Monday, January 25, 2010
In defense of bullies.
(okay, I don't necessarily mean the literal bullies who trade in the currency of wedgies and stolen lunch money, but who can pass up an opportunity for a Nelson "Ha ha"?)
Since about the mid 90s or so, in an effort to not offend the delicate sensibilities of anyone, we've become this kitten-soft society that tiptoes around on eggshells. We tell people that their quirks and eccentricities are neither quirks nor eccentricities, but what makes them special and unique.
On the one hand, it's true - your dysfunctions are what make you different from everyone else, they are what set you apart and what make you who you are, but that's a check you need to cash on your own.
You need to go through school and get picked on for being the fat kid or the smelly kid or the kid with thick glasses or the kid who wears thrift store clothes or the kid whose parents cut his hair or the kid who runs around singing Madonna songs or the kid who's allergic to grass.
You need to get your ass kicked, you need to get your heart broken and you need to be mercilessly mocked for making stupid decisions - that's how your jagged edges get worn down and you turn into a moderately worthwhile human being. That's how you get a personality, how you acquire character, how you learn not to make stupid-ass mistakes.
But as we become a more "accepting" society, teaching children that there are no losers, teaching children that everyone gets a trophy, teaching children that their dysfunctions are totally cool, encouraging everyone to fly that freak flag as high as they can, we're really doing them a disservice.
In "real life", there are winners and losers, that's why you practice and try to get good at something, that's how you earn a sense of pride, by lording your dominance over people who aren't as good.
In "real life" sometimes you win and it's great, but sometimes you lose and, guess what, life doesn't scoop you up in a warm hug and hand you a consolation prize and some hot cocoa.
Anyone who's watched more than two minutes of American Idol auditions knows exactly what I'm talking about - that parade of delusional freaks who have been coddled their entire lives, wrapped in a safety cocoon of "it's okay, have another cupcake" are suddenly thrust in front of television cameras and subjected to a very public humiliation that they could have otherwise been spared had ANYONE in their life cared enough to say "oh, honey, no" just once or twice. Yes, it will hurt for a minute when your mom tells you that "maybe singing isn't your forte", but I would take that over having the general public being able to watch my indignity over and over and over on YouTube.
The cold, hard, truth of the universe is that not everyone gets to be the prom queen and not everyone grows up to see every single dream fulfilled - some people don't even go to the prom and some people end up cleaning toilets for a living.
As a parent, I want my kid to lose once in a while, I want him to be humbled and find out that sometimes... life sucks. Not because I'm a sadist, but because without being exposed to the suck, you don't get to fully appreciate the non-suck.
So you know what? You're kind of a freak, okay? Maybe you should try to rein it in a little, for the rest of us.
Labels: adventures in shitty parenting