I'm on a local media fast, just so I don't have to hear commentary on The Slap, an eight parter starting tonight on the ABC based on Christos Tsiolkas' novel of the same name.
For those who have somehow missed The Slap, firstly, give thanks. Secondly, listen up. Breastfed four year old ( apparently the writer's master stroke ) unleashes his inner brat at a suburban barbeque. Friend of family gets fed up with permissive and ineffectual parents and gives him the titular slap. Mother takes him to court for assault (not so ineffectual then), friendships fracture...
Leaving aside the master stroke and any quibbles you may have about whether this scenario truly represents the concerns of 21st century Australia, if I hear one more person share the idea that a little bit of physical discipline is just what our modern darlings need or another parent laugh self-deprecatingly, knowingly - oh yes, I smack sometimes, aren't I naughty! - I will have to go and slap myself until senseless.
In a post-Dickens world, hitting children - yep, even the humble slap - is all kinds of wrong. Having a special category of humans we can physically assault at will ? Wrong. Sure, there are annoying kids. Sometimes they may even be your own. Deal with it. Use your words, as we are so fond of pointing out to our little ones.
When it comes to parenting, there's a lot of ideas in the mainstream I disagree with. Breastfed four year olds as rampaging monsters would be one of them. Very little actually shocks me. Even an adult who hits, in the depths of frustration, fear and helplessness, is explicable. An adult, however, who hits and goes on to justify their action, shocks me almost into silence.
Watch if you like - I've heard the production values are terrific - but the argument is done and dusted. Hitting a kid ? That slap ? That smack on the hand or the butt or back of the legs ? The hurt you administer for their own good or blame on the child - he drove me to it ? Just wrong.