This Is Why Children Are All Quivering Little Fear-Muffins
When I was in NYC, I walked past a mother dragging a child out of one storefront and into another.
The girl said, “It’s cold!” Not an unreasonable reaction to the assault of frosted air. It being winter and all.
The mother responded by saying, “This is why I told you to wear your damn gloves! You don’t wear your gloves, your fingers are gonna catch frostbite, and then they’re gonna turn blue and fall off.”
Not unpredictably, the girl started wailing — just as she was drawn bodily into another store.
A week before that, I was in Target. Buying milk or some shit. A young mother, maybe in her mid-20s, was in the milk aisle with me, her four-year-old (I’m guessing), and some squirrelly meth-looking father.
The girl was having a total fucking blast in the store. She was traipsing about and pirouetting and running to the end of the aisle before running back like someone had just passed her a baton. It was cute. She wasn’t in my way or doing anything you wouldn’t expect a four-year-old to do.
As she ran to one end of the next aisle, though, her mother went nuclear.
“Jasmine!” she hissed. Then she started yelling: “Jasmine! JAS-MINE. You’re going to get STOLEN. By a STRANGE MAN. And then who knows what?”
This little girl, unlike the gloveless girl from the previous example, was obviously underwhelmed by this news because she just stomped on back, still laughing and stinging her tra-la-la song. But me, I was completely floored — first, did she mean me? Am I the strange man who is going to steal her daughter? Hello, rude. Second, the girl is literally within sight. Child predators, rare as they are, are not fucking pterodactyls. They do not swoop from veiled shadow to drag children back to their dinosaur nests. Third, is this how you exert control over your kid? Seriously? Listen, I get not wanting to be one of those wussy bargaining parents. But is the only other solution to cast upon them a horrendous adult fear of being snatched away by some kind of department store boogeyman?
It continued. The girl then did as Moonbat Mother asked, and stayed by the cart, and clung to the side of it like some kind of spider monkey. This lead the mother into another paroxysm of rage: “Jasmine! Jasmine. JAS-MINE! Get your goddamn fingers out of there or they’re going to break off! And then you’ll be sorry!”
Well, holy shit, yes, I guess she will be. And what is it with kids and their fingers? Frostbite? Broken off? Man. Kids are going to grow up terrified of everything, I thought. But then I realized: they already do.
I was scared of all kinds of nonsense when I was a kid. Before the age of ten I already knew to be afraid of a) nuclear war b) child predators and c) germs. And I don’t mean like, a healthy fear, but like, a mind-numbing, can’t-sleep-because-nuclear-AIDS-rapist-will-get-me. Christ, I’m still a hypochondriac.
It’s like, I dunno, parents see the wide-eyed wonders of children and want to squash that beautiful butterfly under a boot made of (frankly imagined) fears. Or maybe it’s just revenge. “You were a colicky little shit, and I didn’t get any sleep for the first two years of your life. Now it’s your turn — beware the elves that will try to steal your ears! You little bastard.”
If you want to give kids a Christmas present, try to tell them that they don’t need to be as afraid as the big bad adults want them to be. Just because we’re fear-sodden doesn’t mean they should be, too. Jeez.