I’m not what you would call an ‘Earth Mother’. Unless in the last five years someone has developed an ingenious technique for applying liquid eyeliner and breastfeeding at the same time, then there is little or no chance of me whipping out my Mirena anytime soon. That’s not to say that I don’t like children. They’re right up there with my favourite people ever and there’s a very simple reason for this:
I am totally and utterly, head-over-heels, arse-over-tit, insanely, thoroughly, unconditionally and completely in love with gloriously batshit people. The sort of people who literally could not care two fucks what people think of them. They bounce off life’s walls like rubber bullets and somehow manage to only land in the gutter every one in four times. The sight of their absolute abandon makes my heart swell with joy and always has. I adore these people in the most aspirational way.
I went to a playground with my daughter late yesterday afternoon and watched in awe as her little brain fired her off this way and that, up and down, suddenly stopping to change direction entirely and run like bloody fuck off to a previously unexplored area without a jot of hesitation. There were kids dangling by their ankles, swinging off of climbing frames so high that I winced. Footballs flying through the air, skimming past the noses of baffled toddlers. It was fucking mayhem and it was superb.
Like the world in miniature, sensible ones sat at tables, or gently swinging and using the slides as slides (not as portals to another universe), watching at the side-lines as the magnificently deranged children inhabited their caution-free world. Over time, some of these children will fall away to those side-lines as a sense of their own mortality, life events, fear and society shape the way they conduct themselves in the world. But some will remain dangling by the ankles with their pants on show.
And they are My Heroes.
I’m not much enamoured by other people’s heroes, so don’t really pay them too much mind. They’re usually given a half-hearted pedestal for their accomplishments, good looks, achievement or some other ‘illustrious’ act (unless it’s one of the ‘my hero is my mum’ brigade. Why’s that, because she managed to restrain herself from headbutting you into next century, you saccharine bastard?). When you ask people what quality they truly admire in their heroes, it’s all a bit…pedestrian.
“He followed his dream”
“She sacrificed everything for her cause”
“He paved the way for…*insert whatever here*”
OH BLOODY YAWN.
Give me a flawed, wayward, stubborn, hyperactive and downright naughty-doesn’t-give-a-shit hero any day of the week. I want Courtney Love having her bum waxed in front of a journalist, Pablo Picasso’s inability to love just one woman at a time, Madonna’s life of sequential fuck you’s, Bettie Page corrupting youth with mail-order bondage, Robert Mapplethorpe’s flagrant disregard for the obscene publications act, Lady Gaga’s meat frock, Tracy Emin’s life as an open book, Vivienne Westwood showing off her fanny, Keith Moon’s inability to not blow stuff up, Kate Bush being Kate Bush and Quentin Crisp calling Princess Diana ‘Trash’.
They have all the traditional ‘hero’ credentials – talent/looks/achievement – but they have something else too. In the olden days it would be called ‘balls’. Not particularly appropriate, you’ll agree. ‘Audacity’ might be a decent word, but it just doesn’t capture the breathtaking sense of freedom that each and every one of them (and many others) has in spades. They are in no way tempered by any kind of restraint, open-mouthed, open-hearted and veering between extremes.
These people are criticised and targeted, accused and defamed by fucking idiots who don’t understand that Courtney Love in all her batshit glory and every child who uses the climbing frame as a space ship to Saturn see the world in a different way – it’s a playground, so it can be anything you want it to be. It can change in minutes. The floor is soft and the bars are high. Every fall teaches us something new and we should never be afraid of the world seeing our knickers.
The less you give a fuck the happier you’ll be.