Posts Tagged ‘children’

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I’m waiting for my Son to die. At least in Heaven there’s food.

 

Compassion fatigue?

Boredom?

Distracted by the Winter Olympics closing ceremony? Massacres in American schools? Trump’s latest tweet? Football?

What will it take to make you sit up and take notice?

Perhaps this. Warning: distressing.

http://www.bbc.com/news/video_and_audio/must_see/43163173/syria-war-children-struggle-to-survive-in-eastern-ghouta

#assad #syria #russia #civilians #children

If you want to share this story, which is something you could to do immediately to raise awareness of this utter disgrace, please cut and paste the link at the end of this sentence, and post it to your Facebook page or wherever: wp.me/p1LY0z-3ya

NEWS UPDATE

There appears to be some success in the outpouring of anger over Russia and Assad’s behaviour. Please KEEP sharing this story as often and as creatively as you can to ensure that pressure is kept up.?

See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43200956

 

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Pamela Smedley with her mother Betty in 1990

Image copyrightP amela Smedley Pamela (right) reunited with her mother in 1990.

Up until the late 1960s the UK sent children living in care homes to new lives in Australia and other countries. It was a brutal experience for many.

In the winter of 1949, 13-year-old Pamela Smedley boarded a ship to Australia with 27 other girls. She had been told by the nuns from the Catholic home she lived in that she was going on a day-trip. In reality, she was being shipped out to an orphanage in Adelaide and wouldn’t see England again for more than three decades.

“We thought it would be like going to Scarborough for the day because we were so innocent and naive,” says Pamela, who is now in her 70s and still lives in Adelaide.

“The nuns said that in Australia you could pick the oranges off the trees, and I was very excited because I loved oranges.”

Pamela’s unmarried Catholic mother had been pressured to give her up as a baby and so she was sent to live under the care of nuns at Nazareth House in Middlesbrough, Teesside.

Pamela Smedley at Goodwood Orphanage, 1952

Image copyright Pamela Smedley. Pamela Smedley at Goodwood Orphanage in 1952.

The place was cruel and joyless, according to Pamela, and she remembers that when the Reverend Mother asked who wanted to go to Australia, every girl in the home put their hand up.

Once the SS Ormonde set sail for its six-week voyage, the girls soon realised this would be no day-trip. Instead they were allowed to believe there would be families waiting to adopt them.

“We arrived wearing our winter coats and hats and I remember being hit by this stinking 100-degree heat,” recalls Pamela. “I hated it and when we found out we had travelled 10,000 miles just to be put in another orphanage we all just cried and cried.” Anyone who has ever been in Adelaide – a desert city – during summer will have the greatest sympathy with the new arrivals.

Children en route for emigration to Australia

Image copyright Molong Historical Society. Children en route for emigration to Australia, the subject of a new exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Pamela would spend the next two years at the Sisters of Mercy Goodwood Orphanage, an imposing redbrick Catholic institution, home to about 100 children.

She was one of as many as 100,000 British children to be sent overseas to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries as child migrants between 1869 and 1970.

Run by a partnership of charities, churches and governments, the schemes were sold as an opportunity for a better life for children from impoverished backgrounds and broken homes. In reality, an isolated and brutal childhood awaited many of them.

Pamela was one of an estimated 7,000 children to go to Australia, some as young as four. They were often given the false status of “orphans” to simplify proceedings – and most never saw their homes, or their families again.

Boy on ship

Image copyright Molong Historical Society An estimated 7,000 children were sent to Australia, like this boy

“Child migrants were actively solicited in Australia as a way of building up the white Anglo-Saxon population and to give the growing economy there a boost,” explains Gordon Lynch, Michael Ramsey Professor of Modern Theology at the University of Kent.

This was not something which happened under the radar – the vast majority of children were sent to Australia with government funding.

“It is sometimes easy to assume childcare continuously improves and becomes more enlightened, but by the time Pamela went out [to Australia] the child migration schemes were really running against the grain of accepted childcare practice in post-war Britain,” explains Lynch, who is also a contributing curator to a new exhibition around the subject at the V&A Museum of Childhood in London.

