Complex child, parent relationship

2012-01-11 00:00

NARRATED in the voice of a six-year-old boy, the book starts off rather slowly. A boy with too much energy walks with his father to the park.

If you are a parent you will understand the father’s irritation at the child’s constant demands. The boy is not naughty — he is just typically full of energy — but his father is not having a good day.

He has had it — untied shoelaces, spilt drinks and then the boy makes a mad dash across a busy road. In a split second he reacts — he smacks the boy, “hard very hard”.

The consequences of this action will resound throughout the book as an observer reports the incident to social services.

Within days the boy’s whole world is turned upside down. The book questions the right we have to judge others and also the sometimes tragic consequences of these snap judgments.

A visit from a child protection officer follows, but thanks to a series­ of tragicomic coincidences it escalates into something far more serious. Through the eyes of the six-year-old, the mess made by the grown-ups seems even more stupid.

He tries to make sense of the chaos with sometimes humorous results.

The author tries to explain the reasoning inside a small boy’s head and one feels the confusion as he tries to justify his father’s actions to make sure everything goes back to normal.

Life as a parent and life as a child is not easy and making decisions is not simple. It is far easier to judge others and to criticise. This book captures the complex relationships between adults and children. But it is not a pleasant read as it does cause some angst and anxiety.

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