I have written 350 of these essays. If the crik don't rise, I intend to write 350 more. If you have been gracious enough to read a few of these blogs, you are entitled to ask why. Why do spend three hours one early morning each week forcing these electrons into paragraphs? Why not just go back to bed after going where even the king must go himself?
Bear with me as I remind you about the monkeys and the typewriters. Enough monkeys punching enough random keys will, in the fullness of time, produce "Hamlet." Admittedly, said monkeys will also produce rather a lot of haphazard gibberish. In a perfect world, perhaps the monkeys could seek employment as political speechwriters. In the meantime, note that the statistical likelihood that the monkeys come up with "Hamlet" is the fraction 1/26 to a large exponent. One out of 26 is the chance that the monkey hits the typewriter key corresponding to the first letter of "Hamlet." One out of 26 is the chance that the monkey gets the next key correct. Multiply all those one out of 26s together and you have what we mathematicians used to call, "the correct answer."
Like the monkeys who usually (okay, extremely usually if you like) aren't typing "Hamlet," I like to believe that there is some probability, however small, that if I persevere in churning out these columns I might someday write a sentence comparable to the following. The only backstory needed is that the author allowed a noxious character, one Mr. Blifil, to die of an apoplexy in a previous chapter. Here is Fielding's insight into the point of view of the widow:
"Mrs. Blifil (as, perhaps, the reader may have formerly guess'd) was not over and above pleased with the behavior of her husband; Nay, to be honest, she absolutely hated him, till his death, at last, a little reconciled him to her affections."
What glorious understatement. What endearing parentheticals. What a searing insight into the marriage of the Blifils specifically and all bad marriages in general.
My affection for this sentence may be a roundabout way of bringing forth my topic for this week. These past two and a half centuries have not produced much that is novel about marriage. There isn't that much that is new about how to raise healthy kids in this toxic culture either. What is human nature? What are reasonable ways to participate in a good marriage? How can loving parents have appropriate connections with their children? It's all there in a book published for the first time in 1748.
Loving parents can determine which narratives they wish to employ in their homes. Soundtracks are available that excoriate filial duty and affection. There are storylines suggesting that your child's accomplishments are more important than your child's connection with you, her parent. There is, in short, a whole bunch of twaddle available. You can raise your kids according to any of the manuscripts that aren't "Hamlet." For example:
Pqrvt--no responsibilities--bletch--no family time--schnarck--television instead of books--frumpt--violent video games rather than camping trips--glumph--ignorance and sloth--yuk poo.
But there are healthy patterns as well. Indeed, with the advent of medicine and communication, it is easier than ever to keep our kids safe and healthy. I may never write a sentence approaching the virtuosity of "Nay, to be honest, she absolutely hated him, till his death, at last, a little reconciled him to her affections." As it may be some time before the monkeys write "Hamlet, the Sequel," we must remain vigilant. We can raise healthy kids. We can wrest sense and sensibility--just to mention a phrase that also makes me weep for the unrelenting genius of the language--from the overwhelming preponderance of haphazard refuse.
So we are agreed: I'll keep producing these blogs; you'll keep doing the best you can with your kids. Maybe I'll never come up with a sentence that will live for 250 years. Maybe you and your kids won't have a perfect relationship.
Just the same, I'll look forward to seeing you here next week.