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Children protesting against Abbott

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RJ Gosling and his six-year-old daughter at the March in Sydney, August 2014

Should we be taking our kids to anti-Abbott protests and inculcating them in our progressive beliefs? RJ Gosling says: yes.

“Why are we out in the rain, Dad?”

“Because we don’t like Tony Abbott sweetheart.”

We were at the Sydney Anti Abbott March in March and my daughter was frowning at the flat white sipping umbrellas around us.

“Why?”

“Because he’s bad to refugees.”

We explained what refugees were.

“And he’s bad to gay people.”

We explained how Uncle Luc couldn’t marry Uncle Marc.

“And he’s bad to the barrier reef”.

This caught her attention, Nemo needs reefs.

“And he’s bad to schools.”

My wife is a teacher so we leaned on Gonski, but six-year-olds are not really geared to liking school.

On my shoulders, she caught the beat of Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tony Abbott’s Got To Go. She loves singing and was soon joining in, arms waving, shouting in my ear as I sweated the walk to Victoria Park.

I’m too polite to protest, it's the residual English in me, so as people bellowed their anger at Abbott I mumbled mine and added polite footnotes to my daughters’ enthusiastic chanting:

Hey hey, ho ho!”

(If you wouldn’t mind, would it be possible.)

“Tony Abbott Has to Go!”

(If that would be OK, thanks)

Come the march in June, she was keener.

She explained what was happening to her brother who’d been lost in Minecraft with an ankle injury in March.

She drilled him loudly, chanting on the bus”

“Tony Abbott must go?”

“No, it’s Tony Abbott’s Got to Go.”

He was eight so his reading was better and he asked the inevitable:

“Dad, why are they wearing ‘F*ck Tony Abbott’ t-shirts?”

“Mate, you didn’t need to say the word out loud”

“But why Dad?”

“Because they don’t like Tony Abbott.”

“I don’t like him either.”

“Good mate.”

“So can I say f*ck today?”

“No, you can’t.”

“F*CK TONY ABBOTT” a passing woman shouted and my son grinned.

“Well what can I say?”

My daughter came to the rescue:

“You know what we say, we say ‘Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tony Abbott’s Got To Go’”

He joined in unenthusiastically and we walked, her on my shoulders again chanting with gusto.

The other marchers were mostly on good form but a few pushed the boundaries of what I wanted my kids to see. Girls spattered in blood declaring their vaginas against Abbott had me turning my sons head this way and that to keep him from asking about vaginas.

My daughter waved and cheered and shouted and clapped and marchers waved to her and cheered with her and shouted with her and I got embarrassed from all the attention and hoped Tony would leave soon so I wouldn’t have to do this again.

But he didn’t, so I did.

For the march in August we made signs.

My eight-year-old:

“I think Tony Abbott is the worst person ever. Stop ruining the country I’m growing up in.”

My daughter, in pastel:

 'BOO TONY ABBOTT'

I was very proud.

Carrying a six-year-old with a sign like that gets you attention and a journalist asked if he could interview me.

As he pulled out his pen and flipped over his pad, my mind went utterly blank.

What are you marching for?”

“Uhm, education”

“So Gonski?”

“Uhm yeah. My wife is a teacher.”

I looked around for her knowing she would be far better at answering these questions than me. After all, she’s the woman who berated Whitlam over Timor. She’s the woman who knocked Rupert Murdoch to the ground while drunk and didn’t apologise. She’s the woman who catches spiders for me when they scuttle across the carpet.

The journalist continued.

“What else?”

I heard myself say:

“It's a vibe thing, I’m marching for the vibe … of Abbott being bad … you know.”

Fortunately, my daughter, hearing Abbott’s name, shouted:

“Boo Tony Abbott, we hate Tony Abbott, he’s killing the crate carrier reef and doesn’t like my mum cause she’s a teacher.”

The photographer took her picture and my vibe quote didn’t make the paper. The journalist was from The Telegraph, so I wasn’t too upset.

My kids’ Walk to School Day fell between marches.

TV crews were there with puff piece journalists dressed in shades of yellow, orange and lipstick. My kids ran high fiving into the crowd.

Come the right time, the school population walked (marched) towards school and my daughter looked at me.

“Dad?”

“Yes, darl?”

“Is this a protest?”

“No love, it’s Walk to School Day.”

“Dad?”

“Yes love?”

“Its like a protest.”

“It is a bit isn’t it? Less shouting though.”

Less angry vaginas and less t-shirts with the F word as well I thought.

“Dad?”

“Yes, love?”

“I’m going to protest right here.”

The kids from Fame flashed to mind and I watched as my daughter took off, shouting at the top of her voice.

“Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tony Abbott’s Got To Go!”

Kids believe whatever you tell them. Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. If you tell them so they believe racism is acceptable, that God exists, that abortion is evil, or it’s okay to drive home after a few beers.

If they watch you do it, they believe buying lottery tickets is a good idea. If they watch you eat it they know fast food is real food.

My wife and I are leading our kids in protest against Abbott. Is that a huge leap from being in The Westboro Church picketing abortion clinics and homosexuals with their kids?

It’s the same shoes, certainly, but a a very different path — at least in my opinion. I’m deliberately raising happy little atheist socialists. I feel as comfortable with this as extremist parents likely do telling their kids Intelligent Design is fact. What is apparent to me though is my kids like people ‒ pretty much all people ‒ they just don’t think much of Tony Abbott.

On Walk to School Day, my son caught sight of his sister and started shouting with her and, like an overweight New York taxi driver surrounded by choreographed kids from the School of Performing Arts, I joined in and we did the show right there.

Protesting is a good show, even the rough edges and Anti Abbott Vaginas. Even with the ‘F*ck Tony’ t shirts.

Tony Abbott masked protestor carries a happy child through the crowd at the Sydney March in March (Image by Stephen Gilandis via abc.net.au)

Take your kids, teach them to shout a good message.

Hey Hey, Ho Ho, Tony Abbott Got To Go!

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There is a ‘Rally against Abbott’ on in Melbourne this afternoon, starting at 2pm. Click here or on the image below for more details.

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