Friday, October 03, 2008

Spare the Rod, Spoil the Demon

As a general rule of thumb, I am not fond of children. They're noisy and they're sticky and they break things, and you can't scream at them in public if you're not related to them. Or at least, you're not supposed to. Or at least, I'm not supposed to. Anymore.

Even back when I was allegedly a child myself, I wasn't fond of children. At slumber parties, all the other kids would infest the living room, playing video games or stabbing each other or whatever, and I'd be in the kitchen with their mothers, sipping coffee and discussing the PTA.

I refused to interact with my own brother until he could legally vote. Being twins, this made family dinners awkward.

The one notable exception to The Rule is Co-Witch A.'s son, Sean. He's only nine, but he comes across as an actual person, as opposed to the revolting little booger factories most 9-year-olds turn out to be. He's just sort of not entirely unacceptable. I have decreed he can stay.

I do worry about him, mainly because his parents are who they are--that is, Pagan folk revivalists who met while working at a Renaissance Festival. Don't get me wrong, they've raised him wonderfully, but it's going to be hell for him to stage any kind of effective teenage rebellion:

"Mom, I'm dropping out of school to join a band."

"How exciting! You know, your father dropped out of school to join a band, and that's how we ended up with a lovely home in this upper-middle-class neighborhood."

"Mom, I'm gay."

"You get that from my side of the family. I mean, your father says he's bi-curious, but at this point he needs to either put up or shut up."

"Mom, I got my tongue pierced."
[read: "Mawem, ah gawth mah tawng pee-athed."]

"A Prince Albert would have been more cost-effective. Ask your father about his."

Now, the problem with worrying about a child--even one you didn't build yourself--is that it's very easy to get overprotective. This, coupled with my tendency to perceive Sean as a miniature adult, means that I've developed a bad habit of saying inappropriate things to him, which could possibly be construed as counter-intuitive to Co-Witch A.'s parenting style.

And be it known that I am not, as some have implied, trying to turn Sean into my personal pet sociopath. I just don't spend a lot of time around 9-year-olds, much less likable ones. I forget that nurturing the Darkness within them is generally considered verboten.

I was over at Co-Witch A.'s house a few months back, relaxing on her back porch during a break in our standard weekend activities (talk about Witchcraft, practice some Witchcraft, watch a cheesy, b-rated horror movie about Witchcraft). Sean wandered outside and flopped down in the chair next to me, letting out a forlorn sigh as he did so.

"Is everything okay?" I asked. And he launched into a mighty tale of elementary school woe. Some bully or other had singled him out for persecution, and he was having a hard time dealing with it.

"He makes me so mad that I want to hit him," Sean said, visibly wrestling with his emotions. "But it is not okay to hurt people."

It was out of my mouth before I could stop myself: "Okay, but you know what? Sometimes, it is."

"It is?" he asked, confused.

"Oh yeah," I said. "Definitely."

He digested that for a moment. A thin, macabre smile slowly spread across his face.

"Oops," I thought.

It took a couple of days' worth of picturing Sean gleefully burning his school down before I caved and called Co-Witch A. to confess.

"Let me see if I understand," she said, processing the situation. "What I'm hearing you say is, when a guidance counselor calls to inform me that Sean has murdered his classmates, I can refer her to you, and you'll be able to explain what happened."

I conceded that yes, that would be an accurate summation.

"Oh, good! I'm so glad we're on the same page. You have fun with that, hear?"

Many years ago, my parents decided that I should become a teacher, and did everything they could to coerce me down that particular career path. I wish I'd known Sean back then. I could have introduced him to my parents, and with one little directive...

"Sean, tell the nice people what you've learned from me."

...the question of my potential as a professional educator would have been tabled once and for all.


Livia Indica said...

I had an unpleasant encounter with a 9-year-old girl tonight. She was more interested in tv than anything else. *sigh* She's a real strain on my patience. But her 10-year-old brother is more like this Sean. He's introspective, thoughtful and insightful. Pretty cool.

Evn said...

The 10-year-old does sound a lot like Sean. However, Sean's also very into his TV shows, and doesn't understand that grown-ups don't want to watch cartoons... well, most grown-ups...

Co-Witch A.: "Sean, let's change the channel now, okay?"

Sean (9), Jack (37) and me (33): "But we're watching this."

Thalia Took said...

Well I'm a grown-up (I think), and I actually used to make cartoons. Home Movies, anyone?

Where do other grown-ups think animation comes from, the ink-and-paint fairies?

Evn said...

Oh hey, Home Movies! That's so cool that you were involved with that show. Are you responsible for the whole garden gnome theme?

Thalia said...

Well, no, actually, that's a bit after my time. I only worked on episodes 2-5 before I got transferred over to something else, Science Court probably, I don't remember now.

But, let me think: I did the Casablanca scene with the styrofoam cups and Brendan saying, "clink," the rabid Alexandre scene, which was a lot of fun, heh, as well as the one where Alexandre goes to heaven (first cat inside the gates drinking from the river running with milk is my old stripey cat Tippy, to prove to an ex-boyfriend that, no, she did NOT in fact go straight to Hell), and a couple other scenes, I don't remember now.

Though it's under my birth name, not my new one, so you'll have to look in the credits for "Mary Crane." If you are so interested, that is.

Evn said...

I am, in fact, so interested. And I'm going to rent all four seasons, and do the same thing I do everytime I see the cover of SageWoman magazine:

"Omigods! I know her!"

And then... well, then I squeal a little bit. My expression of delighted recognition is a bit high-pitched.

knottybynature said...

I have a 10 year old book worm and a 6 year old amazonian adventurer.

Or something close to those descriptions anyway.

I laughed at your back and forth comments between child and mom, which really has come along in my own life.

"Mom, I want to dye my hair pink."

"Okay, sweetie, when I get paid we'll get the dye, but it's gotta be semi-permanent or something light so I can dye it natural for school again in the winter...I don't understand how hair color effetcs schooling..."

Same kind of thing. At the moment, our talks are crossing over in to the nature of sex and reproduction (for the 10 year old) and that's a little weird, but coming along nicely.

And just think...had you been a teacher, you could have actually had the opportunity to mold children in your image. Or into an army of pet sociopaths who would do your bidding. :) Can you imagine the revolution?

Yvonne said...

Roll on the times when all parents a re like Evn and knottybynature!

Reminds me of the first time I came home drunk, and my mum said it was cool...

Yvonne said...

A friend of mine who was a right-on hippy said he was going to turn really square in time for his son's teenage rebellion in case he rebelled by turning into an accountant or something. I never did find out how that worked out. I've often wondered... Anyway, alternative parents... take note!

Souris Optique said...

dammit. Now there's coffee on my monitor.:)

Anonymous said...

"Mom, I'm gay."

"You get that from my side of the family. I mean, your father says he's bi-curious, but at this point he needs to either put up or shut up."


Evn dear,

You have GOT to start writing on a novel!!