‘Do you know where your children are now?’ asks the ad in sombre tones.
This is your signal to get up from in front of the box and check the bedrooms. Pull back all bedcovers to make sure there really are kids underneath and not just a heap of pillows and dirty gym socks. You can no longer afford to be either complacent or trusting. The time has come to put your imagination into overdrive and get with the program.
Let’s face it, you either have the sort of kids who are never home, or the type who hang around the house all day going, ‘I’m bored.’ Problems of the latter ilk can be quickly and efficiently dealt with if you’re any good with gaffer tape. Be grateful if your child is too unattractive or lacking in charm to have friends or places to go. While they are babies, do your utmost to make them as undesirable as possible. Make it your quest to hide them from any concept of personal hygiene. Nobody ever got into trouble alone with their nose in Moth Collectors’ Weekly smelling of sweaty armpits.
The kids you have to worry about are the ones who are never home. There’s always that nagging, uneasy feeling the police are going to turn up at any minute to fill you in on their activities. Even the most reasonable, unassuming parents can end up with renegade offspring. These parents will wonder what they’ve done wrong – especially as Madeleine, Sebastian and Felicity are such model children, having a marvellous time at university and being an absolute credit to everybody. So what is the problem with Rocco? Why does he not care about having a Quality Card at high school, and why did he hock his saxophone? Apart from the fact he was given a crap name, you can probably trace it back to Great-Grandpappy Jake, the scourge of the new colony. The rogue gene had to go somewhere, and it’s pure chance Maddy, Seb and Fliss missed out. Rocco, on the other hand, is having the time of his life. There’s a big, wide world out there and he’s really getting off on it.
Because of this, a group of parents in his general vicinity have started a vigilante group. It’s called ‘Where Are the Neighbourhood Kids – Everyone’s Really Scared’. The members of WANKERS are cooperating with police to make sure all local kiddies are tucked up in bed by 10.30pm. They intend putting a complete stop to incidents of adolescent rape and pillage. Unfortunately, Rocco and his mates are out of their bedroom windows by 10.45pm and in the middle of industrial-strength pillage by 11. There is nothing anyone can do, because there are laws these days against giving your kids a thick ear. Furthermore, there are laws against teachers giving your kids a thick ear too, which leaves you with hordes of thin-eared kids out there on the streets doing exactly as they please.
This is largely due to the existence of community workers who think you should ‘reason’ with your children. Try this: ‘Rocco, sweetheart … how about having a mug of cocoa and spending the evening doing some revision for your maths exam? You’ll enjoy it far more than going out with your friends to nick a few pension cards and get off your face on tequila and Avgas.’ This suggestion will go down a treat with Rocco. He’ll put the kettle on to boil while he’s changing into his pajamas.
Reasoning with your kids is not an option. Not once they are old enough to reason with you. Sure, you are welcome to give the ‘reasoning’ option a burl – if you don’t mind the sensation of having a tin of Milo jammed up your orifice.
In reality, the only option you have is to go along to the Monday night meeting of WANKERS. There, you will be able to bond with like-minded parents who have Roccos of their own. You can share coffee, jam drops and compare Milo-tin scars. You can have a bit of a cry and ask, ‘Where did we go wrong?’ That’s easy. You became a parent.
So – do you know where your children are now?