3 days to Christmas. 3 days to that blissful day where every CEO on the planet does that half dance-half dollar signs in the eyes thing. 3 days until nearly every child on the planet wakes up their parents about 8 seconds after midnight, exclaiming that it’s now Christmas and that presents are awaiting them; calling out their names so loud that they penetrate the subconscious and wake them from their drug-induced slumber from the night before.
I’m going to step out on a limb here for a second and risk ostracization (is that even a word?) from my whole family, and probably many other families out there too. I understand the meaning behind Christmas, and that’s to do something nice for someone else. The question I posit is this: if you are expected to do something by someone else, when you do it, are you being nice, or are you simply submitting to their will? What do I mean by that? Well, if little Timmy keeps saying he needs this really cool G.I. Joe, when you finally break down and give into his demands (and let’s face it, kids today don’t ask, they demand), are you promoting the idea of Christmas, or are you promoting the idea that whining, complaining, and generally being an annoying little piece of dirt will still ultimately end in receiving a reward?
Unfortunately, that’s what Christmas has degenerated into: a parent’s excuse to buy their kids enough toys to keep them occupied long enough that they can go have a break, or a coffee, or a shot of heroin; whatever it is that parents do nowadays. But if you step back for a second and re-read that, is that really parenting? I was really lucky when it came to my family, my direct parents weren’t necessarily always there, but there was always someone that was active in my life. End result: I turned out to be a relatively normal human being. I’m no saint and am definitely not deluding myself into thinking I may have been one at any point in this or even in a previous life, but I’d like to think that I turned out alright.
Then we look at some of these kids who have grown up with a silver spoon in their mouths and a silver thermometer lodged firmly in their asses. They grow up with such thorough disdain for any kind of authority that you can walk up the street of any suburban community and audibly hear 8 and 9 year olds complaining that they should be independant enough to choose their own bedtimes. Kids 13 and 14 years old can be heard screaming “FUCK YOU [MOM/DAD/GRAMMA/MAILMAN]” as they slam the door behind them and set out on their epic journey to their best friend’s house for the night. Of course the crying 8 and 9 year olds can be heard just as clearly, crying loudly enough that most colicy infants on the street immediately become jealous, which is inevitably silenced moments later when (and I’m just guessing here) the parents give in to the child, and remove any credibility they may have once held.
I mean, I can’t understand why parents do this. If you’re going to say no 5 times, and say yes the 6th, just say yes the first time; all you’re doing is starting a fight, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being in fights. Just remove those first 5 no’s and skip to the yes, because that just means less arguing between the two of you involved, and less whining from the child which I know for a fact pisses even the most calm parent off. Put another way, if you’re going to lose the backbone eventually, skip the messiness and just skip to the child getting what they want yet again, avoiding the ensuing fight altogether. You may not care, but when I’m at the mall, the last thing I want to hear is some petulant child whining about how they just have to have and blah blah blah. If you’re going to be a terrible parent, just skip the part where I have to hear your child scream; it’s annoying as hell, and I shouldn’t have to listen to it.
However, if you want instill any kind of respect in your child: just say no. Let me repeat that again in case you were too busy typing out an e-mail flaming me for being a non-parent trying to give parenting advice: just say no. And one more time for those in the back who might not have heard me: JUST SAY NO. And I didn’t say “Say no the first <#> of times and then give in.” Say no. And then say no again. Then say it again. Hell make a song of it if you want. I don’t care if you put on a tutu and shout it from the rooftops. Sing no until the word yes doesn’t exist in your child’s vocabulary. The second you give in, your child has won, and will continue to exploit it for the rest of their lives. I mean, if they start a job and ask for a raise, do you think that if they pester their manager for long enough without improvement, that their manager is just going to give in and give the annoying little piece of garbage a raise? Absolutely not. You might as well prepare them for the perpetual disappointment of requests that we adults like to call “work.”
Now, enough ranting. If people can’t figure out what I’m trying to say by now, they’re long lost anyways. Let’s get to a cheerier subject, like Christmas in Bermuda – I cannot wait. 22 above (or so says www.weather.bm), champagne, and a whole lot of beach. Yes friends, you heard me right, I will be on the beach on Christmas. Starting Christmas Eve around 7, people will begin to make their way over to Sea Scene (our house; no we didn’t pick the name, it has to do with the fact that Bermuda didn’t even have street names until 10 years ago and all houses and buildings just had names) where we will have a huge barbecue (cost of extra tank and propane last night: ninety-six freakin’ dollars), followed by enough drinking to put a serious dent in the world’s alcohol supply, and then sleep. Once we wake up from our alcohol-induced comas, we will peel ourselves off whatever surface happened to catch us on our gravity fall the night previous, we shall orally insert 5 or more high-strength tylenols and wash them down with a bottle of water or two, and make our way over to Elbow Beach where nearly every ex-patriate (and a lot of patriates too) will be drinking themselves stupid again, and opening Christmas cards and the odd gift.
Oh yeah, and we’ll be swimming. No, the water isn’t actually warm enough to swim in, but do you really think that’s going to stop an island full of Canadians who are going to be near-dancing for joy at the fact that there will be not a flake of snow, a shovel or toboggan in sight? Of course not. Plus the fact that we’ll probably be drunk from the night before might have something to do with it, but I’m not a scientist. I’m not paid enough to know these kinds of things.
Finally, I would like to send Christmas wishes to my family, my friends, and hell, everyone who has happened across this blog at one time or other. You know that as much as I gloat about how great Bermuda is, I miss each and every one of you so much it hurts sometimes. I know that this is one of those life experiences that I need to do, but don’t think for a second that I don’t think about every single one of you every single day. Thank you for reading, have a great Christmas, an even better New Year, and I hope to see you all (and more) in 2007.
and Happy New Year!