Finding Damo

The story of a man, his job, two cats and the meaning of success.

Archive for the tag “fear”

Parents and Social Media

This post comes out of a conversation I had on Twitter. I made the comment that parents need to have Social media accounts so that they can have a meaningful dialogue with their children. The quote I stole from the presenter I was listening to was “You wouldn’t take your kid swimming if you couldn’t swim.”
I thought it would be just one more tweet in the Twittersphere – ignored and moving on. But it gained a bit of attention, and started a lively discussion.
I’m going to paste the conversation here, because Twitter is a hard place to have a good conversation. Feel free to weigh in. I’m also going to post it, and then edit it when I get to a proper computer, so that I can add in some pictures and links to yesterday’s presentation from the AP at Kilbreda.

Here goes, in some vague order but with no guarantees:
Dan: what! Thats not true surely…I cant swim but take my kids to swimming lessons …
Fiona: But are you the one teaching them to swim? 🙂
Dan: no of course not …. but will get in the water with them… I am an esafety advisor btw for ceop and afp

Emma: No you dont. Dont need to be a swimmer to teach swimming. Dont need a SN account to understand SN
Emma: dont agree you need SN account to protect kids. You need to supervise your kids’ account #havetheirpassword
Fiona: Spying on them? No thanks.
Emma: it’s called parenting.
Emma: How else would you recommend parents see what their kids are doing online?
Dan: hiya, not sure what you mean ..how do they see?
Emma: suggested having passwords was “spying” on kids. Wondered how she suggests knowing what kids are doing
Fiona: just developing an open, honest relationship with them
Emma: That is definitely important, but also not enough. Abuse is not always because they did something wrong. More often because someone else did. Keeping tabs on their account aids watching other people. dealt with so many abused kids whose parents thought they had good open honest relationship

Dan: not all teachets on twitter or social net… thats also an issue
Emma: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: I agree.

Dan: I put a free site together http://t.co/yUtnJLB96Y and its got a parenting section
Dan: Why do they need to be on twitter. What if their kids are on Whatsapp or Snapchat? Do they have to create?
Dan: having done loads of presos to parents in uk and aus ..same issues everywhere for them.
Emma: Yep. Usually the knowledge gap between the two and a fear or lack of motivation by parents to close it

Dan: I agree but parenting is complex… lots of analogies. . Analogies are mostly stupid. Need to focus on the issues.
Dan: fr example do you need to be a football player to coach football
Damian: you need to have played football to coach it ^properly^… Surely
Emma: No, you need to understand the sport I have seen coaches who have clearly never kicked a ball in their life

Emma: I have never used snapchat or Instagram, but am well versed in problems therein and what parents can do.
Dan: absolutely I use most but but not all of them


Ok, that’s the conversation so far. Excuse spelling and grammar errors. I’ve just copied and pasted directly from the Twitter feed.

There is a lot more in this, but not during keynotes. I’ll write more about it tomorrow.

Two final tweets from me:
I can’t talk to my students about Scrillex. I haven’t listened to it. Likewise I need some experience with SM to have a dialogue.

Parents who make decisions about their child’s SM use w/out experience can make judgements based in fear rather than knowledge. #DLTV2014

Advertisements

Child logic

Cute werewolf. Not scary.

Cute werewolf. Not scary.

NB: Thought I’d try drawing my own pictures instead of taking stuff from the Internet. Don’t know how long it will last, but here goes.

My 8yo step-daughter Ophelia is now completely terrified by werewolves. We were over at her friend’s place and they were watching Michael Jackson video clips (damn you Michael, stop messing with our children, even from beyond the grave). When Thriller came on, she was transfixed by Michael’s yellow eyes and ‘cat ears’. It was clear proof that werewolves existed.

That night (P is for parent. The irresponsible responses were probably me. The thoughtful ones were more likely my wife):
O: I’m not going upstairs alone. The werewolf will get me.
P: There’s no such thing. Go to bed.

