Now that we’ve all agreed that kids aren’t funny, let’s get to the real issue: We need to stop laughing at them.
Or we’re all gonna be in big trouble.
Most little kids are super cute. They aren’t funny, but they say funny things and they do amusing things. Almost always unintentionally, at least at first.
They’re like the Three Stooges; it’s hilarious to see them hurt themselves as they stumble through childhood. Their ability to shrug those stumbles off – to keep smiling through their next inevitable face-smash – is one of the things that make them so adorable.
Until you realize the endgame.
This is all an evolutionary ploy to help get both you and your children through the first several years of your relationship, to fool you into loving your kid unconditionally, to store up reserves of good will that can withstand the decades of hell that come once he gets older. This is genius-level stuff, put in place by Mother Nature, to ensure that children survive long enough – via biology and deception – to become self-aware and, eventually, self-actualized.
It’s like one of my favorite all-time movies, (the original) The Manchurian Candidate. Not even the toddler himself knows what he’ll become when the flip is switched, but in order to make it possible for him to control his own future, he must convince everyone else that he’s the the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being they’ve ever known in their lives. Early childhood is their only chance to lay this groundwork, since parents haven’t seen but the tip of the iceberg of their child’s potential for infuriating behavior and are more than willing to believe the lie. Which only increases the danger.
The trick is to see through the facade. To get out a stack of Queen of Diamonds (see the movie, please) and nip it in the bud ASAP. There’s no way to prevent the oncoming hell of his older years, but via some good parenting and a commitment to only letting him see the best movies, you can hopefully make it a little less hellish. You can have one of the good ones. But the first step in making this happen is harder than it sounds: stop laughing at your kid!
As the father of a (nearly) two-year-old, I know both how hard it is NOT to laugh at your kid when he does something absurd, and how detrimental it can be to encourage him by being unable to stifle a giggle. These kids thrive on attention and approval, and obviously, as their loving parent, you want to give it to them, but you can’t give it all the time, and you should never give it at the wrong time. Laughing at your kids is particularly detrimental when you’re trying to discipline them. Nothing undermines an attempt at laying down the law more than a stray chuckle while you’re trying to be stern and authoritative.
Take the recent video of that little Palin kid calling his aunt “fagg*t” and drawing chuckles from his own mother.
I’m no parenting expert (as we’ve discussed, there’s no such thing), but I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that encouraging your kid when he says the darndest hate speech is not a good idea.
Let’s be honest: the odds are stacked against this kid already. But it doesn’t matter who his mother is, with that kind of parenting, he’s not gonna turn out so great. At least not until someone pops him in the jaw while he’s walking into Chick-Fil-A.
If you show kids even the slightest sign of encouraging their goofiest, stupidest, worst behavior, they’re sure to repeat it, ad nauseam. You’ve signaled that you enjoyed it (and in this case you’ve signaled that the word “fagg*t” is okay), and since they live for your approval, they’re going to do whatever they can to get it again, the best way they know how.
They’re like raccoons; give them a nibble one morning and soon they’re raiding your garbage cans every night!
As parents, we must band together. We must still love our kids, we must still encourage them, we must still laugh with them; but we must be aware of what is coming, that they won’t be cute and harmless forever, and we must be careful not to indulge their worst behavior. And we must do it together.
Because the only thing worse than a household overrun by raccoons is an entire society full, strewing garbage everywhere, with no one left to stop them.