Up Now

Last Word: Dad shot my cat

Andrew E. Hall knows nothing about kids. Word.

I KNOW nothing about kids.

But in the dim recesses of my consciousness I recall actually being one once. I remember that all things appeared larger than they do now – my world in the Australian outback was a wondrously wide and mysterious place. A place to explore in great detail . . . as long as I got home in time for tea.

I remember getting my first bicycle – my pride and joy – which made my explorations wider ranging and led to the seeming permanence of Band-Aids on my knees and elbows. At around the same time my parents gave me my first football (oval, not round) and one of my favourite things – when I wasn’t riding like the wind through the bush – was playing kick-to-kick with my dad on the red earth that surrounded our house, on the outskirts of a town populated by 100 or so people.

At night we, as a family, devoured books.

My writing career began (at age seven or eight) after we had moved to a rather larger town and acquired a kitten that I became attached to. Unfortunately the animal gave me ringworm and my dad took it into the bush and shot it. I wrote my first poem about “Kitty” that my mum still drags out from time to time these decades later.


Life was pretty simple – the things that excited and entertained my sister and I came mainly from our surrounding environment. The boundless energy of childhood was expended by being “out there” with our friends and engaging in “play” (not PlayStation) which is so important in the development of a social conscience and confidence.

We thought we were doing really well if from time to time we were allowed to buy a 20 cent bag of mixed sweets – unlike today where (for the same money) the shop-keeper says, “here’s your sweet, mix it yourself”.

I know nothing about kids today as a generational concept.

But I do have a little friend, Cempaka, who is the daughter of a friend of mine.

She is a complex character who is entirely comfortable with all forms of electronica and who loves books – especially about goblins and fairies. Cempaka delights in performing magic tricks. And she’s pretty handy at karate. She is curious but sometimes I find myself unable to answer her questions about the world around us.

At times its cruelty (especially to children) overwhelms me.

But in Cempaka I see the future and the love she brings to all things inspires me to believe that it just might turn out okay after all.

I know nothing about kids (because I have never had the privilege of being a father) but I do know that we (as adults) have a responsibility to preserve a world that is worth inheriting from a wider “we” who have yet to learn that destroying our environment is a bad idea. That conflict and war is a really bad idea. And that deploying electronic devices as a de facto parenting measure is, at the very least, careless.

What I do know about kids is that we should listen to them when they talk to us.

Sometimes the wisdom that comes from purity is profound.

Editor’s note: Ringworm cream is available at most reputable apotiks in Bali.