(I am a caring step-parent)

O: I can’t. Walk me up.
P: No. Turn on the lights on the way up. You’ll be fine.
O: I can’t. If I reach into the room to turn on the lights, the werewolf will get me.

(Aargh)

P: Monsters are scared of you. Just yell “Shoo monsters!” as you climb the stairs. I’ll watch you.
O: Shoo monsters.
P: Louder!
O: Shoo Monsters!

If it were me, I’d be less than reassured that my mother could see me as I was devoured by monsters.

O: There’s something in the spare room.
P: Then don’t go in there.
O: Duh! I have to go past it to get to my room!

Michael's a dick.

Michael’s a dick.

Of course. With a lot of shoo monstering she was in bed. I say don’t give in to fears like this. But when we came up to tuck her in, shortly afterwards, we quizzed her on the werewolf thing.

P: You know werewolves are made up, don’t you? You’re not worried by zombies.

(By this stage, I’m feeling your judgement. Stop it)

O: Zombies are silly.

(Hooray for Plants vs Zombies)

P: And werewolves?

O: Michael Jackson had those yellow cat eyes. I hate Michael Jackson. Why would he do that?

We explained about contact lenses and makeup. We agreed that Michael Jackson was an idiot.

P: You weren’t scared by the ogres or the spiders in Harry Potter, why are they different?

(Again, stop judging)

O: They were, like, sooo not real.

Seriously? She’s 8. She really says this. No more Winx Club for her. Another point: kudos to Michael, whose 80s werewolf effect was more “real” than state-of-the-art CGI.

This conversation lasted all this week. Every now and then:
O: Are werewolves ambushers or scavengers?
P: Neither. They just run about killing people. Plus, they’re not real.

O: In stories, (clever change of tack) when do werewolves come out?
P: During the full moon. Depending on the story, usually the night before, the night of, the night after. But they’re not real.

O: Is it a full moon tonight?
P: Er, yes, but it doesn’t matter, because werewolves aren’t real.

Good parenting.

Good parenting.

O: How do you become a werewolf?
P: It depends. If you are bitten or scratched by one, you become a werewolf. Otherwise they just eat you.
O: So,  (ignoring the eating bit, thank the gods) how did the first werewolf get made?
P: A curse, usually. Someone annoyed a witch or a god.
O: Oh. Do they live in the city? Cos there’s lots of places here for them to hide.
P: Not really. They prefer forests and open spaces.
O: And they’re people, except for the full moon?
P: Yup. But they’re not real.

O: If I was a werewolf, I’d lock myself up during a full moon so I didn’t kill anyone.
P: That’s what Oz did in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (No, she hasn’t seen Buffy)

P: Ok. Seriously. They aren’t real. What evidence do you have to suggest that they are?
O: We-ell, if they were real, I suppose they’d be on the news.
P: Exactly. Have you seen them on the news?
O: No-o.
P: There you go then.

Of course, there is so much wrong with using that argument to make a point that I can’t even begin. But at this point, I’m not trying to have a discussion about belief or the reliability of the media. I just want her to sleep without all of the lights in the house on.

Werewolves don't do doors.

Werewolves don’t do doors.

O: So, werewolves won’t come into the house?
P: Nope. It’s too much of a hassle. There’s always someone wandering about in the bush or down a deserted road. By the way, could you take the dogs out into the backyard so they can go to the toilet?

My wife, working through the issue, got Ophelia to acknowledge that what she’s afraid of, with werewolves, is that she might die. So the issue is death, not a monthly curse and a diet high in raw meat. And that sounds about right for her age.

Not Me: There you do then. There are lots of other ways to die than by werewolf!

(I had to make sure I wasn’t blamed for that comment)

I’m pretty sure I was that age when I realised I might die and started freaking out at night time, much to the consternation of my parents, I would assume. I don’t remember ever abstracting my fear of death through ghosts or werewolves or anything. I went straight for the hardcore stuff. I mentioned that in an earlier blog.

No. Actually, there was an episode of Greatest American Hero. Our hero was lured into a cave or a dark room and then attacked by vampires. He wash!t invulnerable to them and the attacks in the dark freaked me out completely.

