and a lesson resuming, or a child sent to their bedroom so that an adult can concentrate on what they are doing.

But any immediate result is offset by detrimental long-term consequences. Popular methods, including time outs, the naughty step and withdrawal of treats give the message that the child is not acceptable as they are. Continue reading

Terror Impact: Preferential Coverage and Little Ears

Beirut Iraq Paris Syria

Last Friday evening following the repulsive terror attacks, we were careful to limit the news in our household, mindful of the fears that might awaken in our 6-year-old.

From Beirut through Paris, and in so many other regions, people were going about their daily lives when horror erupted. Accompanying death were traumatic, chilling sights and sounds imprinted on survivors and transmitted to onlookers near and far.

We began to weigh-in on what to tell a young child: whether to share or shelter her from the news that was, after all, not on our shores. The question of the location raised its head and merits some attention.

The continued pervasive coverage of France’s tragedy is neither surprising nor an insult to other countries or populations that have equally suffered. This is not a competition. In the UK the coverage of 7/7 was intense and on-going for months. Last year the October shooting in Ottawa, Canada saw international coverage but nowhere was this coverage more concentrated and extensive than in Canada.

Paris is an international city; one of the most visited and well-known even to those that have only toured it via films and books. This fact is precisely why coverage of the tragedy here in Canada is more intense than the coverage of similar attacks. Paris is a relatable, familiar location where many of us have participated in the exact activities, in the exact locations where these events unfolded. Familiarity breeds curiosity. The 2013 Westgate Mall siege provoked blanket media coverage. There have been attacks before and since in Kenya however that assault occurred in an everyday familiar location– a shopping mall – riveting global interest. Paris belongs not only to the French but is a global outpost which many call “home” whether they’ve taken up residence or not.  The population of Paris is not simply French but vibrant, massively multi-cultural; where Eid and Diwali are as well-known as Hanukkah or Christmas.

Comfort must overrule the cynicism in the perception of preferential coverage. If anything, the coverage of Paris shines a light on bias and can, if allowed, frame an understanding of life in war zones and build empathy towards refugees fleeing these exact horrors.

So, recognizing that media will be intense and pervasive, does one shelter or share with a child? We all make our own choices as parents but for me open discussion should rule. Parents, families, friends, aunts and uncles are best placed to open this sensitive dialogue even in a selective, imprecise manner. Children, even the very young, are acutely perceptive whether to a news report playing in their home, a magazine, newspaper or iPad story left open. A media-blackout at home cannot control what is overheard on the streets, schoolyards and playgrounds. Far worse than having this delicate, uncomfortable conversation is a child being burdened with almost incomprehensible information from another child who may have been exposed to the horrible details without an opportunity for follow-up and exchange. So we sit with our children and tell them that some people were hurt in Paris and that this has made us and the world incredibly sad.  We light a candle and take them to a memorial if they need comfort.  We start a dialogue enabling them to come back to us should they overhear disturbing news, have questions or fears. Together, regardless of age, we open that interchange, held in unconditional love: we fumble, we improvise, we speak; we simply do our best to ensure the communication is there for solidarity, empathy and reassurance.

 

By Jennifer Cavanagh

Could have, should have, didn’t. UPDATE

It’s almost a year since this touching article spewed out of me. I don’t mean to offend when I say it almost takes another artist to understand what it means to have to exorcise that thing that’s running around inside your head. It’s like an emotional release that can almost claim to be the main reason you resumed sleeping deeply again.

Still there were lingering thoughts regarding why the sad event happened. Even among the community that suffered the losses, there were questions, hunches, blame and rumours. The painful  story was expressed already and as the flowers have dried and the caskets have been filled and buried it makes no sense for me to personally revisit the event in any detail, so here’s how The Guardian puts our questions to rest.

Photograph: Reuters
Press Association Tuesday 20 October 2015 12.51 BST

Shelley Christopher denies two counts of murder and one of attempted murder by reason of insanity.

A woman killed her partner and their four-year-old daughter to prevent the world being taken over by vampires, a court has heard.