Upon arrival at Goodwood, all the children’s personal mementos – photographs, letters, toys – were taken from them and they were left with just a Bible. Everyone was terrified of the Reverend Mother, even the other nuns, says Pamela. She recalls the big strap the nun had around her waist which her rosaries would hang from.

“It is what she’d use to beat us – at night she would walk up and down the dormitories and if you so much as twitched in your bed you’d get the strap.”

Child migrants picking peas at the Fairbridge Farm School in the 1950s

Image copyright Molong Historical Society. Picking peas at the Fairbridge Farm School in the 1950s.

When she arrived, Pamela remembers defiantly shouting out “God Bless England!” during morning prayers, rather than saluting Australia, for which she received “the thrashing of her life” from the Reverend Mother. Eventually, the nun retired and was replaced with someone much kinder and more progressive, according to Pamela.

Daily life at Goodwood consisted of early prayers, chores and then school, followed by more chores, prayers and an early bedtime of 6pm.

A few hours a day would be spent making the strings butchers use to hang their meat. “It was very coarse string and it made our fingers bleed,” says Pamela. “If you did anything wrong the penalty was an extra 100 strings and the nun in charge would hit us with her walking stick.”

Forced child labour helped schemes like the one at Goodwood to be financially viable, according to Lynch.

Boys working on building site at Bindoon Boys' Town

Image copyright Molong Historical Society The migrant children were often used as cheap labour.

“It would often be presented as an opportunity for children to learn useful skills or a trade but it was much more about providing some economic contribution,” he explains.

Pamela also remembers working in the laundry room and would spend school holidays living with a family and being worked hard throughout her stay. “The two daughters in the family were very good to me but their mother just saw me as free labour,” she explains.

Pamela says that every now and then a priest would come to check up on how the children were getting on. “The nuns would stand right beside us when we were asked questions and toys would appear in time for his inspections, but as soon as he left they were taken away,” she says.

One of the biggest failings of these schemes was that staff were often poorly trained and poorly resourced and very few follow-up checks were made, explains Lynch. Eventually, the Ross Report came out in 1956, as the result of a visit to Australia by a British team of inspectors, commissioned by the Home Office.

“It made grim reading and said that children who’d already had disruptive backgrounds and been subjected to traumatic experience in the UK were really the last people who should be sent overseas,” says Lynch. Reflecting the sensitivity of the subect, confidential appendices, containing the worst of the findings, were not publicly released until 1983.

But despite the report, children continued to be shipped overseas. According to Lynch, the reality became “an uneasy truth” – the Home Office weren’t prepared to publicly go against the Commonwealth Relations Office (who were in charge of the schemes) so they tried to discourage local authorities from continuing to send children overseas instead.

A diary of the voyage to Australia written by one little girl, Maureen Mullins

Image copyright Molong Historical Society. Pages from the diary of 12-year-old Maureen Mullins, who emigrated to Australia on SS Otranto in 1952.

“Furthering the British Empire was still very much a priority and there was also a fear of going up against not only the Australian government, but the Catholic Church,” he explains.

The Australian government soon countered the Ross Report with its own glowing review of all the homes under criticism.

Sexual abuse was a harsh reality for many of the children under the care of these schemes, including Pamela, who was assaulted while on the voyage over to Australia and while working at an isolated shearing station, aged 15.

“We were taught never to let a man touch you and that was all I knew- so I believed I was a sinner and would go to hell for it,” she says. When it happened for the first time on the boat, the nuns in Pamela’s charge insisted she was just dreaming. “I was terrified and I still go to sleep with my hands guarding between my legs,” she says.

At the shearing station Pamela had just one weekend off every six weeks and spent her entire first pay on a ceramic miniature English house. “I bought it to remind me of England,” she says.

Desperate to break free of the scheme’s clutches, she got married three days after her 18th birthday. In 1989 she was connected with the Child Migrants Trust, who helped her to be reunited with her mother Betty. For 40 years Betty had believed Pamela was adopted by a loving family in England.

They kept in touch until Betty died, and in 2010 Pamela was one of 60 former child migrants to be flown over to England to hear an official apology from the then prime minister, Gordon Brown.