My brother-in-law, when we talked about it yesterday, suggested that “an ogre is always an ogre” but that a werewolf can be anybody. Taking that further, the werewolf has always been a metaphor for the beast in all of us. The ability (and even desire) to lash out and be destructive without being responsible for the actions. The werewolf did it, it wasn’t me.

I was going to use O as an intro to something bigger on fear in general, but this looks like a post in itself. Excellent. Fodder for the next one.

Night night. Don’t let the werewolves bite!

*%#ing spiders!

Note: this blog is relatively free of pictures of spiders. There are definitely not any pictures of scary looking spiders. No spiders with pincers raised up and arms waving in the air. Nevertheless, the topic of the blog is pretty much spiders. So if you are too arachnophobic to read about them back off now.

stupid spiderThis morning as I climbed sopping wet out of the shower and pulled my towel off the rack, a large, creepy-looking black spider ran out of the folds and up my arm. Luckily, a combination of my sudden jerk backwards and probably the water on my skin caused it to fall to the floor where I proceeded to beat it to death with my shaving cream can.

Hi, my name’s Damian and I was an arachnophobe. The little bastards scared the crap out of me.

ArachnophobiaFunnily enough, my fear of spiders seems to stem from the movie Arachnophobia. Stupid Spielberg. Mum has no recollection of me being overly scared of spiders as a child, there’s no infant memory of a huge spider crawling up my arm while I’m trapped in my crib, and I never had to reach into a deep web-filled hole to unlock a secret door.

And then, in Year 10 or 11, I watched Arachnophobia back to back with The Exorcist 3 at the Kyabram Plaza Cinema, and then walked home through the spider-infested streets in the dark. I didn’t sleep for a week. And slept with the light on for the week after that.

For at least fifteen years afterwards, I suffered from night terrors where I would wake up convinced that the bed was covered in spiders. And the real thing held both a dreadful fascination and an incredible aversion. I did not suffer a spider to live. Let me clarify: daddy long-legs are not spiders. Money spiders are not spiders. Huntsmen, white tails and anything with a furry brown abdomen and visible eyes is most definitely a spider. And if they messed with me, they received “The Treatment”.

The Treatment consisted of whatever I had in the house at the time, which was rarely bug spray. One night in North Melbourne, I sprayed half a can of mousse at an unfortunate huntsman that decided to make its home in my bathroom. I wanted to make sure that it was stuck solid before I mashed it into a paste with my sneaker.

mousseWith no spider-immobilisers, it became necessary to very carefully use items long enough for me to drop if I missed killing the spider and gave it the chance to run up the weapon for retaliatory purposes. A broom would do it. I know where the saying “I wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole” comes from. And I was remarkably short of 11-foot poles.

Killing a spider when you’re terrified of spiders is an exercise in sheer bravery and abject stupidity. Anything can be a weapon. Usually very stupid things. I don’t want to go near the spider. I know that if I try to kill it I give it a reason to fight back. I also know that if I let it live it will crawl into my mouth while I sleep. Therefore, the lesser of two evils is me with a weapon, rather than me with an open mouth and maybe some drool.

One night, when I was looking after my friend’s house for the holidays, me and my friends found a huntsmen in our room. I was sleeping on the bed. The other two were sleeping on the floor. Therefore, the spider had to go. Our first weapon was a pile of rubber bands, as the spider was up on the roof. Predictably, this had the desired effect of getting the spider off the roof and the absolutely undesired effect of having it drop down the side of the bed. Now the game was on! The hunters became the hunted. We moved the bed. The spider crawled back under the bed. We flipped the bed over. The spider headed back up the wall. I emptied a can of deodorant upon it. The masculine-scented spider dashed off to try and find some lady spiders while it was covered in manly chemicals. With a yell, I slammed a cup over the escaping arachnid. Now the conundrum is: I am holding a cup against the wall. There is a spider under the cup. There is no paper within reach. The other two are laughing at me. But seriously, screw you guys! I saved you from the spider. Now who is going to save me? Eventually they brought me a bill. We slid the bill under the mug. A spider leg was caught in the bill as it slid out the other side. It took all three of us to hold both mug and bill, crab-walk to the front door, and then, after a count-down, hurl mug, bill and spider out into the darkness.

