Genetically Modified Children



“……’s like you have a hinge ready for the eye-drops.”

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Chicken Little

After careful consideration I decide that their behaviour has been exceptional and that a treat is in order. I research our options before I collect them from school. What new culinary experience might best fit the bill? Where is noisy enough?


I have another brilliant idea. Now would be the perfect time to try Kentucky Fried Chicken. Two of them eat chicken and I am fairly confident that chips will be available.

I make time to explain the plan. I ensure that I have everyone's attention prior. I plant the word 'fries' in the second statement to pre-empt a meltdown. I emphasis the reward nature of the experience, as a certain amount of doubt is immediately apparent. My daughter is delighted. The boys check her out to see whether or not they should be delighted too. I remind them of our nauseating catch phrase, 'new, different, exciting.' They reluctantly decide that weak positive enthusiasm, is possibly the best option.

We spend copious amounts of time with shoes and toilets because I am distracted by finding the nearest restaurant location with the aid of the computer. I give up and attend to feet and bodily functions because I have the luxury of a GPS system in the car.

My children sit in the car for seven minutes fighting their car seat belts whilst I fight with the logic of the GPS, always a mystery. After my 27th attempt at typing in 'Kentucky Fried Chicken' I am just about ready to cut my fingertips off with a pair of secateurs.
“What is wrong with this stupid thing!” I squeak at no-one in particular.
“I'm sure it's real near. I remember seeing it near somewhere.”
“Near yet ever so far at the same time!” I bleat. “I suppose we could just drive around and hope that we bump into it?”
“No bumping in car!”
“She din mean real bumping.”

I need a plan B and quite possibly a plan C. I long for spouse to return, the man with a compass in his head. “I thought you said we were going to the chicken place?”
“We are! Or rather we would be if I could find it.”
“Type it in again. Let me see.”
“There's no point. I've already tried every possible feasible combination of location, city, keyword, place name and street. It doesn't exist.”
“It does. I saw it say Main Street or something.”
“Main Street in Arizona, about 1679 miles away.”
“How long will it take us to get there?”
“But I'm hungry, I don't think I can wait that long. Try again, let me help.”
“O.k. just to show you, here K-E-N-T-U-C-“
“Wait what?”
“What are you typing?”
“Kentucky Fried Chicken.”
“Try KFC.”
“It'll never pick up on that, it needs everything spelled out for it.”
“Jus try it mom.”
“Ah…..1.6 miles, that's a bit more like it.”

We park on the curb side of the lot to narrow the chance of anyone being mown down before we manage to enter the establishment. As it turns out, we are unable to enter the establishment in any case. My youngest son is prostrate on the concrete by the entrance, quite a feat for the tactile defensive amongst us. I try and drag him away from the doors to avoid pedestrian traffic trampeling. Strangely he is compliant. We wait for words to return, but my daughter is ahead of the hunt, “he ain't gonna go in there!”
“Why not?”
“Veggie tales.”
“There's a poster of Veggietales on the door.” The vomit sounds from my son confirm her accuracy.
“Vegetables are be poison!”
“Chips are made of potatoes, remember that potatoes are a vegetable?”
He sits bolt upright, reviews the poster whilst he sucks his fingers. He bobs to his toes and is in the double doors in a flash.

Inside I suppress a groan. Menu choices abound. Too much darned choice! There are enough different combinations to satisfy every family. The boys swing on the bars to help them assimilate the information. My daughter and I gaze at the board like goons.
“What do you think you would like dear?”
“I'm gonna have a burger an fries.”
“No, which chicken dish are you going to have?”
“I'm not gonna have chicken.”
“But that's why we came here!” I squeak in exasperation. My sons falls off the bars in a heap, an ooof and a “I be have dah burger also.”
“What about the chicken!”

I give up and place our order. I read the options again and peer into the back to see if I can spot a knife and fork, or something else that might work like a knife or a fork. After another 10 days of liquid diet following dental carnage, I am doubtful of my ability to eat anything quite as solid as chicken. I dither whether or not to ask. I decide to pretend that I am an American and do what Americans do, I just need to watch them to see what how they manage this culinary feat. All three of my children play 'rock, paper, scissors' loudly, in the centre of the room, elevated on tall stools for maximum broadcasting.

“Hey Mom, they called yur name.”
“Did they? Are you sure?”
“Yeah, they called Maddison right?” I remember that I'm on the wrong continent and stomp over to the counter to collect numerous Styrofoam packages without a recycle label.

