It has been said that if you are a conservative under 30 you have no heart, but that if you are a liberal over 30 you have no head. I’m not sure I agree, but I have noticed a certain shift toward curmudgeondom as I march inevitably toward double digit trips to the bathroom each night. What gripes me more than ever?
Motorists who don’t get out of the way for emergency vehicles for sure. Yesterday, I pulled over to allow an ambulance to get by. But other drivers pulled around my stopped car to gain an advantage in their frenzied pursuit of wherever they were going. And don’t get me started about leaving a safe distance between the car in front of you on the interstate. Cars will swoop in from the right.
Admittedly these incidents took place in a big city where even using a turn signal is a sign of weakness. But every metropolis has signs at intersections:
Which infuriates me. I mean, what is the alternative? Motorists who haven’t given the matter any thought don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks? They run over the pedestrians and opine, “Well, there was no sign that said we shouldn’t smack into people.” In a perfect world, or even a world inhabited by some number of decent people, the following sign would be especially unnecessary.
“Oh, wouldja lookit that, Martha? I guess we better not run over all them kids now, huh?”
“Cui bono?” means “who benefits?” Which drivers are helped by this sign? Who needs this reminder? “Stop For Children In Crosswalk” concerns me. How stupid are we?
Plenty stupid apparently. Because “Employees Must Wash Hands Before Returning To Work” also terrifies me. Absent this sign, there were employees who weren’t washing their hands after going to the bathroom? It’s too horrible to contemplate.
Are we marching forward? Were things better in our halcyon past? Here’s an ad from a comic book published in 1963.
What is going on here? Do you think it’s likely that poems are actually wanted? Or do you suspect there is some sort of scam being perpetrated? Might there be a follow up request for money? “These poems are great, but send us your samoleans and we’ll show you how to make them better.” Another example of this con is referred to as an MFA in creative writing.
Does the ad above seem likely to you? Do you think the Dynaflex Method can build you a magnificent new he-man-muscled body in just ten minutes a day? This author has consistently been going to the gym several days a week for the past 40 years. His body could hardly be described as “He-Man-Muscled.” I am also skeptical that the man in the photo was named “MIKE MARVEL” at birth, but again, I am old and grouchy.
The phrase “Drinking the Kool-Aid” has entered the lexicon because in 1978, there were 918 people who drank a cyanide laced beverage believing that an invisible friend for adults who lives in the sky would do something nice for them. Instead, they remain dead, having been subjected to the worst sting of all.
Believing that which is false is harmful to children and other living things. Revealing personal banking information or sending money to an unknown Internet entity makes sense compared to supposing that there is an advantage to believing Jim Jones has your best interests at heart.
How do we encourage our children to be aware of the swindlers who would do them economic, emotional, and physical harm?
I hesitate to speak out against as venerable a presence as the Tooth Fairy. But helping your kids discern falsehood—there’s a being with wings who exchanges cash for your teeth—from truth—your child is a mammal—might be a good place to start.
Less controversial might be allowing your kids to be loved for who they are rather than what they do. It’s tempting to communicate, “you’re the best ever, I’ve never seen such a beautiful drawing, what a great accomplishment.” Better might be to provide unconditional acceptance and support. The sooner your child comes to understand that your fondness in not dependent of their becoming the next Picasso/Albright/Curie/Mahomes the better.
It might not seem to be a straight line from your child believing they are the best athlete/student/artist in the world to their accepting that they can have He-Man muscles in just ten minutes a day. But a bonus might be raising a good citizen, one who even knows to pull over to let an ambulance get by.
Which, if nothing else, would be appreciated by this grumpy author. And could help us move in the direction of a world in which signs telling us not to run over children would not be necessary.