So, finally, I am apologising to my friend, who must have missed his mug and paid late fees on his bill, because there was no way I was going to go out and pick them up.

Garfield and Spiders

I used to kill spiders, and then leave the corpses out in the open where the other spiders could see the price of trespass in my house. It was a warning: Here be death to spiders! Intruders will be subjected to hairspray and possibly set on fire.

And sometimes, the spider corpse would disappear. This didn’t help my state of mind. Now, the spiders were immortal. And probably out for revenge. Various people have since pointed out that for most of my life I’ve lived with cats, and spiders make a good midnight snack for Kitty, especially when they’re laid out. Most cats can deal with a little bit of hairspray on their spider.

webI’m no longer arachnophobic. I don’t like spiders. I don’t tolerate nasty ones (or huntsmen, that aren’t really nasty) in my house. But having a girlfriend (and now a wife) I just can’t justify being that scared and still calling myself Lord and Protector of the home.

I remember one night getting a text at around one in the morning. “Are you awake? There’s a spider in my room and I’m not going to bed until it’s gone.” I drove from Camberwell to Brighton that night, on a mission to rid the damsel in distress of her nasty monster. Going into the house, and the bedroom, I steeled myself (maybe aluminium-ed), trapped it under a glass, slipped a bit of paper underneath it, took it outside, bent over and let it loose onto the lawn, with a “There ya go, little feller!” as it scuttled away. I handed her the glass and letter, and that was the end of it. She was suitably impressed.

I’ll finish up with this: one day, a few years ago, I was bitten by a white tail. My leg blew up and turned purple. I had a massive headache. I looked up the symptoms on the Internet (NEVER DO THIS) and discovered I had meningococcal and was likely to die in pretty short order. Now a little panicked, I headed to the doctor, who told me I’d been bitten by a spider and that if I hadn’t been taking steroid pills for a skin condition it would have been a LOT worse. The spider had crawled into my jeans, which had been lying on the floor, and bitten me when I put them on.

So, not only have the little bastards made my life a living hell, they are now forcing me to clean up my room!

Edit: Wednesday 12/12/12 (sometime after 12:12.12).

On the Friday night after writing this, I went to the Moonlight Cinema to see Looper. On the way home from Dave’s place, I pulled out of the carpark, started up the street and then almost crashed the car. Staring at me defiantly, eight beady eyes narrowed, was a spry-looking huntsman, right in the centre of my windshield. Oh, and not on the outside either.

Unwelcome visitor

Unwelcome visitor

I pulled over to the side of the road, put on the hazard lights (I mean, what could be more hazardous than a man with a spider in his car?) and jumped out in search of a weapon. Gone are the days when I would just abandon the car and start walking home from Port Melbourne to Ringwood. But this intrusion WOULD NOT STAND! Even on eight furry little legs.

I used a squeegee. The things with a wiper blade on one side and a sponge on the other? Squeegee. The sponge is good as a blunt instrument. The blade is good for getting cocky spiders when they crawl into the crack between the windshield and the dash.

With four or five cars backed up behind me, I drove off again, squeegee in hand, having driven the spider into hiding. As I drove, he ventured out onto the windscreen again.

I smacked him with the squeegee, praying that the blow wouldn’t knock him off the windscreen and into my lap. I had him on the run. He made a dive for safety at the other side of the car and I collected him with a vicious sweep of my squeegee, blade first, crushing him against the window.

And then I turned right across the lights, with slightly ragged nonchalance. Over the next two blocks, I kept an eye on the little mongrel. It twitched a couple of times, but by the time I hit real traffic in the city, he was stone dead.

Of course, I’ve left him there. As a warning to the others.

Post Navigation

%d bloggers like this: