Lately I have been inspired to go off into wild rants just from reading certain confounding and amazing (?) things in other people's blogs. Not incendiary, inflammatory kinds of things....just innocuous, ordinary every day matter-of-fact statements about their lives.
It is a given that my life has been very different from many of the bloggers who live in this wonderful cyberworld and that other so-called "real" world, but still, so many things that others seem to take for granted as incontrovertible truths are .....well.....baffling and unacceptable to me as such.
Granted, one reason for this is undoubtedly the fact that I chose not to have children....not the two legged kind anyway. I can not contradict anyone who says, "Easy for you to say such and such....you have no kids so you don;t know". I agree completely and in one way I am almost ashamed to be expressing publicly some of the thoughts which will slop over onto you if you choose to continue messing up your minds and your nice clean clothes with my wild ramblings.
I quote below an excerpt from a blog whose writer I admire and adore. Singling this phrase out in this way is not meant to be nasty or any kind of punishment and I will not identify my source because the idea expressed is universal....it could be from any one of you out there. I chose it because it represents perfectly one of the gazillion things I don't understand in this world.
"I cooked a delicious ........for dinner tonight. Well... when I say delicious I mean delicious to me. My boys picked their way through it in the way only children can. I had chopped squeezed and blended herbs, lemon zest and juice to within an inch of oblivion. The chicken was covered in a zingy marinade and still they pondered it in the same way you and I might ponder road kill."
When and under what strange circumstance did children from the ages of 1 to about 16 (or 28) receive the right to start making the rules about everything? I find it intolerable enough that my television fare is created to suit the taste and whims of that underdeveloped sub- adult group and foisted upon me to eat whether I like it or not.........(and sadly, eat it I often do if I cannot find anything better on the tube to distract me.) I will not expand this theme to include all the other areas of life in which these children are dictating the form, the taste and the sound of everything. If I got started I would probably still be here feebly tapping or with gnarled fingers poised on the keys at the moment they come to take me off to the boneyard.
What I need to know and beg all of you out there who have the answers to tell me.......do parents and adults have no power whatsoever anymore? Are parents nothing more than willing and eager providers and subservient slaves to their offspring from birth until the little darlings move out, start their own lives and dump the grandchildren on the old folks to be babysat? Is there no weapon in a parent's arsenal that will cause even a modicum of the fear of retribution in a child these days? That is the word I wish to blog about....FEAR.
I ask in all seriousness and humility, ......What the fuck is going on? What in the hell is wrong with raising a child to fear a certain punishment under certain circumstances and thereby to avoid bad behavior and aggravating their parents beyond the bounds of sanity? It is not as if fear is an unknown quantity to the young....they fear all sorts of rational and irrational things like not having the newest $120 jogging shoes or not having the latest iphone gadget or, worse yet, not getting invited to the prom. But fear of punishment for misbehaving seems to be an absolute No-No.
I know that 99% of you out there are either laughing your asses off at me or girding your loins and donning your armor and weapons for attack, but I think I can safely say without fear that, at no time before in recorded history did the children run things like they do today. I know that within my blessedly long lifetime there has never been a time before where parents apparently had no means of exerting parental control over something as simple as what food their children would or would not eat. (Oh, I am not talking about a single phobic resistance to brussels sprouts here.....everyone should be allowed some food fetishes....I, for instance, have about 4 foods on a list that I will not willingly eat.....brains, tripe, cooked or chocolate covered insects and slimy okra........oh yes, and I think I would not want to eat haggis which I understand is a stuffed sheep's belly, but it is years since I have been offered or have had to hurt anyone's feelings by refusing any of the above.)
When I was a child back in the dark ages I (and all of the children I knew, encountered briefly or read about in books) were always in fear of certain dire punishment, rarely imposed, but always hovering there behind the drapes, keeping me from pushing my plate of lovely meat and vegetables rudely away and demanding pizza. By enduring this cruel and dreadful inhuman and inhumane treatment I managed to grow up adoring food in all its myriad forms and literally never fearing to try something new or even outlandish. Without that fear I acquired a WorldBook Encyclopedia of possible dishes to delight my palate....so tell me, .is that so terrible?
We seem to be a people who fear to instill any respectful,sensible fear of any kind into our children, not even for their own good. (Thank heaven we are still allowed to teach them to fear the hot stove and running with scissors.) And yet as adults we are riddled with a million identifiable and nameless fears. Let us look at only one example...........the fears generated by most of the established Religions. The fear of punishment by God (our Father, by the way) permeates every morsel of all the Religions (except, perhaps, Zen Buddhism) Most of us live in fear of some kind of hell and its endless horrible torments. We behave in a more or less civilized way because our Religions have strict rules and punishments for disobeying which are frightening enough to keep us somewhat in line. And, when we stray, the pain and torture of guilt self-punishes us far beyond the extent of the crime or the sin. And still we worship the Father (and the Mother) who impose these rules and this pain and fear upon us. Go figure.
By living within these constraints of our fears, most of humanity behaves fairly decently at least part of the time, has managed to accomplish some great and good deeds and has not yet succeeded in destroying everything God has created. So if it is good enough for us as adults, please tell me why isn't it good enough for our children?
The New Yorker covers: August 18, 1975
13 hours ago