“I still have nightmares about what happened but hearing the apology gave me a little bit of peace,” says Pamela. “It showed that finally somebody cared about what happened to us.”

Pamela Smedley meeting Gordon Brown after the British government apologised for the migrant programme, 2010

Image copyright Pamela Smedley. Pamela Smedley meeting Gordon Brown after the British government’s official apology in 2010.

(Story from the BBC)

Along with the “Stolen Generation” of aboriginal kids removed from their families and their attempted “whitiefication”, the forced expatriation of British children remains one of the most shameful episodes in British history.

That so many of those children have gone on to be stalwarts of their community is entirely besides the point – so might they have become had they been left with their birth parents or cared for empathetically in their home country. The stagering cruelty of the Churches and the Governments of the time beggars belief.

The same question occurs again and again – “What on earth did they think they were doing?”

And what similar lunacies are still being pursued around the world?

childs-white-oblong-casket

We despair at the gullibility, the laziness, and the downright stupidity of “internet generation parents” who continue to think their children are more at risk from being vaccinated than they are from catching horrible – and 100% avoidable – childhood diseases.

As a result, anti-vaccine parents throughout the world, but recently noteworthily in America and Australia, are taking decisions that are killing their children – not to mention infecting other persons via their un-protected children.

Los Angeles resident Derek Bartholomaus, who runs an excellent fact-based website called “The anti-vaccine body count” is keeping count of preventable illnesses (144,886), preventable deaths (6,312), and number of autism diagnoses scientifically linked to vaccinations (0) since June 3, 2007. He admits it is hard to convince the anti-vaccination crowd, despite research that vaccination leads to autism being totally and comprehensively debunked.

“It’s really hard because it gets into the conspiracy theorist mentality,” he said. “If it were just a rational and logical discussion, there’s no debate. Vaccines are safe and effective.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Jasjit Singh, associate director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, says she has seen her share of children die from a preventable infectious diseases.

“There is nothing more heartbreaking,” she said.

Key facts

  • Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
  • In 2013, there were 145,700 measles deaths globally – about 400 deaths every day or 16 deaths every hour. By no means all of these were in developing countries.
  • Measles vaccination resulted in a 75% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2013 worldwide.
  • In 2013, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 73% in 2000.
  • During 2000-2013, measles vaccination prevented an estimated 15.6 million deaths making measles vaccine one of the best buys in public health.

Parents need to know this.

Chickenpox can leave your child scarred for life.

Measles can kill them.

Whooping cough can kill them.

Most children are infected with whooping cough by their own unvaccinated parents.

Stories that kids can be hurt by vaccines are LIES. A proportion of all children will develop autism whether they are vaccinated or not. It’s sad, but there it is. We just want everyone to consider these statistics from the World Health Organisation.

Immunization averts an estimated 2 to 3 million deaths every year from diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), and measles. Global vaccination coverage—the proportion of the world’s children who receive recommended vaccines—has remained steady for the past few years.

During 2013, about 84% (112 million) of infants worldwide received 3 doses of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP3) vaccine, protecting them against infectious diseases that can cause serious illness and disability or be fatal. By 2013, 129 countries had reached at least 90% coverage of DTP3 vaccine.

IF THESE VACCINES WERE HARMFUL AND CAUSING AUTISM, WHY IS THE WORLD NOT DROWNING IN AUTISTIC CHILDREN?

Yet as anyone with Google and three minutes to spare can read here, autism is NOT increasing.

If you know anyone NOT vaccinating their children (especially against Measles and Whooping Cough) we urge you to ask them to do so. Be prepared to back up your opinion with facts. Because it’s this simple: children’s lives are at stake.

At the Wellthisiswhatithink desk, we are old enough to have lost relatives to preventable disease within our lifetime. Forgive us, therefore, being so blunt. We’re over it. Yes, it is conceivable that there is a tiny – TINY – risk in vaccination simply because anything that is done to the human body can cause a reaction. But simply being alive is dangerous. Breathing is dangerous. The point is that we KNOW the risk from preventable diseases and it exceeds the risk from vaccination by such a large factor that we should ignore any miniscule risk and protect our children.

