Is This Bullying?

So, the other night, Jimmy Kimmel aired a segment which compiled viewers’ video responses to his latest challenge for parents to pull holiday-related trickery on their children, after his “film your kids’ reaction after telling them you ate all their Halloween candy” segment went viral last month. This challenge was to wrap up some random garbage and give it to kids as an early Christmas present.

I find this entire thing really troubling, because pranks are a form of bullying even between peers, and a prank played by someone in a position of power, especially a parent pranking a child, is bullying that can fundamentally undermine trust.

Where some people see bullying and child abuse, I see over-entitled kids who are spoiled rotten. Getting hot dogs, juice, or a book as a Christmas gift is a huge tragedy for them. I can just imagine what they will grow up into. But oh, those poor kiddies who didn’t get a mountain of expensive toys and gadgets once in their lifetimes. They are total victims of horrible, mean parents.

We all know how sensitive I am about child abuse. But giving kids a book or a carton of eggs for Christmas is NOT abusive. It teaches them a very important lesson about entitlement.

I once saw this segment on television where grandparents gave their small grand-daughter $100 wrapped in a simple white handkerchief. The kid didn’t see the $100 bill but when she got the handkerchief her face lit up. She walked around the room, showing her gift to people and looking extremely happy about it. I don’t think there is any special attachment to handkerchiefs that this child has. She just managed to retain the kind of happy, joyous attitude to receiving any gift that all children have naturally. Of course, most of them lose it because they are showered with endless expensive gifts they no longer even manage to value for more than two minutes.

These kids are old enough to know that you do not throw tantrums no matter how much you dislike any gift you have been given. Where are their manners? Where is at least a glimmer of understanding that you should not hurt the feelings of a gift-giver even if s/he failed to please you with the gift?

How Can a Child Be in Debt?

I’ve been staring at this photo for two days but I honestly don’t get it. How can a child be in debt? Do banks lend money to small children? Can anybody explain?

I have to confess that I find the banking system in this country to be very mystifying.

I found the photo here but the accompanying post provides no explanation for it.

Through the Eyes of a Stranger: Children As Salespeople

What I find really weird is when people send out kids to sell chocolate bars, magazines, magnets, or any other kind of junk to collect money for charity. I think this is a very disturbing practice. Isn’t it too early for small children to be involved in the whole selling and buying ideology? They have the rest of their lives to feel like failures at selling stuff. Do they really need to be exposed to that as early as 5 (or 8, 10, 12)?

Also, is it really necessary to inculcate the idea that you can only be charitable if you manage to sell a lot? Then these kids grow up and it never even occurs to them that shelling out huge sums of money to feel self-righteous and good has nothing whatsoever to do with charity. People just sign monthly checks to charities in a completely mechanical way. Often, they even compete through the size of their donations.

We already have sales strategies invade too many areas of our lives. Is it really necessary to expose small children to sales under the guise of teaching them to be charitable? If instead you, for example, take a kid to the old folks’ home and get him or her to read a book or chat with a lonely elderly person, wouldn’t this do a lot more to develop this child as a human being than any amount s/he can bring in by selling stuff?

If I do decide to have a child and that child is forced to participate in this by their school, I’d just buy the entire stock of candy or chocolate bars or fridge magnets with my own money. And then I’d walk around with the kid distributing the stuff to people for free. Otherwise, I’d just die of shame if I see my (imaginary) child trying to sell things to people at an early age.

How do you, dear readers, feel about this phenomenon?

I was reminded of this disturbing phenomenon by this post.

Children Take You Back to Your Childhood

I don’t know why this happens but whenever I write a post on a subject, I start finding material for more posts on the same subject. Right after I finished writing my most recent post, I alighted on an article on parenthood that offered the following insight:

Children give the first four years of your life back to you.

This is a very important statement not only because it’s true but also because it explains very neatly why many people are terrified of having children. The first three years of our lives are crucial in that they lay the foundation of our personalities and of all the issues that will plague us in adulthood until we address them actively. Seeing a small child brings back to many of us the feelings that we had at that child’s age and that we have successfully repressed. The more we were traumatized by our earliest experiences, the more intolerable the sight of a small child will be. It’s one thing when the child in question is somebody else’s. Then, the anxiety can be dealt with, at least to a degree. However, seeing a child who is one’s own makes it difficult not to imagine it as a continuation of oneself, which makes one relive the traumatic early childhood experiences.