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Sunday, July 15, 2007

Childhood Is Not For Wimps

The moment when life begins is a point of much contention in modern society. Some would argue that life begins at the moment when a woman says, “Whooh! I think I’m buzzed!” Others draw the point of genesis further along the gestation time-line.
However, no matter when it actually begins, the introduction of life into this world creates an immediate, wholly-involved, symbiotic relationship between you and another human being that will last for at least eighteen years. The roles of child and parent must be clearly defined, rules and boundaries must be set, and consequences must be consistently and immediately established. It is important to begin setting the parameters of this relationship immediately following birth; otherwise, you will never be able to exercise the necessary authority over your parents.
After the birthing process is complete, it is crucial to create a bond with your new parents. This is a relatively easy task to accomplish, but do not underestimate its importance. The warm maternal and paternal feelings you stir in these people now will carry you through years and years of selfish and narcissistic behavior on your part. Eye contact is very important with both mother and father. Even when breast-feeding from the mother unit, you should at least attempt to give a cursory glance toward her face. (If she does not breast-feed, take note of this. You will be able to use this to your advantage later.) In the case of the father-unit, you may also want to try grabbing his thumb. If done successfully, you may actually hear him say something like, “I promise to give you everything you ever want.” If this happens, it is appropriate to smile. Just try not to laugh.
Over the next few months, your new body will be growing and adjusting. Your mobility and strength will be limited. It is important to remember, however, that you are far from helpless. The bond that you have created with the parental units will facilitate most of your needs, wants, and, let’s face it, whims. Your power comes from the appropriate use of your orifices. You all got the handbook already, but let me just remind you of the basic sequence: Cry. Eat. Cry. Barf. Cry. Sleep. Cry. Poop. Cry. Repeat. You will use them individually and, when necessary, simultaneously, in order to systematically strip away the individual personalities, personal hopes, and independent will of your parental units. Notions like “someday writing a book” and “pursuing my music career” are not representative of the kind of thinking that will keep you in Playstations and Skechers, and, therefore, must be eradicated. If you are not the center of their universe, you are not doing your job.
As you begin to explore your facility with speech, be very careful to avoid the consonants of “d” and “m” for as long as possible. The parental units are desperately hoping to hear you utter the words “dada” and “mama,” and the longer you hold out on these two bits of gibberish, the greater your dominion. Helpful hint: give up the “dada” first. This will result in increased attention from the father unit, and perhaps even a repetition of the “everything you ever want” sentiment. (Remember: don’t laugh.) This will also result in increased attention from the mother unit hoping to elicit a “mama” as she questions her maternal abilities and laments her decision not to breast-feed. Do not let the span between the first “dada” and the first “mama” exceed more than three days, however. You will need her to retain at least some measure of sanity for the next few years yet.
As soon as you are feeling steady on your own feet, it is time to begin the basic training phase of the parental units. This should be something that is done at least once daily without fail. There are no “days-off” during this period. Christmas, Mother’s Day, and Halloween – these are working holidays.
First you must establish a “want.” This can be a toy, a piece of candy, a trip to McDonalds - it doesn’t really matter. You will cast it aside, anyway. The point is the “getting,” not the “having.” Once you have decided upon the desired item, you must get it, or more specifically, get the parental units to get it for you by using a variety of techniques.
The first technique is called persistence. You need to wear down their resolve. Be prepared to repeat the phrase, “Please Mom?” indefinitely and with increasing degrees of urgency. Keep count of the number of repetitions required before getting a result. You’ll want to beat that number the next time. You should always be improving.
Another highly effective technique is the tantrum. Ideally, the tantrum should occur in a public place, the more crowded the better. Scream. Drop to the ground. Kick your feet. Throw things. If the parental unit attempts to pick you up or touch you in any way, scream louder. Pull back as though burned, and yell, “Ow! You’re hurting me!” If you really want to see results fast, follow this with a cry for help.
Perhaps the most effective technique is the pout. This affects the guilt receptors in the parental unit’s inferior brain. The more pitiful that you can make yourself look, the better. If you can do it with a straight face, you might even want to use a phrase like, “If you cared about me” or even better, “I thought you loved me.” Practice these in a mirror whenever you get a chance. Just don’t get caught.
If none of these techniques work, then I am sorry to have to tell you that you have been saddled with the unenviable predicament of having what is known in the industry as “responsible parents.” I’m afraid that you have no choice left but to arrange to walk in on them having sex. Make sure to point and ask lots of questions. Again, try not to laugh.
This now concludes the childhood portion of your lessons. The seminars on teen and pre-teen behavioral reinforcement techniques will be provided annually at summer camp. (Make sure to put that on your “want” list.) You may want to begin proactively memorizing phrases like:
“I hate you!”
“Jenny’s mom trusts her!”
“I wish I were never born!”
“I think I’m old enough now for you to tell me I’m adopted.”
“You don’t care about me! You didn’t even breast-feed!”
The childhood years may be a bit trying at times, but don’t give up. Remember who’s in charge. Be firm, be consistent, and give no quarter. Obedient parents do not simply happen overnight.

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