Did I hold my breath for an hour or two when my daughter was given her various vaccinations? Yes I did. Would I make the same decision again? Yes, 100 times out of 100.

jesus-wept

One of the more difficult things for anyone with a brain to work out is “Why?”

Why do the most terrible things happen?

Why do a bunch of suicidal terrorists slaughter dozens of wonderful, bright, inquisitive, compassionate children and their teachers in pursuit of their goals, for example?

Why does a crazed gunman shoot people in a Sydney cafe?

Why do suicidal fanatics and car bombs regular reap their bloody toll of death in countries the world over, and in the Middle East especially?

Why does a father kill his two tiny daughters to “punish” his ex wife?

Why? Why? Why? What possible purpose do all these events hold?

Is it all part of some cosmic plan? Or is it an entirely random, meaningless moment in time? Disgusting in its mundanity.

Does it represent some titanic battle between supernatural forces of good and evil? Or is it merely a dull and deadening further example of the oft-demonstrated human capacity to divorce ourselves from the consequences of our actions?

Or does all this have no inherent meaning at all? Is life merely a lonely and ultimately meaningless road, ending inevitably in death, in which the only passingly relevant question is “How did you do?” “Were you lucky?” “Were you noble?” “Were you unlucky?” “Were you base?”

Or perhaps, as some have argued, “Did you have fun?”

What do you tell the parents of a child recently dead from cancer? The wife whose husband and father of her children is killed in a work accident? The three children of the woman killed in the Sydney siege, all under ten? What do we tell them?

We are confused. We do not know if the earth is spinning off its spiritual axis, or whether there even is any axis at all.

We are torn between the siren calls of both God and Man – we can simultaneously believe the immediate and compelling emotional evidence of the supernatural in our lives – especially by contemplating coincidences so unlikely as to be highly unlikely to be random – at the same time as we recognise the rationality of the agnostic or the atheist. On balance, we believe in God, but the balance is fragile and tilts both ways. Doubt is our constant companion.

suffering

If there is a God, how could he allow us to make such a total, violently messed up miasma of a world?

How could he allow us to run riot, seemingly incapable of managing our existence, seemingly unable to place compassion for our fellow beings – and the planet as a whole – at the head of our “To Do” list?

Why did he curse us with so-called free will – if free will is merely an excuse for wanton brutality and ineffectual governance of our planet? Yes, freedom to pollute with run off from our factories is balanced by the freedom to clean up our waterways, but why give us the choice? Did we ever ask for such a terrible series of choices, that we seem so incapable of handling?

Where is God, whatever we call him, while IS behead 22 Syrian soldiers on video – video taken over some hours, from multiple camera angles? Or when they slaughter thousands of civilians and shovel them into pits? Where is God when a US drone blasts into sanguinary non-existence an innocent Afghan wedding?

Where is God when a random act of weather or an accident on a road destroys people notable for their innocence and good naturedness?

In short, where is God – where is meaning – when the innocently good die young?

No, we do not pretend to know. There is no perfectly satisfying answer to this question which has occupied – bedevilled – humankind since we learned to think.

We are drawn, though, to one piece of irrefutable logic, from psychiatrist Viktor Frankel, who so movingly, intensely and validly sought meaning in his experience of the death camps of the Nazis.

Frankel – a man who could so easily have despaired – summed up the wisdom of thousands of years of sages in all cultures when he said:

“If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be meaning in suffering.”

 

Suffering is the one constant in life. We all have experiences that threaten to crush us – our dreams get shattered, our bodies fail us, we are submerged in our own incapacities and weaknesses – and most terribly, we all lose people we love to illness, accident, to seemingly blind fate.

And most terrifying of all, death is our constant companion. As we wake up every morning we never know if we will see another.

So what really matters, it seems to us, whether one has a comprehensively worked out religious perspective or none, is how we deal with suffering.

Do we allow it to destroy us, or do we resolutely continue to strive to live lives that answer our personal and communal driving moral imperatives, whether we source those imperatives from a religious book or from within our own rational view of how the world should be constructed?

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in Cat’s Cradle:

 “In the beginning, God created the earth, and he looked upon it in his cosmic loneliness.

And God said, “Let Us make living creatures out of mud, so the mud can see what We have done.”

