This week we begin a new series in which guest bloggers, representing a range of voices less commonly heard in the mainstream media, give their opinions on the issues of the day. Today Maya, aged two, considers a “no deal” Brexit.
As a toddler, I understand the impulse to, as many British people have put it, just leave the EU without arrangements in place that might serve to ensure the country’s survival. However, I’d like to offer an analogy which will explain why I think it may not be the best available option. Leaving, it turns out, is often a mite more complex than one may at first assume.
Across the road from our flat in London there’s a park. An amazing park. With a bendy slide, literal swings and actual roundabouts, parents speaking what sounds like quite a variety of grown-up languages, fellow toddlers babbling away incoherently as we are wont to do, the odd individual adult gulping down a delicious-looking beverage apparently called K Cider, and what seems to be an endless abundance of flowers and grass and pigeons and trees and mud and bins and leaves and twigs and stones to put in those bins. There are also DOGS! Doggies!! Woof-woofs!!! And a dinosaur! (I am not making this up. There is a dinosaur!) Sometimes I look out of the window and the sight of the outside world triggers thoughts of the park’s bountiful and tantalising treasures. Seized by the impulse to be OUTSIDE, I rush to the door, but unfortunately, I’m too tiny to reach the door handle*. This turns out to be just the first of very many complications.
Leaving the house to go to the park is no, as it were, walk in the park. One issue is that I am, how can I put this, linguistically challenged. I have the verbal sophistication of, well, a two-year-old. Further complicating matters is that (shock! horror!) one of my parents (I think it’s the female one) comes from another language background, so I’m often struggling when it comes to expressing my wants and needs. For example, if I decide on a bit of a whim that I don’t actually want to wear THAT hat, not the one with the dinosaur on it that sometimes makes my head feel a bit hot, but another one that I vaguely remember that might on proper reflection belong to another child at nursery, or maybe one that I definitely possess but which, following my own peculiar proclivities, I have chosen to put in the washing machine or the oven, I can’t put my wishes into words and sentences. Or I can, but sometimes my thoughts and feelings come out all convoluted and lacking in coherence**. Babbling, as I mentioned earlier. Added to this is the fact that I’m not yet totally expert at regulating my emotional state, which leads to impatience and frustration on my part and, as a consequence, on that of my parents. In such a state I’m prone to repeating at increasing pitch and volume the word ‘pak! PAAAAAAAAAAAK!!!!’ to little avail. For there are always parental precautions that have to be taken before we leave. This being the “winter” period***, it’s not just a matter of needing to wear a coat, hat, appropriate footwear (i.e. not that of my parents), and a scarf (I HATE scarfs); there are also mittens to be located, suitable parental garments to be selected and donned (with, I have to say, a measure of assistance from yrs truly), plus often a debate as to whether not I get to bring my scooter, because my passion for putting leaves and twigs and stones in the bin means I haven’t always got a hand free to carry it with, which means that someone else (but who??) needs to do so on my behalf.
So something that might seem straightforward turns out not just to be complex but actually complicated. It’s never just a case of opening the door and merrily toddling my way to the lift. The whole process takes time, patience and energy and demands careful preparation and supervision. It is often intensely frustrating and sometimes, for example if one of the parental people happens to notice that it’s actually raining outside, it may not actually result in success.
Now, I’m aware this might be seen as a poor analogy. Getting a child ready for a trip to the park is not nearly as involved a procedure as preparing a country to leave an economic and political union after several decades. But that’s kinda my point. In evaluating the need to make careful preparations, it’s essential to give proper consideration to the consequences of not doing so, in all their potential horror. Allowing a very young child to charge out of the house straight into driving winter rains and traffic coming from all directions, with no coat or shoes, no means of getting back home, lost and helpless in a world suddenly become infinitely more terrifying and lonely, would be something only a true psychopath would do. Especially if they knew there to be child snatchers in the vicinity.
Here, then, we might be able to divine a connection with the dilemma currently faced by the UK. After all, the grown-up world is immensely complex. It operates in ways that would not only befuddle your average nursery-age infant, but would also place incalculable demands on huge teams of experts working to tight schedules over a period of very many years. Just as I struggle to make sense of the complex procedures involved in nipping out to the local playground for 20 minutes or so, the average beflagged twitternaut is underequipped to understand the delicate ins and outs of the EU withdrawal process, and may not have thought through the impact that leaving the EU in any form will have on the future provision of things like well-equipped and safe parks for children to play in, basic regulations to make sure external doors are child-safe, and essential foodstuffs like bananas, tomatoes and cans of K Cider for kids to enjoy in those parks when they get a little bit older.
As I say, I can certainly relate to the impulse to kick and scream and (let’s be frank) poo oneself in the messiest of ways in order to realise one’s immediate life goals. But I’m also acutely aware that my own vision of events is limited to a considerable extent by my puerile desire for immediate gratification without regard for the wider consequences and my infantile apprehension of the scale and complexity of any given set of circumstances. Put simply, I get tantrums. But even as a two-year-old child, I can see pretty clearly that leaving the EU without a deal would not be in the interest of me, my generation or indeed anyone but those whose mentality and worldview are considerably more selfish and less well-informed than your average toddler’s.
Right, that’s the word count met, I’m off to watch me some Teletubbies.
*I am now able to reach the alarm button in the lift, though. Yay!
**I suspect I may have inherited this characteristic from my male parent.
***By the way, those who claim that the climate is getting warmer might like to consider that just a few short months ago we were on something called a beach and it was warm. Now most days we don’t even walk to nursery. You do the math.