Shelley Christopher, 36, was mentally ill when she stabbed 42-year-old Richard Brown 29 times and her daughter Sophia six times before inserting wooden objects into their bodies.

Christopher also attacked another child and put a pencil in her body, but despite her injuries, the girl survived, prosecutor Crispin Aylett QC told jurors. She cannot be identified.

Christopher, of Notting Hill in west London, went to a mental health unit in north Kensington in February, two days before the killings, and told staff that someone was out to get her. She refused pleas to stay at the unit and went home.

She is on trial at the Old Bailey on two counts of murder and one of attempted murder, which she denies by reason of insanity.

Opening the trial, Aylett told jurors: “I’m afraid that this is a distressing case which you will find both terrible and tragic. Ms Christopher was later to tell a psychiatrist that, on the day of the killings, she had received a signal instructing her to kill her family in order to prevent the world from being taken over by vampires.

“The signal had come from a lightbulb in the ceiling. She had done – or tried to do – what she was told. After she had attacked each of them with a knife, the lightbulb had told her to put something wooden into each of their chests in order to stop them from becoming vampires.

“That Ms Christopher must have been mentally unwell at this time is borne out by the findings of the doctors who examined the victims. From Richard’s chest cavity, the pathologist recovered part of a child’s paint brush. The pathologist who examined Sophia’s body retrieved part of a pencil.”
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A psychiatrist concluded that Christopher, who is now in a secure hospital, had been suffering from a psychotic illness, most likely paranoid schizophrenia, at the time.

Aylett told jurors that when a defendant enters a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, it was for them, not a judge or psychiatrist, to decide the case on the evidence.

Police found the bodies of Brown and Sophia when they went to the family home on 27 February, days after the killings.

They discovered Brown in the bath and Sophia in bed with a towel over her face, the court heard. Her chest had been covered with coloured plasters and a plastic flower was placed in her right hand.

Social services alerted officers after Christopher attended St Mary’s hospital with the injured child the day before. When doctors operated, they removed a 6.5cm-long broken pencil from the child’s chest.

After her arrest, Christopher told a psychiatrist the colours red, orange and green had become significant to her, with red meaning that she or someone in her family was going to be killed.

She said she had left the mental health unit at St Charles hospital before her assessment was complete because she thought there were vampires there.

On 19 February, she said she had received an orange signal instructing her to kill in order to prevent the world being taken over by vampires. First, she attacked the surviving child, by strangling and then stabbing her with a plastic flower and a small knife.

When Brown arrived with Sophia and asked what was going on, Christopher said: “You’re one of them. You’re a vampire.” She then stabbed him repeatedly in the chest.

She told the psychiatrist that Brown’s eyes had changed colour and he had tried to bite her with his fangs. According to her account, Sophia cried out “no mummy!” and when Christopher asked her if she was “one of them”, the girl replied “yes, I am mummy,” so she stabbed her too.

Aylett told jurors that if they agreed with the assessment, Christopher would receive a hospital order and return to the secure unit where she would remain “for some considerable time to come”.

The case continues.

Article from The Guardian 20th October 2015

No Trust in Westway Trust? # 1

Part one, “This is hypocrisy, this is ironic

5th of July Westway23's demonstration underneath the Westway. Credit: Zute Lightfoot
Westway23’s demonstration underneath the Westway, 5th July. Credit: Zute Lightfoot

Portobello Road, its market and a long stretch of land crossing Ladbroke Grove and Acklam Road has become the subject of much debate as a result of plans for changes to the area published by the Westway Trust. The Westway Trust became responsible for a mile / 23 acres of land under the Westway when the dual carriageway was opened in 1970. The Trust’s remit is to ensure the land is used for the benefit of the local community as compensation for the concrete eye sore that dominates and darkens the areas underneath it.

Of the area under scrutiny, the Westway Trust says: “The markets only operate for three days a week and, outside of those days, areas like the canopy space and Acklam Village do little to contribute to the local area.  Acklam Village is hoarded-off and is not accessible to the community from Monday to Friday”.

