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l'enfer du North Island

  plus, they tried to cut my head in two Monday 22 March 2010 link

Children are natural anarchists.

That's not a throwaway line about kids being terribly destructive, it's an observation based on the weekend. We had Rebecca's sixth birthday party yesterday. We prepared. We prepared some more. I personally made twenty individual servings of jelly, each with a sugar snake in the middle. And then the onslaught occurred.

Now, those of you without older children probably don't know how kids' parties go. Once they're in school, it's like this. The party is scheduled run from 2-5pm. Between 1:55 and 2:05pm, all the guests arrive. Their parents drop them off, make polite enquiries as to whether it's OK to just run away now; receiving an affirmative reply, they disappear off to the far corners of the earth, to reappear between 4:55 and 5:05pm and retrieve their hyped-up offspring.

So by 2:10, we had a house full of 6-year old girls. There was a lot of pink clothing and high-pitched screaming. Righto, we thought, let's get on with the scheduled merriment.

Except that we couldn't, because all the kids had run out to the back garden and spontaneously organised a game of tag. Then they organised "expeditions" to the bottom of the garden. Then back upstairs for a round of musical statues, for which one of them figured out how to work the volume knob on the stereo. Then off again to play dress-ups and pretend to be pirates.

During all this we (the adults) just sat back, had a quiet chat in the kitchen, and kept an eye out for injuries or social exclusion. The kids entertained themselves with a variety of games for the first hour. At one point I overheard several of them talking about how it was the "best birthday party ever" because they were getting to do what they wanted, rather than corralled into pre-defined games. They spontaneously formed themselves into groups and organised themselves. My anarchist comrades (by which I mean, my comrades, who happen to be anarchists, which I myself am not) assure me that this is the sort of behaviour that anarchism argues for. Hence, my argument that kids are natural anarchists.

After the first hour, we decided to throw a bit of order into the proceedings, because quite frankly I'd spent $25 on that piñata and I thought some sanctioned violence might be interesting to throw into the mix. The kids played Pin the Tail on the Donkey very nicely, only pinning the tail on me once. And the piñata went down very well. We started out using a bamboo pole, so all the kids got a chance to hit it; after five minutes, we upgraded them to a heaver bludgeon. I must say, The Warehouse is reinforcing their piñatas these days - after ten minutes of thrashing, its back snapped shortly before the legs finally came off. In a slight departure from tradition, I grabbed the corpse and ran upstairs to do a lolly scramble onto the back lawn - which meant that I came out onto the deck to a synchronised chant of "Lol-lies, lol-lies..." - it's that autonomous organising again. After this, we gave them iceblocks, jelly, and cake, and then let them run around screaming for another hour before releasing them back into the wild.

So the party was a success; many thanks to Suzy for the incredible cake and to the various other parents who stayed and helped us with the wrangling. Rebecca had a wonderful time, and the day ended without any major injuries. Well, nothing requiring hospitalisation.

On Friday night, we went out to meet Urs and Em's new baby, Piri. He's a braw wee lad. Rebecca was initially nervous about the venue - the anarchist centre on Abel Smith st - which she described as "scruffy" (an adjective also applied to me when I didn't wear a tie when we took her out to dinner on her birthday). But someone showed her the garden, which had some aniseed growing. Ten minutes later, she was walking through an anarchist squat, "selling" samples of "herbs". Well, she liked the smell of the aniseed, and she thought it would be nice to give some to all the other people there...

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