Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Ga ga Wiggles groupies

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It had been whispered about for a few days, spoken about in hushed tones and secret code (note to self: husband does not understand my secret code, nor me his). The fateful day wheeled around regardless: our family was being granted a five minute audience with the kings of kiddie rock, the Wiggles.

I could not tell anyone about it beforehand as I was worn to secrecy but also because I hardly dared believe it was true. As far as I am aware, neither my husband nor myself had ever used our positions as journalists to pull strings this big. My husband accused me of being more excited than our toddler about it and he was right: I could barely sleep the night before in anticipation!

Well, can you blame me? As outlined previously, I have watched these guys every single day of my life for the last two years (almost) - whether it be the obligatory 25 minute show on the Kids' Channel or a wet, cranky 2 x DVD afternoon. I read about them and what they're up to: I want to know more about them. I know. I'm pathetic.

So when the chance to slip in before my husband's colleague interviewed the group for Campbell Live cropped up, we leapt at the chance.

Naturally, and as expected, the toddler barely knew what was going on. The baby, whose third word (after 'mama' and 'dada') was 'wigg-gul', was her usual wide-eyed self.

We snuck up to the penthouse suite of the luxury hotel the lads were staying in and awaited our fate ... four punnets of fruit salad clasped in our hot little hands.

We first saw Murray. Incredibly tall, rather tired looking (well, he's got 22 concerts in front of him, the poor blighter!) and looking resplendent in red. He struck up an amiable conversation, first with the children (toddler looking and sounding like a stunned mullet) and then with us.

He was incredibly nice, actually expressing some sympathy with me when I said I watched the Wiggles every day! ("Oh you must be over it by now!" he said.)

What I wanted to say - but couldn't quite get out - was "thank you for making child-rearing slightly easier with your incredibly tuneful, colourful and reasonably interesting DVDs!"

Captain Feathersword was milling around and Sam - the new yellow Wiggle - made his introductions. I don't think, however, it was all on for us until Jeff arrived, a few minutes later.

Anthony was with him, his blue eyes shimmering off his blue skivvy (he's the 'sexy' one, as many of the women in the room appeared to confirm), but for our son it is, always has been and always will be, Jeff who is king.

At first our son was shy, burying his head in his father's shoulder. Then all the Wiggles offered to wake him up, which was very good of them. And then - fabulously - Jeff fell asleep and it was my son's turn to wake him up.

The photo of this momentous sequence of events perfectly captures his joy and excitement. What a cool memory for us! And what great guys those Wiggles are.

Long may they reign!

*****

Much has been said about the Samoan woman who gave birth on the Pacific Blue flight between Samoa and Auckland. There have been reports that the woman should be pitied and that shame drove her to her desperate act. And also, reports that the Samoan community from whence she came will support her and her baby.

It is hard not to feel some sympathy for this woman. But she is not a frightened young teenager, nor is she a first time mother. She is a 29 year old woman who already has a child in Samoa.

It may be that extreme financial hardship led the woman to needing and protecting her New Zealand job at all costs. But it's hard to understand why wanting to be unencumbered by a new baby would not lead to the more rational act of using birth control, or addressing the pregnancy at a much earlier stage.

The only thing I feel sure about is that the New Zealand Police, for all their supposed faults, would have assessed this woman and would be aware of whether she was mentally unwell or just plain in the wrong.

They would - surely - not have separated a newborn from her mother without very good cause, nor charged her with assault if it had merely been the case of abandoning the child safely to a better life.

Mother and baby may well be reunited, and her Samoan community may well rally 'round and support her. But this is not about culture. There are people of all colours who prove - even at the earliest stages - that they can not, should not, be parents.

Does this woman fit as neatly into this category, as the facts we know so far would suggest?

- Dita De Boni

Click here for photos

Pictured above: My son smiles after successfully waking Jeff. Photo / Dita De Boni

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