2/27/2012

When I am King: No Kidding

When I am King...

Children will earn their keep.

Some spiders kill themselves and each other to feed their young. Those parents have it so easy.

Scientists believe that these spiders sacrifice themselves for the nutrition of their offspring. Parents know better: these cowards have simply foreseen their future and have opted out of it. They might as well get it all over with in one swift meal rather than suffer a lifetime of being an unwilling host to these little parasites.

Make no mistake: Children are parasites, from the moment of their conception to the overdue time of their hosts’ demise. Consider the evidence:

Pregnancy: This condition is an extended period of illness, ranging from mild discomfort to frequent nausea to outright pain. Were it anything but pregnancy, we’d see the doctor about that tumor and have it treated with everything from heavy drugs to amputation. But for some bizarre reason, we suffer it to grow and our condition to worsen, until the moment of:

Labor: Giving birth hurts. I have heard that there is pleasure in the process, but presumably only in the sense that it is pleasurable to reach the end of that infinite torture (or maybe the drugs are just that good). We could experience a similar pleasure sensation by just banging our head against the wall repeatedly, eventually stopping just short of killing ourselves. I'm sure that stopping would feel pretty darned good too, although at least with the head-banging procedure we wouldn’t than have the follow-up job of:

Newborn Care: This is the phase when the parasitic relationship is most evident: we must cater to every need, every whimper, every annoying, stainful mess that the little creature makes, all so that they stay alive long enough to reach:

Toddler: In this phase, the parenting job expands to encompass both making sure that the child doesn’t kill himself and minimizing the damage that he does everything else in his path. He is dangerous enough to do anything and dumb enough to try. A good parent will make it through this phase without killing themselves in frustration or killing the child in revenge, so that they can both make it to:

Childhood: Here, the job becomes more relaxed and the parasitic nature of the relationship more subtle. We believe that we enjoy their company, but this is only because they string us along so that they can get the necessary food, money, attention, and parental suffering that they need to grow up and become:

Pre-Teen: In this phase, we kid ourselves that the child has become independent and that we now have our lives back. Meanwhile, we spend all of our waking hours ferrying them hither and yon, in addition to the existing host chores of shoveling money, food, and energy in their general direction, waiting for the moment when they become:

Teenager: This is perhaps the most difficult phase for parents to make it through without jail time. On one hand, the child still needs the shelter, food, and money that the host provides. On the other hand, they now hate us. As parents, we revel in this new, independent spirit that the child has taken on, while somehow missing the galling part about them hating us while constantly taking our things. It’s like giving financial aid to terrorists. This makes us welcome the thought of:

College: Freedom is finally achieved for the host and the parasite, as the child goes off to college to spend unholy amounts of money learning how to drink. The host relationship is more distant yet more painful as the family goes deeper in debt so that the child might one day reach:

Graduation: At this point, the child has extracted every cent, present and future, from the family coffers in the hope that they can now be independent. Instead, they return to the family home and continue taking anything else left. When there is nothing more to the host but a desiccated shell, they may finally go off on their own and experience:

Adulthood: Finally, the child is on their own. They have a job, they may even have started a brood of their own parasites. But somehow, they still depend on the parents for attention and occasional sponsorship. Once a host, always a host, even when:

Old Age: The host is now worn out, a shadow of their former self, eaten up by life and the incessant needs of its parasitic children. In a nurturing society, this would be the time when roles would switch and the children would become the hosts for the parents. But the child now has parasites of its own and no time for its used-up parents. If the parents are lucky, the child will pause long enough to arrange to have them locked into a home where they can while away the rest of their time, alone with their memories and deep sense of regret, until finally:

Death: Rest finally comes to the host. For arachnids, this might be a family time, a time of togetherness when the children would return to the nest to to eat Dad. But the truth is that there is nothing left of a human parent by this time, just barely enough to tumble into the ground.

The host/parasite relationship of parenting does not end until death. So maybe the spiders have it right - just get it over with quickly and avoid the torturous years of intervening hassle.

Why do we do all of this? We may hit our heads on the wall by accident occasionally, but at least we have the sense to stop once we've done it. But parenting just goes on and on. So why do we suffer the agony and blind need of these parasites? It's all due to evolution: evolution is responsible for children being just cute enough that we don’t discard them as soon as we’re onto their devious ways.

But evolution has also provided us an out here. In parallel with babies figuring out our penchant for cuteness, we, as a species, have figured out how to obtain and eat more food than our bodies can process. This habit is making us into the torpid, obese beings that we are, where a "workout" is the time that we put in scraping our thighs past each other as we trudge down the snack aisle at Walmart. And as the good hosts that we are, we have provided this over-abundance of fattening foods not only to ourselves, but also to our parasitic progeny.

In essence, we’re making our kids fat.

And while some consider this filial fattening a bad thing, I think that this dynamic is simply evidence that parents are fighting back. Finally we’ve found a way to defend ourselves from the leeches: if we can feed them enough that they are no longer so darned cute, then maybe our brains will not be so inclined to let these freeloaders suck us dry. Maybe if they don’t have cuteness on their site, they’ll have to plead for their care on merit alone, figuring out other ways to get our precious attention and resources. Maybe they’ll actually have to earn their keep.

Some have made a modest proposal that we simply eat the children, which would dovetail nicely with our ability to fatten them up. However, I suspect that this idea was put forth merely in jest. After all, I don’t know of a single condiment that goes with human meat.

When I am King, we will look into a myriad of ways to make kids less attractive and therefore more desperate for our attention. Beyond the current use of calories and basically unhealthy living, we may also investigate the use of permanent markers for transient facial disfigurement, mandatory and regular head-shaving, body piercing and tattoos[done!], and the banning of all acne creams. Relationships with children will not be the one-way give-until-you’re-dead affairs of today, but will instead be strong bonds built upon mutual need and distrust, the foundations of all good families.
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