That’s the only word that describes the noise my daughter made when she saw the sky above her home fill with those spindly, white smokey letters last weekend: VOTE NO.
Gasp. “But Mummy, how could they write that?”. Gasp. “What about VOTE YES?”
My daughter is seven. Her grasp on the mechanics of the non-compulsory Marriage Law Postal Survey is tenuous, at best. In that, she is not alone.
But one thing she knows for sure is that YES is the right box to tick in response to the question: Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?
How does she know this? Because I have told her so. Because her dad has told her so. Because we are, when it comes to this issue, and a handful of others, unequivocally influencing her and her little brother in their personal beliefs.
In short, we are brainwashing our children.
To brainwash, according to the dictionary, means to "pressurise (someone) into adopting beliefs by using systematic and often forcible means."
We are doing that. Forcible might be a stretch, but I wonder what might have happened to my daughter's regular supply of Shopkins blind-bags and walk-home Calippo icey-poles if she had looked at me filling out the postal survey and said, "Actually Mum, I think you should vote 'no'."
It wouldn't have been pretty.
Is this ethical? As parents, we have two jobs (more? We have more jobs than that?) - keeping our children safe, and raising them to function in the world without us. Raising children into adults who can think for themselves is, allegedly, a crucial piece of this puzzle. Passing our own prejudices onto our children is generally frowned upon. But is it also impossible to avoid?
My daughter's at the age where she asks a lot of questions. A lot. If I have the radio on in the kitchen while I'm making her school lunch, she's all ears. "What's Donald Trump done NOW?" she asks with an eye-roll, at the mention of his name. "How does an earthquake kill people?" "Does a black hole suck you up?" "Do we have murder in Australia?" All this before 7am.
So there was zero chance that the marriage equality conversation was going to pass her by. Especially since, although my children are growing up in a home with two straight parents, LGBTQI people are part of their daily lives. It raises no eyebrows from them that their uncles are gay men. It bothers them not that some of their friends have "two mums". They are children who, like most, decide whether they like people on the grounds of how interested those people are in them, and whether or not they have a fridge full chocolate (hello, uncles).
So from that starting point, I could argue that my children have made up their own minds about this issue. But that wouldn't be true.
Listen to Holly and Andrew Daddo discuss talking to your kids about same-sex marriage on the podcast This Glorious Mess:
"Some people believe that men and men, or women and women, shouldn't be able to get married," I explained to Matilda, months ago. "Those people are wrong."
I didn't add "They're entitled to their opinion." I didn't say, "I'm sure they have their reasons." I didn't say, "And that's their business."
Because, although I am keen to raise free-thinking children who can think for themselves, I am also keen to teach my children that there are matters of opinion, and then there's just plain right and wrong. And into the 'wrong' bucket falls sexism, racism, deliberate cruelty of all kinds and blatant injustice.
If there's one language that children speak, it's justice. Fairness is a big, big thing for kids. As you will know if you have ever tried to give one sibling a piece of birthday cake that minutely differs in size to the other's.
So we will systematically keep talking to Matilda and her brother about this particular injustice until, hopefully, their brainwashing is complete. And, whatever today's opinion polls say, until we no longer have to have this conversation because justice has been done.
Because there are times to let your children make up there own minds, and then there are the times we're living in.
There aren't many neat and tidy answers to complex problems in our world. "It's complicated," are two words I utter far too often as a parent, in that kitchen with the radio on. But marriage equality holds no such confusion. The answer is as simple as the happy ending in the fairytales my daughter gobbles up in Disney movies.
Love is love. The end.
What do you tell your kids about marriage equality?
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