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Thursday, February 22, 2007
Lying To Your Children
I am a parent. I'm pretty sure I have parents. And I'm almost positive they had parents too. Beyond that, I have no living proof that the earth did not begin in 1918. But I digress.
By the way, this is not a picture of me and Aimée!
The number one fear of every parent is: "I'm going to screw up my child." Unfortunately, we all have to realize that our children being screwed up is inevitable, despite our desire for change and meticulous attention to the details of caring for our offspring.
I know, you're saying - "Hey Funkyman, I know plenty of kids who have great family lives and get along great with their parents." You're right. That doesn't mean they're not screwed up, it just means they get along with their parents. Children don't get screwed up just because parents are responsible. No, children get screwed up because LIFE is screwed up. We have to teach our children how to perceive, handle, and react to life. Then we've done our job.
However, over the centuries, a few parental maxims have remained that, while they have good intentions, are NOT TRUE. I will highlight my three favorite parental unintentional lies.
1. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO IT.
Oh my goodness. This is so famous, I'm sorry I have to break everyone's bubble. First, let's start out by saying that I believe that you should set goals, do your best, and push yourself to expand your limitations. But can I do anything I put my mind to? No.
For example, I cannot beat Serena Williams at tennis. I cannot write a composition more perfect than Beethoven's 9th Symphony. I cannot run a mile in 4 minutes. And no matter how hard I think about it, I cannot be a white man.
You see, this is not to say I can't play tennis, or even very well. I can write great music and may write a perfect composition one day, but there's no such thing as more perfect. I can barely run a 10 minute mile, and even in my best shape, never broke 7 minutes. It's not realistic for my body type. And while I don't want to be a white man, there have been several times when life would have been just a little easier if . . .
All of those poor children who say "I'm going to be a doctor because I believe in myself." No you're not. Not everyone gets into medical school. And most of the people denied have dreamt of being doctors their whole life. Now are they supposed to stop dreaming? Absolutely not. Dreams are the most important thing. However, the above statement is not about dreams; it's a promise to the dreamer. Very dangerous. Take it from Funkyman: Hey dreamers - keep dreaming, but there are no promises in this life.
What we should tell our children is: "You have the power within you to do great things. Explore what your passions and gifts are, always strive for excellence, and don't be discouraged by your limitations."
2. IT'S NOT WHETHER YOU WIN OR LOSE; IT'S HOW YOU PLAY THE GAME
This sounds so right, I hate to have to destroy it. Again, the lesson here is well intentioned. But seriously, what if you always lose? People don't want to talk about this, but it happens. Winning instills a sense of accomplishment and pride. Playing the game well does too, even if you lose. But what if you lose and you suck? Then you're telling me I'm a double loser because not only did I lose the game, but the above maxim says that's not important - it's how I played that matters. Well I sucked! So what does that say? And what if I'm really good at a game without trying? I get to be a double winner? I win the game, and I'm amazing? You see my point.
Obviously, the point trying to be made is always strive to be better. But hey, life is short. What if I never get better this season, or next? Bottom line is, I would like to win one every once in a while to enjoy that party-like atmosphere I always see the other team having. I mean, look at our examples. When the Yankees win, they rub it in everone's face. When the Red Sox or Patriots win, someone DIES - like some human sacrifice to the God of sports. I'm not kidding, look it up.
If winning doesn't matter, try telling that to the millions of fans who spend billions of dollars a year to see their team win. If winning doesn't matter, why do college coaches get fired after ONE bad season? Hey I thought it was how you played the game that mattered, coach? Whatever.
3. THIS HURTS ME MORE THAN IT HURTS YOU
Ah, finally. The most famous of all. Who wrote this? Obviously someone who's never had a good spanking. I don't mean a tap on the butt. I mean the "Go get me a switch"/fear in your heart/get chased around the house/"NOOOO! MOMMMMM!!!!" kind of beating. If anyone reading this knows what I'm talking about, you don't need me to tell you that this could not hurt the parent more than it hurts you. What are they talking about?
I have had to discipline my daughter, and she cries her eyes out. No I didn't enjoy it one bit, but clearly this is hurting her more. This statement is just some sorry way of making the child feel better about getting punished.
NOTE TO PARENTS: This statement doesn't make us feel better. It makes us feel worse, obviously. It says - "Hey, I know it hurts, but I'm hurting MORE. My pain is greater, so get over it." Remember, this is a child you're talking to.
Enough. Parents of the world - raise your children well. We're all trying our best (I hope) to do right by our children. And when times get hard, just remember when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Wait, don't I need sugar and ice for that? Don't get me started again.