Now, I had some wackadoo folks whose ideas of parenting were a bit, er, 'unconventional' to put it kindly. Forced enemas as punishment. Being made to strip down to my underwear and breathe heavily while lifting weights as my father looked on disapprovingly. This weird diagram where all of my friends had to be my exact age or I couldn't be friends with them, unless they went to my church. There was some same strange stuff. But god damn, at least I got to go outside, ride bikes in nothing but short pants, play wherever I wanted until the streetlights came on, listen to whatever music I liked (okay, this one was a little strange in that I couldn't READ anything I liked without parental approval, but with music I had carte blanche)plus I had enough alone time to play with matches, make my own explosives, have furtive sex, fall out of trees, say no to proffered drugs, play Mystery Date with the neighbor girls, prove I was shitty at football, convince my friends that we should turn their garage into a spook house, get beaten up by bullies, win at kick the can, watch Night Gallery at a neighbor's house, have a sleepover in tents in some kid's backyard, and on and on.
So if you've read some of the stories I've told here you know that there were a lot of damned peculiar things going on inside the house. But, and here's the thing, I was allowed to have a life outside the house. And outside the house is where I learned that it's not a good idea to try and make a roller coaster out of an expandable wooden ladder stretching from the roof to the ground that you're going to ride down on a toy wagon. Outside the house is where I learned that a well-placed, funny, insult can keep the school bully from picking on you. Outside the house is where I learned, oh boy, not everything anyone tells you is absolutely true all the time.
And it's that last one, I bet, that gives parents the heebie-jeebies. The current term for this is 'helicopter parents': people so involved in their little precious children's lives that the child can't have a moment alone and the child is constantly monitored to make sure not a single, independent influence is thrusted upon them and not a single thought enters their brain not pre-approved by those who know best: Mommy and Daddy. Now yeah, it would be easy to pinpoint the Evangelical Fundies who homeschool and you'd probably be right, because like any cult, independent thought is the devil's Team Fortress 2. (So no video games allowed, either.)
But this culture of I'm-gonna-keep-my-kid-stuffed-up-my-cunt-like-a-goddamn-marsupial is so much more sickeningly widespread than the people bent out of shape over chicken sandwiches. A friend showed me a birthday party invitation his hippy-dippy girlfrend's kid had been sent. Attached to the bottom was this ominous warning: "Note: The party is Star Wars themed and foam weapons will be distributed. For those not wishing their children to be involved in this kind of violence, a 'No Play' area will be provided."
Oh yeah. I wanna be the kid in the 'No Play' area. Cause that's a goddamn party.
It's part of what it means to be a parent anymore, and it scares me shitless. Lady tried to sue the school board because her kid struck out at a baseball game--she felt he really ought to run around the bases and was pissed when he didn't. (Ain't making this one up; it actually happened.) Kids can't ride a bike without enough plastic and padding to look like Optimus Prime. Elmer Fudd's shotgun is being digitally erased.
I think I'm going to go with koo-koo parents who say the end the world is coming next week and here's the proof instead of this. I got off lucky.
And with this, I think I am going to close down Der Spookhaus at this address. Blogger is intent on ignoring formatting and fusing every paragraph into one giant blob of text. You can come back here to see the old stuff, if you want, but I think the time has come to move the site to somewhere else. Check back here for the link to the new place.
Soon as I get it figured out I'll let you know.