One point I’ve established again and again here is that I’m not, shall we say, “skilled” with children. I’ve never had a younger brother, nor have I got a child. The result is the expectation that everyone I interact with will be of a maturity greater than or equal to my own. This isn’t hard, since I still gleefully fart in public. That said, there are still those with enough disregard for their own children to subject them to me. Those situations seldom end well, but I’ve recently learned of an upside to such events.
I have a few family members in the childcare industry. I’m not talking about the stay-at-home moms I know, who bizarrely aren’t a part of the childcare industry. Maybe because they don’t have a union… Regardless, I mean daycare workers. They do all day what I’ve never done in my life: Make sure children don’t get killed. I used to think that that was their only job requirement, but it turns out parents expect more out of a daycare facility than the survival of their children. They want their kids to be enriched. It is good to know that working parents expect at least the same level of care for their children as zoo animals get. This sort of early life education used to come from a full time caregiver, either a parent, or more frequently, a television. When parents were doing the job, children tended to pick up the same specific ideals that had been taught to mom and dad. Once TV took on the job, ideals were of a slightly more media-based variety. Now we entrust our kids to other folks, and thus it is THEIR ideals that get passed on. And therein lies the hidden joy of interacting with children. Shaping their young, impressionable minds to suit your whims.
One way this can play out is if the daycare employees are a generation older than the parents. That means that the comparatively stale learnings of a bygone age are going to get a foothold in little Billy’s developing brain. When this happens, you are likely to see the quirky world views of old working their way back into circulation. You know how sometimes your grandparents can be what I like to call ‘old fashioned racist’? Not racist out of hate or spite or experience. The sort of racism where you cheerfully perpetuate a negative stereotype because you accept the ignorant lie or gross exaggeration as simple fact, and who are you to judge? Well keep your eyes peeled for a fresh round of tykes who adhere to some seriously antiquated racial attitudes. Also, I suspect there will be a sharp increase in the appreciation of big band music. See? It isn’t all bad. What I can’t wait for is the elderly rearing your kids on things like The Jack Benny Show and The Honeymooners, and before you know it your kids will be making references that you don’t get but grandma does. A circum-generational inside joke!
This shaping of young minds intrigues me. It is an opportunity to cherry-pick your own childhood of all of the best stuff and cram it into the heads of the next generation. Did you grow up on a steady diet of Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles? Then guess what Sally and Jake will be watching while their folks are at work? Stand by for the little ones to start spouting some totally radical lingo and platitudes meted out by a cartoon rat. Me? While I’m a man who loves his Spongebob, I’d hold off on it until the kids had had a firm grounding in the classics. I learned everything I need to know about wordplay from Monty Python and Bugs Bunny. I see no reason why the next round of boys and girls shouldn’t benefit from the same education. We wouldn’t want our precious youngsters to suffer from pronoun trouble, would we?
From now on, I resolve to take full advantage of my rare interactions with developing minds. I’m going to give them a few choice nuggets of my own education. Maybe the words to “I Love Beans” by the one and only Brak. Or perhaps a little film called Flash Gordon. I feel I owe it to them to fill in the parts of a lifetime of pop culture consumption that they may have missed out on. It is the least I can do. Plus it will quickly convince their parents not to leave them with Uncle Decoychunk.