As far as I know, I've never even been pregnant, but apparently I can have lost-child dreams anyway. The two girls--who looked nothing like me--were now at university, doing very un-me degrees like Mathematics. They were very unhappy to meet their long-lost fictional mother.
"Where were you? Why did you leave us?" they demanded as I desperately tried to remember giving birth to them.
I woke up next to B.A. crying my eyes out. Poor B.A. We were on holiday in either Rome or Barcelona at the time. Probably Barcelona. It was very hot.
The moral of that story is that never having children is sad and can haunt you for years afterwards, but it doesn't kill you, of course, and you just go on with your life.* You might even think about parenting decisions in a dispassionate sort of way and say, "If we had kids, I wouldn't let them...." to your husband. If you're smart you don't share these thoughts with actual, you know, parents.
But if I had kids, I wouldn't let them go to music festivals (with one exception). While pondering the horrible death of a Scottish TV star's daughter at "Bestival", I considered the great discomfort of British music festivals. Our soggy island has several mass concert events held in fields, and naturally it rains a lot here, so thousands of (predominantly urban) young people are forced to camp cheek-by-jowl in the mud.
"It sounds very uncomfortable," I said.
"That's why everybody there drinks and take drugs," said B.A.
"If we had kids, I wouldn't let them go to music festivals," I said. "Except one. 'You want to go to a music festival? Fine. You can go to Bayreuth and listen to Wagner for three days. Have fun.'"
Thinking about my friends who really do have children, I was quite heartened by the power and influence parents actually have. The children I know in traditional Catholic circles, including the teenagers, seem to be on the obedient side and go along with their parents' rules about the World. I'm never really sure they get my pop culture references as they don't watch television, surf the internet, or read Harry Potter. Instead they read gazillions of books published before 1963, draw, paint, camp, sing, play piano, play outdoors, compose and perform plays, go uncomplainingly (and in some cases enthusiastically) to Mass, make home films and, above all, do their schoolwork.
I assume these incredibly healthy, intelligent and personable (if sometimes naughty) children are the way they are because THE authorities in their lives are their mothers and fathers, with some carefully chosen teachers and scout leaders as the parents' loyal auxiliaries. The parents, being very well educated as well as loving and clever, refuse to cede their authority to the television, radio, internet, celebrities, or super-cool priests who "love kids". Having all the money on their side, they refuse to buy electronic babysitters. They also keep a sharp eye on whose children their children play with.
A quick survey of my trad friends-with-kids turns up at least two lawyers and some university professors/lecturers, incidentally. They are smart, smart like the Silicon Valley millionaires who don't let their kids use the internet either.
I say all this not to judge parents whose children drink and drug at music festivals, for I do not know their circumstances, and they themselves may have been abandoned by their parents to the television, newspapers and stupid magazines. They may have also been told so many times that they have little power (and should have little power) in the lives of their children that they believe it.
No, I am writing all this out to proclaim that modern parents have an enormous amount of power as long as they are vigilant and don't cede it to someone else. The maxim that teenagers always rebel against their parents is untrue. When a teenage friend told me that an adult at school once asked her how she rebelled against her parents, she was confused. She loved and respected her parents, whom she rightly believed strove for her best interests. Why would she rebel against them?
Meanwhile, I doubt this girl knows a quarter of what I have to know, thanks to my job, about the insanity of modern society. She would shocked and horrified to discover that an increasing number of girls her age want to take hormones and get surgery to "become boys". She would be mystified that a driving engine behind this trend is the so-called "transgender Youtube stars" PMS-bloated girls obsessively watch. Does she even know what Youtube is? (Hmm...) Does she have a mobile phone? (Scratches head.)
As a matter of fact, I am not myself a Wagner fan, so I would be open to some musical festival other than Bayreuth, as long as it was not characterised by sex, drugs, or rock-and-roll. Apparently there is a Monteverdi festival in Cremona every May.
(Oooh...and a Bach festival in Leipzig in June.)
You may point out that the girl who died at Bestival was a day short of her 25th birthday. To that I reply that nobody gets to the age of 25 in a cultural vacuum. The child is mother to the woman, and a child brought up to despise decadence will probably still despise it at 24.
*Another moral to the story: don't name children before they're even conceived. The imaginary girls in my dream had names I had picked out in case they came into existence one day. How disturbing was that? I'll tell you: extremely.
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