And God created every living creature that now moveth, and one was man.

Mud as man alone could speak. God leaned close to mud as man sat, looked around, and spoke.

“What is the purpose of all this?” he asked politely.

“Everything must have a purpose?” asked God.

“Certainly,” said man.

“Then I leave it to you to think of one for all this,” said God.

And He went away.”

God or no God, it is up to us to work out the purpose. And how to survive it.

compassion

The world can sometimes seem overwhelmingly awful and dark. So this Christmas – this Hanukkah – this Milad un nabi … this … December? January? … the one thing of which we are convinced is that we should all spend some time reconnecting with those we love, taking joy in little things, making those course corrections that we need in our lives, and above all showing compassion for those touched by suffering.

Because this we do know. As we are all bound by it, so we all can learn to endure it, endure it even when it tears like a maddened beast at the very vitals inside each and every one of us, and we can endure it together, yoked together by the burdens of our common suffering.

alone

Suffering is the one thing none of us escape. That is the one lesson of history that is observable, undeniable, and in its own way, comforting. The lesson – the example – of our shared humanity, and our frailty.

The realisation that we all suffer. And – whether through the grace of God or the courage of the human mind operating alone – the almost simultaneously certain realisation that we can, and do, survive.

Indeed, that surviving itself is the meaning we all search for. Until, one by one, we lay down the imperishable, insistent, ever-present burden of thought, and go to sleep ourselves.

Little girl isolated

Originally posted in 2012, now updated

As we hear the news that a 16-year-old Australian boy who had been bullied so much that he tried to kill himself has finally died from his injuries, and of an Ohio school student who was marginalised and bullied and who tragically took a gun to his classmates, we are again reminded of the awful dangers of bullying.

The events in Ohio are too recent and too unclear to comment upon in any detail. But we know the story of Dakoda-Lee Stainer who two years ago tried to end his own life: bullies at his Kempsey school had tormented him mercilessly for months, and on this particular day he had been accosted by a gang of teens.

He survived the suicide attempt, however was clinically dead for 30 minutes.

Dakoda-Lee suffered irreversible damage to his windpipe and was left terminally ill with severe brain damage. He was unable to speak or walk and had to eat through a tube in his stomach.

The high school student was raised in Toowoomba but moved to northern NSW in 2007.

His mother, Tess Nelson told the Toowoomba Chronicle in November: “We live every day as we can and we help him as much as we can. If his windpipe collapses it might be his last breath.”

On Valentine’s Day this year, Dakoda-Lee passed away in Caboolture Hospital. We pass our heartfelt admiration and sympathy to his carers, family and friends.

Ever since his tragic accident, his mother, has been campaigning to give a voice to her son who had lost his own.

The Facebook group ‘See justice done for Dakoda-Lee Stainer’ says “Please join my group and we can speak for him. justice must be done, criminal charges laid and compensation given. And maybe together we can help make a change.”

According to News Limited and Yahoo, Dakoda-Lee’s stepfather Bill Kelly, is suing the NSW Department of Education and Communities for damages. The family claims it breached its duty of care.

What can you do?

Re-blog this page, re-post it to Facebook, email around this article to your friends. Especially, but not exclusively, if you’re an Aussie, because on Friday 21 March, schools throughout Australia will join together to celebrate the annual National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence.

For more information, please visit Bullying No Way or their Facebook page.

A lifetime ago, and for many years, at boarding school near London, I was mercilessly bullied.

Brutally. Repeatedly. Continuously.

In what amounted to nothing more nor less than emotional, psychological and physical torture, I was ruthlessly teased, beaten, humiliated, and marginalised.

I was picked on primarily because I was creative – a writer, singer and actor – and unusually intelligent and sensitive in a school environment that largely mistrusted those qualities. And because the pack or the mob always seems to need a victim to unite against, and because once a child at school is accorded victim status it takes an earthquake to turn things around, this lasted from the age of about 11 until about 16.

I came from a middle class home in the south of the country, most of my classmates came from working class homes in the north.

I was obviously from Welsh stock. Not very tall, and slightly overweight. (This later helped me be an effective rugby player, playing hooker in the middle of the pack, which re-aligned my community status a little.)