This is the economic thrust of the Trust’s argument for change, but they are insistent that any changes will not overturn the unique character of the area. Their plans are called ‘Destination Westway’ and include a major proposal for the ‘Portobello village’ – on Portobello Road, where it meets Cambridge Gardens.

But, there is significant opposition to what the Westway Trust has so far proposed. The founder of a 38 Degrees petition against the plans, Chris Sullivan, says that the “last esoteric, bohemian part of West London” is under threat. With creeping gentrification in the area, the Westway Trust’s plans may be a step too far, and community with a very clear sense of self is reacting.

The organisation Westway23 has called for a new consultation process, complaining that the “plans have been developed without proper consultation with the local community and threaten to add to the already negative effects of gentrification on the local area”.

As a result of the community’s reaction, the Westway Trust’s plans are now on hold and an apology appears on their website for the fact that the images of people in their designs didn’t represent the community (they were all white.) They are also at pains to stress that the designs were not intended to be final.

But, despite their attempts at assuaging the community, other recent developments in the area mean that the Westway Trust aren’t taken at their word. The Westway riding stables have effectively been given their marching orders by the Trust who refused to pay for the required improvements. And Maxilla Children’s Centre / Nursery has been closed, its services picked up elsewhere in North Kensington. Westway Trust have been blamed by some for the Maxilla closure, but this seems to have been more the decision of the council who were unwilling to provide assurances about funding despite earlier informal agreements.

A recent release of funds for a community grants programme has been viewed by a number of people I spoke with locally as Westway Trust’s attempt to improve their public image. The same people were critical of how difficult it is becoming to work with what they see as an increasingly corporate organisation.

Amid the upheaval, the Westway Trust has been advertising for a new chair and has engaged two recruitment firms to help them, and so are currently making decisions without a leader. “How much money have the squandered recruiting a chair?” wondered Niles Hailstones, acting chair of Westway23, when I met with him on Portobello Road. He told me how Westway23 was born:

“I challenged the illustration (the initial artist’s impression drawn up by architects Stiff + Trevillion) – they hadn’t included any black people so I offered to facilitate a genuine community meeting. They didn’t get back to me within two weeks, which was the time scale I’d set, so when I contacted Westway Trust again, I was introducing them to Westway23”.

Sylvia Parnell, of the Portobello Café Society, one of many people who stopped to greet Niles as we talked, told me “the Westway Trust wouldn’t let us see the minutes of their meeting about the proposed changes so Niles took the lead, as he was already engaged with the Trust on issues of concern”.

On the Westway Trust, Hailstones is critical of their actions and their approach to the local community: “They always feel that they know what’s best for us because they’re in a vacuum. On the one hand they can be seen as having a colonial perception – that’s unavoidable if you look at the history of slave ownership which has deep roots in Kensington and Chelsea. And on the other hand, the public are accustomed to a system of servitude, where they play a secondary role in the conversation”.

A substantive take on gentrification is at the heart of Westway23’s approach, along with an instinctive urge to protect the local area. Niles continued: “What we’re seeing here is a super imposition of a culture and perception from outside imposed by people from outside the area…like this idea of a ‘village.’ The Westway Trust held their community festival right next to the area they aren’t representing. This is hypocrisy, this is ironic”.

“The biggest component of this has been irony. They are supposed to represent the community, but these changes were all decided without our knowledge”.

Part two coming soon @ Urban Dandy London

Tom Charles

Saturdad…

The week passes like a snail

Slowly often without purpose

Then Saturday comes,

I’m a Dad for a day,

Knock at the door

Those rushing footsteps

Shouts of it’s Daddy! Daddy!

 

It melts my pain

Once again the crust drops away

Now an eagle soaring, Flying

Seeing clearly,

the drudge of the week falls away

seeing your faces, hugging you both,

Loving you eternally…

Six days battered within, inside my

head, Knocked out in the heart

But I still stand, for I forever

see your faces, your smiles, holding you both

close inside…

 

Whatever the world throws at me

its schemes, its trickery, it can never

take you away,

Monday comes again, time spent

with you a beautiful memory,

re-Fuelling me to Fight once more

a once a week Daddy,

but not a weak man,

at times I’ll be on the Floor

as the rat with no pity Gnaws

at my heart…

Yet Saturday will come around again once more

 

 Saturdad

©Mark Bolton

Whose child are you anyway?

