Bad Dad?

Books, Family, Oliver James, Openshaw, Parenting, Racism

So, I’m walking down Cheeryble St in Openshaw this week to get to my own road, Ambush St (I’m not kidding), and I notice three little girls (all about 5 years old) sitting outside the front door of one of the houses, giggling and seemingly enjoying themselves. And, as anyone would, I smile in their direction and carry on walking up the road.

At this point, one of the girls shouts: “Paki! What are you looking at?”

I’m unsure as to whether she’s addressing me, as I don’t look remotely Asian. But I turn my head again to just smile at her and let her know I’m not phased and not a threat to her.

And her next words were “Do you wanna fight?” And she seemed serious. She was wearing a Man Utd top and everything.

Needless to say I didn’t take her up on her offer, but I did end up feeling like something very random had just happened, and very annoyed at such an obnoxious little kid.

Thankfully I did pray about it too and realised that the only explanation as to why someone so young would say those kind of things, particularly making such a specific racist comment to a white guy, is that she’s merely copying a role model in her life, probably her dad. And then my anger transferred from the girl to her obnoxious, racist dad and I started praying for her safety.

Then yesterday I bought the book “They F*** You Up: How to Survive Family Life” by Oliver James, which had been recommended to me by Dan Reynolds of Frontline Church, and it’s all about how the first six years of a person’s life hold many secrets as to the person they become. And I’m sure this book is gonna challenge me loads about my own life as well as understanding other people.

Has anyone else experienced racism and aggression from strangers as young as 5?

I’ll finish by promising you 2 things:
(1) i won’t mention books in every blog I write
(2) my reference of words like Paki and F*** will be sporadic


7 thoughts on “Bad Dad?

  1. When doing an outreach week in the middle of London I was called a ‘Gay Bastard’ by a very young looking boy.

    I’d like to borrow that book. Elijah being 3 he’s half way through that 6 year development.

  2. It’s interesting that you asterisk the far less offensive word ‘fuck’ and not ‘paki’. That’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation!

    The age of 7 – 9 is also massively important too. You develop a lot of your lifetime habits at this age, and if you’re in a dangerous or threatening environment, you can develop habits out of fear, self defence or just a need to control.

    Incidentally, our habits are one of the few things in life that we can control, and if we are afraid the outside world (ie bullies, family stuff) we will lock in those habits quite firmly and our control mechanisms (over-eating, passive aggression, fitness regimes, emotional walls, drinking, etc) become our learned behaviour.

    Sheesh, you’re got me thinking. I’m going to buy that book!

  3. Do you think that the transference of your anger went far enough?

    After All, the Dad was a kid once and was therefore influenced by his dad, or mum, or PCG, and then so on and so on.

  4. Hmm…three things, I guess;

    1)That is a *fantastic* book! Do you know the poems the title references?

    2) In regards to that last question, hoo boy, I could tell you some stories. I think it’s a bit different in a couple of ways, though, because American racial history and interaction seems *so* much more loaded than here. That girl you met obviously didn’t know what her words meant, otherwise she wouldn’t have used them on you. I’ve often been a very visible ethnic minority in places that I was obligated to go(like *school*– hooray for integration & diversity programs), so most of the epithets I’ve heard from young children were delivered with a cruel knowledge of what those words meant, which made it worse in many ways.

    3)I haven’t encountered *anything* as virulent as your story here yet…but the fact that a little girl hollered this at *you*, of all people…a very not-vulnerable appearing standard issue white guy…means that I am NEVER visiting Openshaw, ever!

  5. Working at a High School in the middle of a council estate on the end of the Fenchurch street line I receive abuse from 11-16yr olds on almost a daily basis. It makes me convinced that working in the primary sector and maybe helping young people by providing a firm, fair, positive role model & displaying some morals to them has to go some way to breaking down some of the bad experinces they have of behaviour from their peers and families.
    Its painful to hear insults like that comming from the mouth of such a young child, and motivating to see the world changed to display some more kingdom values.
    peace Matt.


  6. Wow, gotta love Openshaw! I know it wasn’t supposed to, but this blog made me smile – I love hearing stories about the joys of living in marginalized communities.

    At LiveWires (children’s drop in centre we ran in Collingwood) – we banned the C**t word – for obvious reasons, but for a while that was used to describe – well anyone really. I’ve never been called a racist name by a 5 year old, but I have had lots of experience with 5 year olds being racist – one of the Indigenous Australian kids at LiveWires would call one of the African kids a “Black C**t” all the time – until of course we pointed out that she was indeed black herself, and perhaps it’s not a good idea to insult people based on the colour of their skin!

    Man I miss LiveWires! Kids in Torquay are altogether too nice!!

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