I missed my home and didn’t hide it.

I also had bad breath which no amount of tooth brushing seemed to cure. (In later life I discovered I have sleep apnea and have probably had it all my life from birth due to a combination of nasal and soft palate deformities – as a result my mouth would dry out at night.) Needless to say, no social or medical intervention was offered.

Teachers can be bullies, too. You know who you are.

Complaining to teachers about the treatment meted out to me was usually met with advice to “toughen up” and “fight back”, and often a sneering assumption that I was somehow responsible for my own bullying. One teacher in particular would deliberately curry favour with my pupil cohort by bullying me himself. He is probably dead now, which is a shame, as I would like to land just one mighty blow on his ugly, smug little face. I hope he rots in the deepest most lonely corner of hell. I’m sorry that those thoughts are ignoble, and beneath me. Walk a mile in my shoes.

At stages in my life, when reacting to stress, I have struggled with both depression and obsessional compulsive disorder.

(I am reasonably well at the moment, thank you, and have been for some time.) I ascribe both, in overwhelming measure, to my school experiences. I still have nightmares: I am now 54.

That I have grown, eventually, into a moderately well-adjusted adult with a working quantity of cheerfulness, stoicism and self-esteem cannot hide the scars I still carry from this experience.

I am, for example, by nature, somewhat “conflict averse”. In a conflict situation at home or at work I will commonly either over-react with anger, frustration and fear, or under-react, with acquiescence and grudging agreement. I have had to learn, step by painful step, to assert my point of view quietly and good-naturedly in these situations, and not to take any opposition personally (as it rarely is personal), and to laugh off minor setbacks. I expect to have mastered this skill by the age of about 80, which will leave me just enough time to get on well with the bossy busy-body nurses in my retirement home, and even my killjoy gerontologist when he tells me that a road-trip grape-grazing in the Yarra Valley would probably be counter-productive at my age.

I eventually managed to bring the bullying under some sort of control by one day losing my cool altogether and belting two tons of shit out of a couple of big kids who were the ringleaders.

I surprised myself. I certainly surprised them.

This didn’t fix the problem entirely, but it ameliorated it. Needless to say, this was an antiquated, barbaric response to a barbaric problem, and it should never have come to that. It was probably fortunate that I was not living in a country with free access to firearms, or the place might have been minus a few students and at least one teacher. Perhaps two, thinking back.

Many school bullies, interviewed later in life, express bitter regret at their behaviour, and talk of how they too felt isolated and frightened, and how they fell into leadership of the pack and a cycle of poor behaviour that they felt unable (or unguided) to leave. Some of them report carrying those behaviours over into adult life, causing themselves and others great sadness.

The victims of bullying frequently take their own lives, or suffer the torments of hell trying to re-establish the self-esteem and sense of safety that should never be stripped away from a child.

So what can you do?

Make the world a better place. 

At the very least, click now and get behind Bullying No Way in your school community: as a start, ask what your school is doing to participate. Consider in what ways the principles involved could be utilised in your family and workplace, too.

If you are overseas and reading this, ask your school or education authorities whether they should be running similar programs.

And above all – above all – if you’re a parent – ask your child if they are ever bullied. Including “online” bullying, now, a horrible new phenomenon. And listen to their answer with fierce attention.

Or find out if they bully anyone else.

And if either is true, do not ignore it, or hope it will go away, or brush it off and dismiss it. Work out what action to take to correct the situation. Get professional help if necessary.

Because sooner or later, bullying is a problem for all of us. And it maims – and even ends – lives.

I think this is a meaningful, timely and heartfelt article that we would all do well to read. I urge you to click the link below, right now:

http://valentinelogar.com/2012/06/20/generations-lost/

Grinding poverty, poor social provision, perpetual disadvantage. These are the unseen people, and they are our children. Unseen, not because we can’t see them, but because we don’t look. We choose not to look. We look away.

This is what America’s election in 2012 should be about, not pettyfogging issues of who gets a tax break, who pays for a woman’s contraception, or all the other nonsense.

This is a FACT. Millions of American children are abused, or are injured or die unnecessarily, or remain essentially uneducated, or have basically zero life opportunities, in the world’s wealthiest nation.