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Ethan Minnock

Take a look in this child’s face. Look deeper. What Mother would want to give him up? Not Rebecca Minnock anyway.

After the court ruled custody in favour of Ethan Minnock’s father, Rebecca Minnock did what any sane Mother with a supernal relationship with her child would do; Run.

What? Well rather than question my odd angle on this, the question should really be– what would it take to find the courage, or to some the stupidity, to take ‘your’ own child into ‘your’ own hands? That defining  moment could only have been a moment of connection, as it is hard for me to believe that somebody who didn’t feel capable of raising their child would risk everything by running away for just a short chance to be with them. Maybe the consequences weren’t weighed up, even more to the credit of a Mother’s Hyperarousal.

One thing is for sure, several decades ago this would have been a most natural response. Has society really become so caught up in modern legislation, in the guise of law, that they can no longer appreciate what it is to be a human attached to their seed? For me, the balancing outlook comes from simply observing nature. I have seen animals, less bothered with politics and court cases, murder or even throw themselves in harms way when much more preponderant animals come within a few dozen metres of their progeny. So what’s the big deal? It’s natural.

I would like to think every Woman would at least consider this just so I know that they haven’t totally lost their power to those men with hammers in witches outfits. You could maybe see Rebecca Minnock like a Rosa Parks or a Harriet Tubman. There’s something powerful about when women become restive, it feels veracious and begins just where a male’s manhood ends.

Maybe the whole event asks a question that nobody wants to ask. I say this because at the core of it there is something innate within the soul that knows its own property, whether it’s the actual body or the body it created, even though most are afraid to act on it.

But then again as always there is another side. Less than six months ago a woman on my own street murdered her husband and child in a vicious knife attack. With such a large number of people with failing mental health within domestic environments, largely spurred through undiagnosed post-natal depression that can last more than just a few years, what can you do to protect the child and who’s business is it?

Rosa Parks
Rosa Parks

In 1666, just after the great fire of London, The Ceste Que Vie Act was signed and went into action immediately. The gist of it states that, by Maritime law standards, any individual born after the said date would be considered lost at sea unless within a seven year period after berth they would come forth and state otherwise. Strange as it seems it appears to me that what is being stated here is that all men born are considered by the courts ‘dead’ unless they prove that they are not.

Well what rights can a dead man have? I’m sure all things that would be considered property would be held in trust by the state, No? If I sound crazy by translating my own thoughts on the act, which by the way, didn’t take too much thought on my part, then see what you make of it. After all it is not a belief but something enacted into your legislation.

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All that aside, there are many, many, opinions on whether or not the law is the law of the land or the law of the sea based on the Union Jack being a flag of the high seas and ra ta ta….However, whatever your position, the fact remains that decisions that only Mothers can make in sound mental health regarding their sentient child, are being made in a cold, clinical, lifeless, male milieu.

This seems quite absent of the very female spark that initiated the offspring and all offspring for that matter. One shouldn’t have to take the form of a woman to know her role and connection to decisions of nurture unless, in a Shakespearean prophetic manner, one is born of a glass tube. In this case the microchimeric cell attachment they share may well be severed but anything short of this proves that the creator and the creation remain together for eternity according to recent neuroscience discoveries.

A 'Lancashire lassie' being escorted through the palace yard, Westminster Palace, London, 20th March 1907. A young woman is reluctantly escorted by two policeman who are holding her by the arms. The woman is still protesting as she is led away. The last line of the verse at the bottom says 'For Women's Rights anything we will dare; Palace Yard, take me there!' (Photo by Museum of London/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Rebecca Minnock said ‘No’, whether it was a sane ‘No’ or a psychotic ‘No’ is the question here; but the larger question to all Mothers should be where does the state get the right and is it really a right or an antiquated legislation created, not for the health of the community but the capture of booty? This would then make it no less than a raping of the soul.

