Artistic Discoveries in European Schoolyards

Bouke Oldenhof (The Netherlands)

Thank you

Text Extract

It struck me that 12 year old children start thanking their parents for the things they do for them. Not only did my children do this, other people’s children as well. It is curious that the children express their dependency and their independency at one time in this way.

[An adult actor. Children speaking the words of the grown ups as a mirror image.]

The only thing I can do by myself is cry.
From my first second in the world.
Afterwards they taught me everything,
the people I learned to call my father and mother.
But from the beginning on I could cry.
By myself.
And that is the best thing to do,
because everytime you time you cry,
there are people coming up
to ask what they can do for you.

And then I learned to laugh at them,
because they never did me any harm.
They said:
- Hello!
And I said:
- Krr.
I learned to call them Mum and Dad.
They taught me to say:
- Good morning.
- Good afternoon.
- How are you?
- I’m fine, thank you.
And they taught me the rules of the adults.
- Shake hands and say who you are.
- Hello. I’m myself.
- No, say your name.
When you give something to someone, you say:
- There you are.
And the other one says:
- Thank you.
And then the first one says:
- Never mind.
It is very easy when you know it.
It is nice doing it once you learned it.
It is boring when you’ve done it hundreds of times.
Everybody knows what you’re going to say.
Nobody listens, nobody cares.
Unless you don’t say these words.
Then they start a long lesson with you,
that is what parents are for.
And it allways ends up that you do
what the adults want you to do.
Grown-ups are so predictable.

- Thank you, grandma, for my tea,
why does grandfather drink a beer?
- Thank you auntie for your present.
It is the same present you gave me last year.
- Thank you mister teacher,
thank you for your sermons.

Actually, there’s one good thing about parents:
they don’t ask you to say:
- Thank you, Mummy and Daddy
everytime they do something for you.
- Thank you for my allowance.
- Thank you for the food.
- Thank you for washing my clothes.
Imagine you should have to thank them all the time.

But when I think about doing in return to them
as much as they did to me, it frightens me.
When they are old and helpless.
- Mummy, open your mouth, I’ll feed you.
- Daddy, don’t you think you need a another dry nappy?
And still, it woudn’t be that much
as they did for me in all those years.
I don’t want to think of it.
The thought of their old bodies.
The waddling of their skins.
And they stink of course.
I did when I was young,
why shouldn’t they when they’re old?

I can’t think of doing so much for anyone.
I would never ever have a child.
My Providence. Crying, nappies, cooking.
Maybe just for one day,
so that I know that I really don’t want that.
I don’t understand why my parents wanted me.
I guess I was nice when I was a baby.
But now I’m a bit older
and I know a bit more what I want.
I don’t think I’m a nice child at home.
I don’t want to be one either.
I want to know what I do myself,
and not just obey orders.
- Do you homework.
- Clean up the mess.
It’s okay that they want me to do that
and I don’t mind doing it,
because we’re living together in one house.
But I can think of it myself.
I want to do it in my own time.
And in my own way. Sounds normal to me.

I don’t ask my parents if they still would have had me
if they had known their child was going to be me.
If they had known how much work a child is,
and how long having a child lasts.
And I don’t think about a reason
for not asking them that.

My father and mother are still okay,
they ’re parents.
But they do not have to do all those things for me.
I can manage myself.
I can wake up in the morning.
I can make my bread.
I can lay the table.
I can do some cooking.
I can choose my clothes better by myself.
I just need money,
but that is normal,
when you are a student or a pupil.

Maybe I shoud say:
- Thank you, Mum.
- Thank you, Dad.
Then they know it is my work they’re doing.
Then they realise they don’t have to do it,
They understand I want to do things myself.
I can do things for them as well.
- Can I bake a cake?
- Shall I clean the car?
- Let me do the dishes.
Don’t get mixed up with my life,
leave me alone. Leave me alone.

I don’t want to make war at home.
They’re doing everything for the best.
For my best.
- Thank you Dad for taking me to school.
- Thank you Mum for fixing my pants.
- Thank you for your attention
when I’m talking about school.
- Thank you for the good meal.
- And please, watch the television program
you want to see,
but don’always ask me first.

Don’t go on making compliments to me.
I don’t need compliments.
That is: not from you.
Because I’m my own boss,
I’m the captain of what I call myself.
I’m looking for my destination.
I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt you.
It is nice you did those things for me.
There’s no need for doing them anymore.

Yet, this is what I really want to say,
when you as grown ups are doing things
for other independant people like me:
- Thank you, Mummy.
- Thank you Dad.


Text written for the PLATFORM 11+ Final Production FACE ME Time of Transition