The children concur that the plastic free toy is inferior to the MacDonald's equivalent. They agree that the burgers are not up to par with competitors. Chips are granted a paultry 7 out of ten, but consumption of calories continues in between the light banter. We are meltdown free and collectively as noisy as the other 26 people in the restaurant. Balance personified. I examine my food and wonder how best to tackle it? Biting is banned for 6 months. No tools are forthcoming. All around me people chew on drumsticks, gnaw on chicken wings, gulp down lumps of chicken breast and general show off.
“Why aren't you eatin Mom? Don't like the chicken after all?”
“I love the chicken, or rather I hope to love the chicken. I'm just not quite sure how to eat it.”
“Just pull a bit off, a bit sized piece.”
“You can do it. If you make it small enough you won't need to chew, just swallow.”
“Go on. Give it a go.”
“But it's all greasy, I'll get my hands all slimy.” The boys look at me, dead in the eye, open mouthed with food falling, “sa finger lickin good.”

I think the sky is falling in!

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Unravelling the Devil’s work


I am neither a soothsayer nor a sales person, but I would hazard a guess about the trajectory of many a child. They commence  dabbling with dinosaurs, trundle into Thomas and his rabble, plunge into Pokemon and then yield to Yugio. After that, I seek input.

Each of these phases results in considerable financial investment by the parent, no matter how reluctant. To be fair I was quite happy with the first two, but seriously troubled by the third. To me, Pokemon were the lowest of the low, nasty, cheap little figurines. Although I knew nothing about them at all, I disliked the cartoons which to my untutored eye had an air of violence and brashness.

With all their obsessions to date, eventually, I have reluctantly capitulated. If you can no longer tempt a child to put a foot through their trouser legs with a smiley Thomas face, you have few options but to put a Pokemon scowl there instead, if you ever how to achieved ‘dressed’ status.

After two years in the Pokemon phase of development, they have infiltrated every nook and cranny of our daily existence. Their purposes as so many and varied, that life would come to a half without their motivational force. Now that I have watched the cartoons, I would acknowledge that they are largely innocuous, no worse and no better than others of their ilk. The predominant theme is ‘good triumphs over bad,’ which overall could be a darned sight worse. But I digress.

Firstly, I should point out that no-one is to blame for dropping little triggers into my children’s life. I’m all for free speech, but sometimes a casual comment can worm it’s way in to someone’s psyche with unforeseen consequences.

I tuck them all in at night. Whilst I chat to his brother, I can hear the occupant in the next bed ‘self talking’: ‘weavil, deevil, evil, meevil,’ interspersed with giggles and mouth breathing gusts. I come to him, last one, the little one, his turn. Nearly seven already but with a speech delay. The ‘delay’ is catching up, the gap narrows. He may sound like a four year old with a mouth full of marbles but that should not deceive us.

“What it is?”
“What is what dear?”
“Dah ‘evil’?”
“Evil? Well it’s the worst of the worst, the baddest of the bad.” He gasps wide eyed and claps his hands over his mouth, a sealant. I wait for further and better particulars.
“But dey are not dah badest of dah bad, day are da good guys!”
“Who are the good guys?”
“Da Pokemons!”
“Er yes, I think you’re right. They are the good guys,” I agree, wondering what the real issue is here?
“But, but, but…….she is telling dah lie?”
“Who is lying?”
“Da teacher!”
“Which teacher?”
“Da teacher who is being at my school.”
“Which teacher?”
“Da one who is saying dat the Pokemons dey are evil.”
Whilst I am tempted to ask again, I doubt if I will gain any further relevant nuggets of information. For them, like many children, most situations are black and white, the grey areas are few and far between. Now we have reached an impasse. Teachers are a given ‘good,’ therefore they do not lie. It’s an area of cognitive dissonance, both facts cannot be true at the same time. He starts to bleat as his brain whirs to try and resolve the dilemma.
“You know how you like Goldfish?”
“Um…er…….yes.” He pauses whilst my brain whirs too.
“You think they’re the greatest, right?”
“Er…..yes.” After each utterance he clamps his hands back over his mouth to stop additional words escaping in or out.
“You know that I don’t like Goldfish right?”
“You don’t like em?” He sounds genuinely.
“Have you ever seen me eat them?”

“Er no..”
“Why do you think that is?”
“Er…..coz I am a bad sharer?” Brilliant!
“Good answer, but no, it’s because I don’t like them, they’re yucky for me.” His eyes are on stalks of disbelief.
“But everybody……!”
“Not everybody. You remember people like different things?”
“And dislike different things.”
“Er…..and fink different things?”
“Spot on! That’s right. It’s o.k. for people to think different things.”
“She are not lie?”
“It’s not a lie if that’s what she thinks is it?”
“Er….no…..da o.k., ……I fink.”
Horray! Now that’s an outcome that I would never have predicted a few years ago, but I did mention that I’m a bit remiss in the fortune telling department. That’s all we really want, just a little tolerance. It can go such a long way.

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