Friday, December 9, 2022

Parents And Children

Parents are only little children who lived to sexual maturity. If they could, at some point, convince a member of the opposite sex to conjugate with them, they might successfully bring a child into the world. This process is so haphazard that it is hard to believe that it has escaped effective regulation all this time.

Those successful individuals have joined the ranks of “parents.” They may or may not be married to each other. They may still legally be children themselves. The pregnancy may have been by design or it may have been an accident. They may possess the skill-set necessary to be decent parents, or they may suffer from a complete failure to meet any of the suggested criteria.

There is no license required, and usually there is no medical oversight or examination until the pregnancy is noticed. Medical assistance is generally available to pregnant women in America, but, as is typical for that benighted country, you will get what you can afford and that will be very little if you don't have the Do-Re-Me.

This is all a terrible idea. There is a huge amount of information that expectant parents must know and understand if they are to have any hope at all for a good result. The list of things that an expectant mother must avoid is long and constantly growing. No smoking or drinking, of course, and probably lay off the weed, although no official of any kind would even broach that subject. Don't eat this; do eat lots of this. Take vitamins. No one, even the participants who have excellent health coverage, no one gets all of the information. I'll tell you a secret: the doctors don't know it all themselves. You're better off going to a good women's health center and receiving the wisdom of female specialists who would five hundred years ago have been called witches.

I just came across a new one the other day. Pregnant women must not eat partially sprouted bean-sprouts. Or any partially sprouted anything, one imagines. Oh, here's a good one that they usually tell you only when it's too late: do not take any long flights on commercial aviation during your first trimester. You run the risk of birthing a baby with a cleft pallet. I'm pretty sure that last one should be part of the early warning packet. Good luck if you took a long flight recently and subsequently discovered that you were six weeks pregnant. That's going to be a nail-biter.

Good parents are rare. Is that unnecessarily judgmental? Let's say good parents are in the minority. I've been around this block a few times, and I've seen a lot of everything. Good parents will make their children feel welcome in the home, will make the children feel loved, will encourage the children in their little endeavors and put up with some reasonable level of eccentricity. There will be no screaming or hitting. Good parents will recognize and tolerate children whose temperaments do not match those of the parents.

The sad truth of it is that many parents bring no talents at all to the enterprise. Many see it as a tremendous imposition from day one. Babies are a lot of work, and many parents resent the loss of recreational opportunities, sleep, money, the loss of being the focus of attention themselves. They resent the many tasks that babies add to the schedule. Many parents, let's face it, are crazy, or at least suffering from some kind of personality disorder. The thrill of being a new parent, if it had ever been experienced, may wear off quickly. And for some parents, while the babies were so cute and cuddly, by the age of four or five they have turned into little monsters that require stern discipline.

The little monsters' lives may become difficult at that point. They may be ignored, or physically abused, or emotionally abandoned, or even literally abandoned. I can speak from experience here. I was raised by wolves, myself. I like the sound of that, although I know it is a slander on wolves to compare them to my parents. Shall we say that I raised myself? Those Goddamned nuns certainly didn't help.

I got married young and became a parent as soon as it was mathematically possible. I raised two sons. They've never been any trouble to anyone. They seem like good men. People like them. I enjoyed raising them, and during that process I did have the feeling that I was doing an okay job of it. I am increasingly convinced that that was really a myth that I invented to comfort myself.

But my ACE score is five out of six, so I doubt my objectivity on the subject.

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