Monday, November 29, 2004

Count how many things are wrong here

This morning, for no raisin at all, I found myself remembering a lesson I learned at age six. My father and I were in our barn (we lived on a farm in Kentucky with no crops or livestock - I still don't know why), and he noticed that one of our cats had taken a dump on the dirt floor. He shouted "That damned cat shit in the barn!" then threw an adult hissy fit (I still don't know why). I mimicked his words, which he found funny and he rushed me back to the house so I could repeat them to my mother. He laughed again; she gave us a stricken look but said nothing. The next day I got into an argument with a kid on the way home from school (note - in that rural area, we had K-12 in the same building and on the same bus), and HE (not ME) started using the dreaded "S" word (he actually called me Shitass - I still don't know why). So I repeated his words, and he repeated mine, and so forth until my sister (always looking to get me in trouble since it took the heat off her) and some of her friends came around, asked what I had said, and then went into hysterics, doing their best imitation of their collective parents by repeatedly telling me how they were so disappointed in me for the long ride home. Upon arrival, my sister sprinted from the bus and had completely tattled on me before I could get inside and begin damage control. My mother started dishing out the beatings (along with a generous helping of screaming fits), then turned me over to my father when he came home. He took me outside and silently whipped me with his belt, then turned me back over to my mother. She spent the next three days screaming at/hitting me everytime we had to spend time together, which she decided was going to be a lot.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining or trying to blame any current predicaments on that day. In fact, I view this as a funny childhood memory. The funniest part came when, a few days later, my father took me with him somewhere. I remember him standing around talking with his friends, a-la King of the Hill, when the subject turned to parenting. He talked about how my mother took days to punish me when I did something wrong, then proudly announced the he only whipped me for cursing and didn't bring it up again. Go dad! Your medal is in the mail.

Anyway, I learned a valuable lesson that day(s) - don't look to adults for guidance. They're not any smarter than anyone else, they're just big enough to get away with being moronic assholes.

To end this post on a positive note, let me offer a bit of advice for any current and would-be parents: if you don't want your child to engage in a certain behavior, don't demonstrate the behavior in front of him, laugh or complement him when he imitates you, reward him with other positive reinforcement, then suddenly FREAK OUT when he does it again. You don't need a PhD to figure that out, you just have to be minimally observant and apply a modicum of common sense. Sadly, this is not the case with much parenting. The kiddies are slaves to the parents who are expected to respond with kindness and good judgment despite generations of proof of the opposite, and yet if you set these adult delinquents on fire, society expects you to pay for that*.

I still don't know why.

* end positive note.

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