Thursday 1st February 2007
I was up and out and about fairly early (for me) today at the ludicrous hour of 9.30am. I know! Imagine anyone being awake at that hour. It is against God and nature.
The local nursery was about to open and little kids were waiting outside, some playing, some laughing, some crying, some merely standing and observing the antics of the others.
Most of the kids were dressed in usual kids clothes, but one of the slightly older ones was bedecked in an elaborate pirate costume. No-one looked at him oddly or questioned him on his choice of attire, mainly I am guessing because he was about four years old and you can get away with a bold fashion statement like this at that age. If an adult had suddenly made the decision to come to work dressed up as a pirate then I think eyebrows would be raised, but children can get away with all kinds of eccentric behavious and people think it's cute. Evenso the total lack of comment or even sideways glances from the other children and parents made me think that this was possibly a regular occurrence - "Oh yes, that's Ian Harris. He dresses as a pirate. He does it everyday. We have come to accept it as normal."
It did make me wonder why one child would be in fancy dress whilst everyone else was not.
Had he got the wrong day for the nursery fancy dress day? Or had he got the right day, but everyone else had thought such a notion was a bit childish and pathetic and refused to take part? Or maybe they had all decided to come as small children in the casual dress of the early 21st century.
There was a chance, I suppose, that he came from a family of pirates and this is how his mum and dad chose to dress him. It's like his traditional costume and it would be insulting to his culture to draw attention to it. Having said that, he appeared to be with his dad who was in regular dad clothes, but I guess it's possible that the boy's mum was a pirate, who had married out of the pirate community, but who insisted that her son was going to be brought up the pirate way. Perhaps the non-pirate dad had attempted to argue against it, but had failed to make his voice heard, or possibly they had compromised and agreed that the boy could dress in pirate clothes as long as he attended a non-pirate nursery school. His little sister was with him and she was in no kind of recognisable costume. So maybe the compromise was to have one pirate child and one non-pirate. I am not making a judgement about which culture is right and shich is wrong and am glad they have arrived at a situation where everyone is happy. Though I worry that the father was looking emasculated by the fact that it was his wife who was the one going out, stealing booty and so on, whilst he was left to raise the children.
And I guess if a pirate and a non-pirate get married that there are some difficult decisions. Just like if a Christian marries a Jew I can imagine there might be a heated discussion about whether any boy child should be circumcised, in the pirate/non-pirate relationship a decision has to be made as to whether any child will have a leg or hand removed and replaced with a wooden peg or hook. At least the non-pirate father had won out on this point for the moment. I don't want to criticise any culture, but to me the needless amputation of the limbs of small children is a barbaric and outmoded practice. But maybe the family are just waiting til the boy is older, so he can make his own decision.
I might have got all this wrong of course. It might be the father who is a pirate, but he doesn't like to go around in the costume on his day off. Or maybe he is trying to integrate into our culture and doesn't like to go around in the traditional pirate garb. I imagine a grown man dressed up as a pirate can get some unpleasant remarks in the street from the more ignorant sections of society. Just because a few pirates have committed atrocities it does not mean that all of them are thieves and murderers.
It's a stigma his son might have to face in the future, but for the moment he remains free from those barbs. But maybe the silence of the other parents was a judgemental one. They weren't saying anything, but inside they were thinking "He's a pirate, a dirty, stinking, thieving pirate." They pretended not to judge, but the slightly fixed smiles and empty look in their eyes gave them away.
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