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.