I've talked about the subject of kids before but I'm long overdue for a few supplemental observations.
My biggest fear as a potential parent would be to produce a kid that turns out to be an asshole. The world has enough assholes in it and I'm pretty sure that we don't need any more right now.
When I was a kid, being an asshole really wasn't an option. Now, I'm not gonna sit here and claim that no members of my generation acted like jerks as kids, I'm just saying that it just wasn't a viable choice for me or my friends. Here's just a few examples of things that would never have crossed our minds:
- Eating without manners. It didn't matter if you sat at the grownup table or at a foldable T.V. tray, we always ate with a knife and fork, chewed our food in stealth and kept our "friggin' elbows off the table". If you didn't adhere to these directives you ran the risk of being publicly called out as the barn-dwelling savage that you were.
- Being excessively whiney, or as my parents called it "whingey". That old chestnut of "stop cryin' or I'll give you somthin' to cry about!" was delivered with such an unnerving, low-key intensity it makes Kim Jong Un's saber-rattling look like Beyonce's Superbowl photo hissy fit.
- Public meltdowns. For the sake of full disclosure, we're probably all guilty of trying this at least once as kids. But once was often enough since the standard parental rebuttal was a good crack across the arse accompanied by the aforementioned verbal threat. If we were actually stupid enough to persist after that, we'd be hauled away by the scruff of the neck, thrown (often overhand) into the back seat of the car and then spirited away post-haste. NO FUN TIME FOR YOU!!!
- Rank disobedience. For my parents, the word "NO" was like a red flag waved in front of a bull. My mom was the undisputed master of the ancient martial art known as slap-fu (A.K.A. stoogejitsu). With a technique occasionally augmented by a series of deadly implements (wooden spoons, spatulas, boards with a nail in it), the sting of an unexpected backside whack from mom was nothing compared to the humiliation factor.
- Striking anything organic. Except for the odd scrap with another kid or periodic bout of play-fighting, punching or kicking anyone (or anything) was strictly verboten. The concept of smacking an adult, even in jest, was downright ludicrous. If I'd ever made the mistake of hitting one of my uncles, for example, my parents would have funneled every cent of their own money into scientific research in order to produce a device that could destroy me on a sub-atomic level. As the old saying goes: "I brought you into this world and I can take you out."
Well, first off, it's a totally different ball game now. The exorbitant cost of living often requires that both parents remain in the workplace and hand precious formative time over to anonymous daycare overseers. I honestly believe that parents need to imprint their unwavering authority upon their youngsters, especially between the ages of two to four. By the time I started school, for example, the rule of law was immutable in my mind.
Even before kindergarten, a lot of kids find themselves immersed in daycare environments, surrounded by half-baked youngsters of varying temperaments and disciplinary levels who are already testing the nominal authority of the staff. Things get even more confusing for kids when tired, stressed-out adults show up at the end of the day and cart them home. Acting under the influence of unconscious guilt, a lot of tentative moms and dads proceed to immerse their spawn in a conciliatory marinade of overcompensation.
Given all the pop psychology books that modern parents swallow whole like new-age pythons, I'm shocked by how few of them realize just how smart and perceptive their younglings are. Kids notice when a rebellious peer at daycare begins to command attention. Their get a bloated sense of ego when their every move and utterance is watched like cheap entertainment during holidays and family reunions. They see how pathetic and spineless you are when you kow-tow to their every whim in a misguided effort to assuage your own daily abandonment guilt.
Most importantly, kids know when they've been reduced to the role of accoutrement. I'm willing to give parents a pass if they can't afford to keep somebody at home, but I'm nauseated when people breed and then cling to their "careers" in order to clock the most Benjamins, score the swankiest house, go on the splashiest vacations or acquire the largest SUV with the most Blu-Ray players strapped to the roof. For a frightening number of "parents", kids are nothing more then completist afterthoughts - window dressings for appearances well-kept.
Although I harbor a lot of rancor over this last scenario, I know that most parents are just hard working jobbers who had nothing but good intentions when they set out to create their very own mini-me's. Unfortunately, many of them seem genuinely surprised when the world turns out to be vastly different then the one they grew up in. They're positively shocked when economic considerations require that their kids enter the hive mind much quicker and authority-building opportunities between parent and child are fleeting.
Let's face it, back when we were kids we were all completely oblivious. Our parents were our primary source of information. They were simultaneously omnipotent and omniscient. There was about as much solidarity between kids back then as there was during the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Nowadays, things are completely different. Kids are thrown together Lord of the Flies-style even younger then ever. Advertisers spend billions of dollars in order to turn tots into pint-sized decision makers. Google knows more then any parent could possibly fathom. Hell, if you watch Nickelodeon or YTV for a few hours, you'll even start to realize that every person over the age of thirty is either a buffoon, a weirdo or an irrational authority figure that begs for a comeuppance. Indeed, those pesky adults really are the bane of iCarly's existence.
They say it takes a village to raise a kid. Well, what happens if the village is largely populated by assholes?
EPIC DOC Parents need to realize that corporations look at your l'il bundle of joy as nothing more then a larval-stage consumer.