Child Rearin'

Published on February 24th, 2016 | by Richard Black

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It Takes a Village (You’re Welcome)

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It takes a village to raise a kid. Not this village though.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t really like kids. Don’t get me wrong I love my daughter and I even like her from time to time. I really couldn’t have hoped for a better child. Darcy is sweet and kind and curious. Most of all however I love Darcy because she is my daughter.

It’s the rest of the kids with whom I take issue. The fact is that there are many reason to dislike small children. They’re remarkably irritating for starters. If you don’t believe me then try to compell one to get dressed in under four hours. Children are also selfish and clingy, they’re riddled with disease, can’t contribute to the GDP and are willfully ignorant to a degree that would make St. Francis of Assisi kick babies* to mention just a few of their many flaws of both character and hygiene.

My dislike even goes beyond the theoretical. I don’t like children in a specific and personal way particularly on the playground or at a park. The odds are that if I ever see your kids in public I probably won’t like them. Please don’t take it personally. It’s not just your kids I’ve come to loathe over the years but all of them. Young girls can be fickle and cliquish and thoughtlessly exclusionist. Little boys are prone to rough play and have the attention span of spastic Labrador Retrievers. These are again just a few of my complaints.

Unfortunately as a stay at home father I’ve had to come to terms with my dislikes. Unless I’m willing to raise Darcy as a hermit, a thought I’ve considered, I’ve come to accept the fact that she’s going to have friends and that they’ll be underfoot from time to time. They are, after all, just kids. Ignorant, stupid self absorbed little kids and it’s not their fault.

There are no “bad” kids my daughter’s age. I volunteer quite often for my Darcy’s kindergarten class and I can attest to that fact. Little kids are like puppies. They’re cute and sweet and curious and generally harbor no one even the slightest bit of ill will. Unless of course when they do in which case I blame their parents.

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They’re all cute and adorable and then they come out of the womb.

I’m not an exemplary parent by any measure but I’m not a terrible one either. For better or worse our children’s behavior reflects upon our abilities as parents particularly when they’re young. They are a mirror of ourselves and if you’re boy or girl is a little fuckwit then I’m comfortable assuming that you are as well.

Certain children, those with mental conditions they’ve inherited through no fault of their own, are obviously exempt. I’m even willing to give kids in general a pass on bitchy or dickish behavior from time to time. Everyone has a bad day. Children misbehave. I get that.

It’s the ones who are willfully mean or consistently violent with whom I take issue. Instead of blaming the child however I’m enlightened enough to blame the kid’s parents.

A few months ago I was over a friend’s home. My daughter and a few boys were running around the neighborhood like a bunch of squirrels on amphetamines and I noticed that one boy, a few years older than my daughter, would consistently go out of his way to shove Darcy. I’m not sure what the game was but I was pretty sure that shoving wasn’t involved. I took a deep breath and gave Darcy a few times to solve the issue herself but she was oblivious and began running around the moment she popped back up and dusted herself off.

I, however, was incredibly aware of the boy’s behavior and the fourth or fifth time he gave Darcy a push I called him out.

“Hey,” I yelled to get his attention, “cut that shit out.”

The kid stopped, turned and then charged as he thrust his chest out and slammed into my ample stomach.

“You’re not my dad,” he shouted prompting me to calmly and methodically beat him senseless.

I’m kidding of course. I didn’t do anything of the sort.

“Your. Not. My. Dad,” the boy declared again.

“There’s really no way you can know that,” I replied. He gave me a confused and dullish look before running off to parts unknown where he would, presumably, pull the legs off of spiders or begin prepping for a career in the dentistry.

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I didn’t make this boy cry…probably.

I’m not overly proud of the way I handled the situation but I’m not apologetic either. In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have implied that I had slept with the boy’s mother and not just because I’m pretty sure I haven’t. The truth is that I have no idea whether of not the woman is a whore, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I’ve been happily and monogamously married for quite some time.

Scarcely ten minutes later the boy’s mother popped up. My buddy and I were having a beer in the backyard and, as a side note, it was then that I was pretty sure that we’d never had sex. I’m referring to the mother that is and not my friend. I’m pretty sure I’ve never known him in the biblical sense but then again my memory isn’t what it used to be.

I offered the boy’s mother a drink, she declined, and we made polite and awkward chit-chat for the next few minutes.

“You know boys play differently than girls,” she said in parting, “I’m a therapist and I study this sort of thing.”

“Perhaps you should study harder,” I said. I’m lying again. I didn’t say that. I wish I had. Instead I kept my big trap shut. Discretion I’ve learned, on occasion, is the better part of valor.

There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child and I’d never thoroughly understood it until that moment. When I was a stupid kid in the 1980s and setting fire to things in the middle of a rural road or running around a slippery pool deck any adult within eye or earshot was given carte blanche to call out my idiocy. In hindsight it was one of the few decent things about growing up in the 1980s.

Like it or not we live in a society in which certain norms exist and certain behaviors are expected. It’s not my job to raise everyone’s kid. I’m pretty sure that no one, particularly me, wants to take on that task. I will, however, never hesitate to intervene if a child is putting him or herself in danger and doubly so when the situation involves my daughter.

I’m not looking for a fruit basket or a commendation.  All I ask is that you consider doing the same so that in twenty years or so I don’t have to spend my golden years around a bunch of self absorbed little twits.

 

*This quote is taken from Douglas Adams and the Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy Series. I’m not sure which book but you should totally read all of them to let me know.

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