But I will leave the burden of deciding with you dear Mothers and whatever you decide I will only agree because I am just a mere man, the creation of a woman.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pMNzFow40I

For Emily Davidson & Mum.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kVPTXmesMpo

Angel Lewis

Could have, should have, didn’t.

Sometimes it’s the things we don’t say that can cause the most damage.

I rarely write on this type of issue but I feel compelled.

It was only a week ago when I thought to myself ‘I wonder what this woman’s story is’? She seemed a little perturbed at times but would often afford me a smile and a wave if a little far, that’s if I didn’t get there first. This had become a ritual that we both kept up every morning around the never ending race called ‘The school run’. She and I never failed to say ‘Good Morning’ to each other. Sometimes I wouldn’t know whether to wait when I saw her stride suspended by her toddler walking at snail pace while putting my key in my front door. She seemed pretty patient waiting with the baby in the cumbersome buggy while she stalled outside my doorstep for the little angel to catch up.

A slightly chubby woman with soft black silky hair always pulled back in a ponytail. There was a seriousness to her that caused me to wonder what had painted that expression into her soft, smooth, brown, face.  I did remember seeing her a few times with a tall slim Jamaican guy who, as friendly as I am, I did try to avoid. My reasoning told me, children’s Daddy but they were pretty banausic and self preserving.

For me survival is a learned behaviour, after living in Brooklyn for the formative part of your adult life you get to know how to ignore people who move a little faster than natural. This slim sporty looking character was that. He knew almost everybody in the neighbourhood within just a few months. I would spot him talking with… let’s just say locals with way too much time on their hands. I waived many opportunities to become an acquaintance through those unwanted six degrees but some underlaying instinct kept me in the same street but on a different, different road. He was always coming when I was going and I was partly the orchestrator of this.

After a few times seeing them together I figured that they were certainly an item.  At this point I believe it would have been safe for me to have said maybe more than ‘good morning,’ speaking from those thoughts a few months back because I feel it may not have warranted any negativity. She could have possibly answered ‘I’m okay just cant be around that man anymore’. To that I would have replied, ‘If it’s that bad stay somewhere else, a sister, your mother anywhere is better than arguing’. Or she could have said ‘Just so tired after watching the new season of CSI’. In which case my words could have been ‘You should try to watch some more inspirational stuff like some Deepak Chopra or something, that stuff stays in your head and when you get in an unfamiliar situation, you never know what’ll pop out”.  I could have said a number of things to which she may or may not have listened but we will never know because none of this ever happened. Why? Lots of reasons: I was in  a rush, It was cold outside, I was a bit scared, she was not that familiar.

Portobello-Road-sign-561125

On Friday evening…well no, on Saturday morning I was given a sheet of paper by a young man after he knocked on my door.  The familiarity with his dark outfit let me know it was of a typical probing nature. He was looking for information on whether anybody had been approached about any of the goings ons within the flat at the end of my road. Immediately I thought of them.

By Friday afternoon our good mornings would be exchanged no more for the mother of two, allegedly murdered her husband and the toddler that evening and left a cold mystery for the neighbours to try and unfold, backtracking trying to figure out why. Alcohol, drugs, self defence? No, nothing makes sense. Obviously she had snapped. This cold act created a historical tragedy equal to any other Hollywood drama, that will be told to the neighbours children’s children. One day it will be told to the surviving child by her foster parents. This event will be the reason why the place will be gutted and refurbished and even years later when its departed from everybody’s consciousness, there will be someone questioning whether they truly heard the remnants of the slain souls that left so unexpectedly.Daily Thompson house

I have seen tragedy and death before but for some reason I felt attached to this situation and, for the past few days have used a practice called Zero Limits for removing negative energy and bringing clean and clear energy. Still I ask, rather than a moments silence for the all around loss of a family, this woman who’s life is well and truly over, to look deep within your neighbour’s eyes when you greet them and let it not be all formality and routine. Dare to see through them, see if they are really okay, really. Say something uplifting to them because if one word a wordy person like myself could have said at that opportune moment could have changed this, it would have been worth switching the ego off for.

Please look after your minds and definitely talk with each other.