Alex Barnett takes a hilarious look at setting a good example as a parent and teaching your child the art of self-control.
I’m trying to teach my son to be a good person. It isn’t easy because people naturally are pretty sucky and selfish. Point is, being nice is not human nature. Evolution is based on survival of the fittest, not survival of the nicest. You can’t hunt and gather if you’re saying “pardon me” and drinking tea with your pinky sticking out like some British dude on Downtown Abbey. You don’t make partner by holding the door for people unless you slam it shut on their head as they’re going through.
That said, civilization depends on us to overcome our primal instincts. Society needs us to teach kids as soon as possible the art of self-control.
The good news is that being with your kid makes you want to be a better person. It makes you want to set a good example. So, my son throws my watch in the toilet, and I laugh, even as I stick my hand in there to get it. Someone else does that, I’d shove their head in there and make them fish it out with their teeth. Because with my son, I’m trying to lead by example, whereas with the other person, I’m trying to make an example of them so nobody else thinks they can mess with me by pulling stuff like that.
That’s why teaching a toddler right from wrong is so difficult. Because it means doing the right thing even when the wrong thing is so richly called for.
Here’s an example: We’re at the toy store and my son is holding a toy which some kid grabs. My son starts crying and reaching for it, and the kid won’t give it back.
So, I look around for the parents, hoping they’ll get the kid to give it back and apologize, but they’re nowhere to be found. They’re just wandering around, completely unconcerned with what’s happening. Their kid could light the place on fire, and they wouldn’t know.
So, I say to my son, “It’s okay. He’ll take a turn, and then you’ll take a turn.”
And, I say that because I want to to teach my son to do the right thing and be the bigger person.
But what I really want to do is listen to my instincts, grab the toy from the kid, punch him in the face, and then when he tries to get up say: “Stay down if you know what’s good for you.” And, then I want to tell my son to kick the kid in the ribs while he says “That’s what you get if you f*ck with our family!”
And, then I want to go find his dad. I’ll know who he is because I just have to look for the self-absorbed, rich clown who’s texting and not paying attention to all the evil stuff his pampered, nanny-raised kid is doing.
And, I’ll say “Hey, I think something’s wrong with your kid.” Then, when he says thanks and goes to see what’s up, I’m gonna follow behind him and cold-cock him in the back of the head.
But, I can’t do any of that. Because I’m raising my son to be a good person.
So, instead, I repeat to my son, “Don’t worry. He’ll take a turn, then you’ll take a turn.”
And, 10 minutes later, when we’re still waiting for that porcine, pink-cheeked, pain-in-the-butt — I mean kid — to give up the toy, I’ll turn to my son and as loud as I can, so I know the kid can hear us, I’ll say, “Hey, let’s forget about that toy. Let’s go get some ice cream.”
And, as we walk out of the store, I’ll turn around and glare at that little brat we’ve left in our wake, and I’ll point at him and mouth the words, “Take that, you S.O.B.”
Or, at least, I’ll think it.