The world’s WEALTHIEST nation. Consider this simple NCCP stat: 21% of children in the U.S. live in families that are considered officially poor.

Oh yes, and the average age for the sexual exploitation and trafficking of a runaway child in America is 13.

Well done, Val, keep it up.

OK, so – back at 10,000 hits (and again at 15,000 hits) we had a bit of a celebration because the blog had reached lots and lots of readers. Which is a Very Good Thing, capital V, capital G, capital T. And so as not to appear too self congratulatory, I said the next little milestone would be at 25,000, assuming it would be a fair way off.

Well, it wasn’t, because we have just belted through 25,000 hits and more when I wasn’t looking, helped by some wonderful advertising f*** ups, and some poetry, and not a little of being rude about the Republican Party.

Anyway, back at 10,000 it was really interesting, because Wikipedia had this really cool article about all things 10,000-ish which I shared with you.

Sadly, I have to tell you, dear Reader, that finding anything to go with a celebration of 25,000 is much harder. Much.

25,000 Dinar

25,000 Iraqi Dinars. Before you get too excited, that's about US$21.45 right now. Don't bother printing it off and trying to pass it.

The best Wikipedia could do was this rather attractive Iraqi money.

A number of websites offered to sell me cars all under 25,000 somethings, mainly Aussie dollars.

And Flat Finder told me they had over 25,000 apartments on offer in Australia.

There’s a battery charger called  CTek XS 25,000. There’s not many people know that.

And Kenya has just fired 25,000 striking health workers.

Oh, and an outbreak of Avian flu in rural Victoria resulted in 25,000 ducks getting the chop. Awww.

And a woman in Dublin received 25,000 Euros for a botched cosmetic surgery thing on her lips. The way the Euro’s going I hope she spends it soon.

But that’s about it for our massive, once in a lifetime celebration of all things 25,000-ish people.

Not terribly inspiring, I’m sorry. I will pick our next number to celebrate more carefully – and, as always, thanks so much to everyone who reads the blog, and comments, and passes it on. You’re why.

Meanwhile, un-noticed by all except close family, 21 years ago Monday just passed my darling daughter popped into this world, and after hanging around a bit, rather quickly in the end, actually.

At one point my wife asked the midwife “What’s happening?” The midwife calmly replied “You’re having a baby.” My wife somewhat tiredly asked “When?” The midwife drily replied, “Er, now.”

And out she came.

So on Monday we had a few drinks, and then a few more, and there’s going to be a big party soon, of course, and, you know, all the things people do when someone has a significant birthday.

Which is much more of a something to celebrate, really, than a battery charger or a strike in Kenya, or even a blog. So I thought I’d mention it.

I’ve been quieter than usual, this week, because I’ve been thinking about what it means to have a 21 year old daughter. Sadly, I keep running up against the most obvious conclusion “Sh*t, man, you got old.” It’s hard to ignore the fact that the body is beginning to creak alarmingly, and the brain doesn’t go quite as quick as it used to. But all in all, I am content with my lot.

Because, you know, kids don’t come with a manual, no matter how many people try to sell us one in the bookstores, and her mother and I just muddled along as best we could, making plenty of mistakes, clinging onto each other for dear life sometimes as the waves of life rocked our little boat backwards and forwards, but we made sure that what we did do for the kid was try to teach her right from wrong – and always to hang onto what’s right – to always believe in her dreams, to be able to talk to us about anything, and to love her to bits.

Good, bad, indifferent, grumpy, cheerful, frightened, brave, loud, quiet, hard-working, feckless, in love, out of love, in sickness and in health, we just loved her to bits. And always will.

In return, she grew, miraculously, before our very eyes, into this infinitely better and more golden and more caring and more insightful human than us.

Which is all, on reflection, that I think you can really hope for when you set out – that you leave behind you a child who is just the best that you can both be, and then some.

And she is. So “well done Caitlin”. You turned out real good. Thank you. And please remember I really want cable TV in the old folks’ home. I don’t care if the place smells of cabbage and wees, but it must have cable TV.

OK? Deal.

Exactly 19 years and three days ago. My God, I look young.