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Altered States



I felt a little bit guilty after drawing this comic – like I hadn’t represented the truth, rather a version of the truth. Not all the middle class families have high fences. And lots of them let their kids play on the street. But it does seem to me that my generation of middle class parents are particularly neurotic, unwilling to let our children roam independently for fear of all the dangers out there. Sometimes I think it’s the news media’s fault. Every day I check the local paper, meaning to read about politics and the world, about things that I can engage in and perhaps take action on. Instead I find myself compulsively reading the stories about children who’ve drowned in puddles, got lost down manholes, gone missing for days, been run over by their dad’s SUV backing out of the drive. They’re what the website has decided is the most important, usually up in the top 4 stories. And then, when you’ve clicked on an article, there’s a helpful list of related stories – tales of child cancer victims and men who’ve murdered their ex-wives and children. It seems like these things are happening all the time, all around us.

Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. What’s happening all the time is we’re ferrying our kids from school to home, we’re squeezing in paid work, we’re vacillating between trying to raise renaissance kids (she can dance! She can play the piano accordion! She can solve algebraic equations!) and relinquishing them the TV or computer so that we can get the dinner on or finish that job that was due this afternoon. We’re all so busy, and lonely. Or perhaps I’m using the royal we. It feels to me that I don’t just hang out with friends nearly as much as my mother’s generation did, thanks to scheduling issues and plain exhaustion. Being a writer/illustrator who works from home while the kids are at school doesn’t help.

And yes, you see right. Most of the kids living in the state houses below the poverty line are Polynesian. My neighbourhood makes the socio-economic divide really obvious. I want to write more about this. But I’m going to have to think carefully first.

Anyway, that was last month’s Metro comic – this month I’ve gone back to restaurant angst:


Oh! And randomly, my sister Melissa Laing has been on the radio talking about the performance ethics podcasts she’s making. They’re very interesting – you should check them out.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 30/04/2014 8:47 pm

    Whoa so true Sarah, all of it.

  2. 30/04/2014 9:35 pm

    Sigh. Well, then, so much for moving to New Zealand to escape the insanity up here.

  3. David Geary permalink
    01/05/2014 4:37 am

    I did a NZ schools’ workshop once and asked the kids to draw a map and identify all the different ‘characters’ in their neighbourhood – be they people, objects or animals. One girl from Epsom said – ‘I only know what our neighbours’ house looks like inside from magazines.’ Genius. You should check out the excellent TED Talk by Jennifer Senior on the crisis of modern parenting. Her commonsense ‘do no harm’ conclusion is great. And our mothers may have had more time to hang out together but you can bet they talked about the careers they’d lost…

  4. 01/05/2014 9:56 am

    This is why you need to move to Wellington, so you can live on a zig zag path and all the neighbours kids can play happily on it without fear of being trampled by SUVs. (But then you realise that some creepy dude has moved in to a flat on the street and the neurosis really kicks in). I think this is one of my favourites (but I think that about most of your comics). And this is SO true: ‘It feels to me that I don’t just hang out with friends nearly as much as my mother’s generation did, thanks to scheduling issues and plain exhaustion.’
    Must go and do some of that exhausting work…

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