I’ve never really liked post-apocalyptic movies.
You know the ones, where the world is shit, whether by circumstance or calamity, and everyone left is fighting for survival and scrounging for sustenance. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome‘s dry, desert dystopia just depresses me (although I definitely enjoyed Fury Road). Everyone is so dirty! It looks miserable. One of the reasons people prefer The Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars is because for once, Tattoine isn’t involved.
The good news is I’m almost 40; the odds of having to experience such a hellscape in real life dwindle with every birthday I have. The bad news is that with every birthday he has, my son may actually be getting closer to experiencing such a life.
Thankfully, I don’t really care.
In the context of parenting, the state of the world can often become worrisome (it can be worrisome whether you’re a parent or not, but once your little mini-mes are around, your fears tend to multiply). Mom and Buried dwells on this stuff a bit – occasionally, the chaos and violence of the world-at-large overwhelm her, especially when our son’s safety is taken into account.
It doesn’t bother me. I don’t care about my son’s future.
I care about the day-to-day of my life and my family’s life, and I care about the effect my choices and decisions will have on our comfort level and on our next fifteen or twenty years under the same roof, and I care about Detective Munch’s ability to eventually be independent, as well as my ability to eventually be retired. But when it comes to the state of the external world he’s going to end up living in? Whatever. I don’t fear the future; I won’t even live in it!
I’ll be gone for most of his adult life (and even if I’m around it’s all heroin all the time as soon as I hit 75), so what do I care what he has to deal with? He’ll have to fend for himself, and hopefully whatever skills (or lackthereof) or values or money or taste in pop culture that I’m able to pass down to him will be of some assistance. Otherwise, godspeed.
The fact is it’s all unknowable, not only what the future will be like and if our kids will be equipped to handle it, but how my son is going to do in third grade English and if he’s going to want a tattoo one day. The sheer amount of potential challenges and conflicts and crossroads he’s going to face over the next sixty years of his life is so vast, trying to anticipate any of them, let alone worrying about how to conquer them, is insanity.
The world has a lot of issues, and I don’t want things to get worse, but let’s be honest: the next ten, twenty, fifty years are unlikely to see Earth develop into a utopia. When my son is an adult, there are going to be big scary problems, some of which will be extensions of current ones (environmental issues, terrorism, the Kardashians), some of which will be heretofore unimagined (like The Evil Turtle Uprising of 2072 or the Year the Jets Finally Won). But I can’t worry about those. I can only worry about raising Detective Munch to be the kind of person who can survive, and maybe solve (assuming he’s less selfish than his dad), some of the era-specific conflicts he’ll exist among.
I have pretty good genes, so hopefully I’ll be around to reap the benefits of what is obviously some stellar child-raising we’re doing, and I’ll be able to see my son win a Nobel Prize or broker peace with the leader of the Evil Turtles or whatever (again, so long as it’s before 75 because HEROIN). But that payoff likely won’t come for decades; parenting doesn’t do instant gratification. I’m 38 and my parents still aren’t sure how I’m gonna turn out. We can only try our best and worry about the stuff that’s actually even slightly in our control.
There is already so much micro-level nonsense to worry about as a parent on a daily basis that I refuse to let the enormous stuff keep me up at night. I doubt the problems of my son’s world will be all that different from ours; the specifics may change but the themes likely won’t. And it will be his turn to weather them as best he can.
So good luck, son! I hope the zombie apocalypse is something only your children will have to worry about!