The only thing worse than an egotistical person is one who’s also dumb (well, serial killers are pretty bad too I guess). It’s a special brand of dumb, the kind of self-assured idiocy that cannot be deviated from its path, the perfect storm of personality flaws. It’s where ideas like homeopathic medicine and bodybuilding come from. And this is why I don’t particularly want children. Children are predominantly self-centered little idiots, and the fact that their brains are undeveloped or that they haven’t yet gleaned enough information from the world or haven’t had enough experiences makes no difference to me — they are what they are. I know this because I remember being a child, the dumbest most egotistical child imaginable.
Part of what contributed to my childhood worldview was a certain veneration of children in the media that continues to this day. According to most movies, children are smarter, wiser, and more moral than grownups, and thus, we have movies like Real Steel and Matilda. But the truth is children are the exact opposite of this portrayal. Children are dumb. They are so dumb. They are the dumbest. To test this, try telling a small child he/she makes you feel “sepulchral” or “lugubrious.” I guarantee he/she won’t understand because he/she doesn’t know how to read, and therefore hasn’t acquired any SAT words. Ask them to calculate the hypotenuse of a right triangle — actually, don’t bother because I’ll just tell you: they can’t do it. As for morality, recently on a street corner, I saw a child, maybe six years old, look up at his mother and say, “Why don’t you shut the hell up, you fat bitch.” Then there’s the time a fellow Thought Catalog writer was relieved of her iPhone by a pack of morally bankrupt street children. How do we allow these tiny sociopaths to scurry through our cities, uncaged, unleashed, unsupervised? Why don’t we just empty out the prisons and asylums while we’re at it.
I was principally raised by television and poorly paid daycare professionals. Make no mistake: daycares are nuthouses for the mentally undeveloped human spawn. You play board games, do crafts, and you’re not allowed any sharp objects. And, for a place with “care” in the name, it’s an institution bereft of it. You have a staff of poorly paid women who are, in fact, so poorly paid — and this is just my personal theory, mind you — they can’t afford healthy food, so they’re overweight. These women resent the fact that they perform an incredibly difficult and stressful job for so little pay, so they’re also perpetually irate. Now add children. A bunch of gigantic furious women dealing with tiny idiot children at the most impressionable time in their lives. That was my daycare experience.
One day at the daycare, I brought my entire collection of Goosebumps books along with fake spiders, graveyard stickers, skull keychain, and other creepy paraphernalia, and I laid it all out on a table. Then I sat down at the table, as if I were street vendor.
Other children passed by: “Are you selling this stuff?”
The teachers were confused: why did he bring all these books, lay them out on a table, and then sit there for several hours? I will tell you why: it’s because I wanted to show off all my books. I thought, “People will see all these Goosebumps books, and they will say, ‘That boy has way more Goosebumps books than me. He must be super cool.’ They will be in awe of my ability to accumulate young adult paperback horror.” I wanted to communicate how great I was. They needed to know that I was the most special, the most interesting person. I was maybe eight years old.
Another time, I posted a signup sheet on the classroom wall: “drawing contest today after lunch.” Surprisingly, a dozen or so children showed up to participate at a table reserved specifically for the event. I handed out paper, pencils, crayons, and markers. Then I set a timer for 30 minutes, and my classmates set to working furiously. There were no prizes, only the pride of first, second, and third place written on the winning drawings in red crayon. After I finished my drawing, I circled the table, examining everyone else’s work with the thoughtful objectivity of a young Jerry Saltz (did I mention I was judging as well as participating in the contest?). When the timer beeped, I theatrically deliberated over each drawing. To one kid, who I happened to like, I awarded third place. Next, to the most talented artist, in the interest of fairness, I awarded second place. And to me, of course, I awarded first place, grand prize, ultimate best coolest human being.
“But Matt did the best drawing!” said an impudent peasant. “He should get first place! Look at the detail on that Millennium Falcon!”
“I can only make decisions based on what I personally believe constitutes the best drawing.”
“But you’re the judge! It’s not fair!”
Now that my impartiality as a judge was thrown into question, the other children balked. They all shouted, “It’s not fair!” and “You can’t give yourself first place!” and “That drawing’s not even good!” Amidst the clamoring of the squalid masses, I quietly slipped away Quaddaffi style to wait it out. How could they not understand it didn’t matter who drew the best; I was the best. How could anyone who was not me, who did not live inside my skin, who only served as an extra in the epic movie of my life — how could one of these others be the best.
Birthday parties are especially difficult for the idiot sociopath because they require the exaltation of another child, giving rather than taking, supporting rather than starring. There are always a few children who have extra trouble with this concept. Goodie bags exist because if you force a child accustomed to receiving all the toys to watch another child receive all the toys, even for just fifteen minutes, the cognitive dissonance will propel him into a mad avaricious fit.
I remember at one kid’s birthday pool party, he received a toy plane I wanted, so I started bawling. How could the universe embrace someone other than me? Oh, the indescribable horror of a world in which I cannot have what I want when I want it how I want it! The shocking deprivation! Almost immediately, my dad whisked me from the party to a nearby Toys R’ Us where he purchased the exact same toy to fill the void in my black soul (the parenting decisions here seem flawed I think). Standing there in line, my long gestating superego sparked to life. Even I knew this was wrong, that I shouldn’t be getting a toy right now, that I should actually be punished for behaving like Montana Max in a real world setting. I felt disturbed by the whole situation, with myself most of all. The phrase “spoiled brat” floated unspoken in the air. It was possibly the first time I took the time to examine myself, and I didn’t like what I saw, but, to be clear, I didn’t let it stop me from getting the toy I wanted.
So no, I don’t want to have a child. I remember how I was as a child, and the genetic material to recreate him flows through my veins like a ticking bomb. I don’t want to have to pretend to love a selfish little asshole. There’s only room in my life for one of those, and that’s me.