Here at No Strike That we believe that children should neither be seen nor heard, because we’ve got a box of wine that isn’t going to drink itself.
Without question, the best place for children is
grandma’s house boarding school. Unfortunately, although I am very well endowed in many places (ahem, I drive a Mini Cooper), I come up a little short where it really matters– in the wallet. Since blogging isn’t paying much these days I have to settle for telling them to bugger off go away.
Too much of a good thing
Some time in between Roosevelt and Reagan (I can’t place precisely when it happened) parents decided it was important that they spend Quality Time with their kids. Lead their children in play. Mold their minds. Get involved!
This turned out to be a horrible idea.
Article after article makes the case that over-involvement in the lives of our children deeply and profoundly injures them up for a very long time. My
completely unscientific theory that validates my own awesomeness is that we confused us with them.
Us vs. Them
Ever since the Rhesus Monkey Experiments, as a culture we have been trying to be the cuddly monkey all the time. We have succeeded beyond our wildest imaginings, and in doing so a generation of parents have completely gimped a generation of children.
I am personally ecstatic, because while my kids are handicapped by my unfortunate DNA I can raise some lean mean machines who will eat lesser children for breakfast as they hunt each other down Hunger Games-style for minimum wage McJobs.
They’ve gotten to be this way because I’ve done my best to ignore them. On purpose.
As adults, we have figured out most of the necessary elements of life. For example, I am a master at:
- Transporting food into my mouth with over 99% accuracy (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)
- Sitting in a chair without falling out of it (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)
- Not pooping myself (assuming alcohol isn’t involved)
You know who’s not good at these things? My kids. The oldest, who’s 11, still occasionally, and for no apparent reason, falls out of his chair. I thought it might be an inner ear thing at first, but no… he’s just 11. According to his teachers, this is quite common for kids his age.
It makes no sense to me. Even though I was (at least on paper) a child at some point the “Why” of so much of what my kids do escapes me. I need peace, quiet, and my box of wine. My kids need to be loud, rowdy, and strapped in to their chairs at dinner because I SWEAR ON THE HOLY BIBLE IF YOU TOUCH YOUR SISTER ONE MORE TIME YOU’RE EATING BY YOURSELF IN YOUR ROOM. Ahem.
The best God is an absent God
Consider this scenario. It’s Monday, you’re late for an important appointment. You’re stuck in traffic and you mutter a prayer. A screenplay breaks out.
“Please, oh Lord, let me make it on time, because rescheduling this one will be a real bear.”
Suddenly, the Lord Almighty is in the passenger seat.
OF COURSE, MY CHILD. LET ME PART THE TRAFFIC.
“My God is an Awesome God!”
You make it to your appointment on time, and then you come back and the Lord Almighty is still sitting in the car.
“Hey God, what are we going to do this afternoon?”
WHATEVER YOU WANT.
“Yay! Let’s eat fried chicken and get really fat!”
SOUNDS GOOD TO ME.
6 months later…
[You’re 50 pounds overweight with Type 2 diabetes and God is still here.]
“Hey God, this has been fun and all… but when are you going to leave?”
WHEN YOU ARE LEADING A HAPPY AND PRODUCTIVE LIFE, OF COURSE.
“Oh… thanks God. I guess. Can I have some more fried chicken?”
OF COURSE, MY CHILD.
10 years later…
[Scene: Therapist’s office. There is a sea-foam green couch, which you and Him are sitting upon. The Therapist is sitting in a worn brown swivel chair. The rhododendron needs watering.]
Therapist: “This is a safe place. We can all feel free to express ourselves here. Why don’t You go first, O Lord?”
ALL I EVER WANTED WAS FOR MY CHILD TO BE HAPPY. NOT SIN. LIVE FOREVER. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?
You: *weeps silently*
[fade to black]
The key to a successful human existence is that we have to believe we have choices. Free will. Deny our children the opportunity to make meaningful choices and all that we leave them is meaningless choices.
Nikes or Sketchers?
Applebees or Red Robin?
For so much of our children’s lives, we are their God. We control when they rise, when they sleep. What they eat, what they wear. I can fix anything and my wife’s kiss can heal all injuries, at least according to all of my kids at a young age. The temptation to never stop, though, can be overpowering. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
We never allow free will.
The truth, the real Truth, is that freedom is horrible, because when you are truly free you are truly responsible.
We can’t blame anyone else for our miserable lives, because it’s our miserable life.
Yet at the same time, when we triumph, it’s ours. When we master ourselves, it is ours. When we are redeemed, it’s because we had the strength all along.
Happiness is autonomy. While we all want a nice soft mommy monkey to cuddle, we still all want to be able to go off into the world and screw up as we see fit. So when you see me at the playground, and I’m looking at my phone, feel free to raise an eyebrow, but don’t help my kid on the jungle gym. I’m mostly ignoring him mostly on purpose.
Deprive your children of autonomy and you deprive them of happiness.
It’s really that simple.
Shout out to my visitors from cameforthebargains.com! Who I understand are a lot like the mafia, but with sippy cups. And vodka.