At my current job, my daily life consists of witnessing a raw, uncensored existence that I struggle to remember at all in myself. Children are honest about their feelings, unbelievably expressive and incredibly innocent. Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’re of the same species.
But we are. They’re human. They’re easy to tarnish, simple to spoil. Many will grow up to be confused, mean, filled with hate, punctured with the holes that represent the places they were influenced and unknowingly neglected and emotionally unfulfilled. There are a number of ways we assist these transformations, take little people who believe in magic and craft miserable adults who believe in business. We mold their perspectives as easily as soft clay, leaving them to rejoice the pretty and the rich over the healthy and the happy.
Let’s do it. Let’s corrupt our children. Let’s make them insecure, judgmental and brain dead. Let’s make them believe, above all else, in the power of things. We’ve been doing it for years.
Let’s scold them when they emerge in layers of mismatched articles, when pigtails sprout in all directions and makeup covers their faces. Tell them to change, that they look ridiculous. Reinforce, over and over again, that their view of beautiful is the wrong one. Their love of a particular shirt is misguided. Wrinkles are a sin. Shove them into outfits that fit a palette, not a personality. Coat them in chemicals, hairspray keeping them stiff. Punish them when they soil their clothes. Heaven forbid they stain a garment.
Let’s trade their neon pants for something more traditional, more mainstream, more socially acceptable. Steer them into the perfumed /poisoned air of Abercrombie & Fitch, the epitome of business built on reform and praise for the skinny. That’s what we want for our kids: to be thin and stylish. See the model that stands at the door? The people plastered around the store with impeccable facial symmetry and <1% body fat? Our kids need to be reminded of the ideal (and how they’re not it).
Let’s purchase unnecessarily large houses and work long hours in order to pay for them. We’ll fill them with expensive things we won’t have time to enjoy. It’s the opinions of other adults that drive our actions, anyway, and the other parents are sure to envy our property. So we’ll gush about them, emphasize the importance of our expensive leather couch. We’ll hire nannies, one after another, to handle the kids while we work to afford the bathroom renovations, the untouched grand piano.
Let’s buy them every little thing they want. We’ll fill their rooms with Barbies, a hefty collection of LEGO sets and stacks upon stacks of DVDs. They’ll need a DVD player and television for the DVDs and a pretty toy chest to hold the Barbies. We’ll show them how much we love them; they’ll be reminded every time we pass them a gift bag. We won’t have much time or energy to spend with them, so we’ll love them in our own way – the way of stuff. We’ll teach them that love can take many forms, but materialistic things are most effective in filling emotional voids.
Let’s refuse to showcase their artwork in our match-the-magazine homes. We’ll choose instead to display professional pieces, blank refrigerators, walls to be kept clean. Praise traditional elegance, a concept in which children have no place. Our homes will be much more stylish without childish adornments, after all. It would be a damn shame to disturb the flow of expensive décor with a finger painting in primary colors. File away the children’s work, keep it somewhere hidden and out of the way.
Let’s give them plenty of screens, lots of mindless things to do, so they’re not bothersome in the slightest. So they’re never bored. Keep the television rolling. We’ll introduce them to Kim Kardashian, the very best person to show our daughters how very well sex sells. Cheers to getting them addicted to the shows, the games, the ability to completely zone out. It’s much easier than actually interacting with them.
Let’s nitpick about calories, hammering weight obsessions into their young pliable minds. We’ll have them reading labels, viewing food as enemy #1, in no time at all. Why shouldn’t they? Our view is their view. We’ll regret eating, they’ll regret eating. But that’s ok. There’s nothing – absolutely nothing – more important than looking good and being lean. Kids need to know. We’ll bemoan every bite and shame the fat on the street. Teach them early.
Let’s badmouth the stranger’s flaming red hair, dyed and ablaze. We’ll trash talk the neighbor’s embarrassingly old 1984 Toyota and the fact that other parents allow their kids to read this, watch that. Those people are stupid; they hold less value than us. They’re weird, poor or going about life in all the wrong ways. We’ll teach them that different is inherently bad. One perspective, our perspective, is enough. Discourage questions. Encourage criticism. Those not viewing the world from our lens – well, they deserve to be criticized, tormented, and shamed.
Let’s corrupt our children. We’ve been doing it for years.