Friday, October 5, 2007

Children, Dogs, Reason

I tend to like other people's kids about as much as I like other people's dogs, which is to say that if they've been trained not to hump my leg or lick my face, we seem to get on okay, but I don't feel a strong desire to pet or hold or fawn over them. I'd say that 90% of the time when I leave the room with someone else's child and/or dog, my overwhelming reaction is that I'm glad it lives in their house and not mine.

The thing about other people's dogs is that at least you can reason with them. With enough Pavlovian input, they'll eventually sit, heel, get you the paper, etc. Children don't seem to work that way. Maybe it's because shock collars and choke chains are off the table when it comes to child rearing. I've sat through enough tantrums on planes and in restaurants to make the thought of someone's retriever making love to my knee seem downright pleasant.

When you don't have kids, your first reaction to a kid doing something annoying is, "why don't that's kid's parents take him home and lock him in the closet." Now that you're on the way I'm having to examine the practicality of that strategy. As far as I know, closet locking is on the decline in this country, so there must be some newer, better way to deal with the madness.

From what I can see, ignoring the situation seems to be popular. We were at lunch yesterday and the adults seated around a screaming toddler just seemed to glaze over and plow ahead with their conversation. Maybe they're just numb to it. Maybe they're so sick of being at home they don't give a damn. I can't say for sure, but I think my sense of empathy for other diners is going to make this one tough to implement.

The other method deals with the time honored If this Then that scenario, i.e. if you don't shut up, then we're going to lock you in the closet. The problem here seems to be a misalignment of goals. If you've taken the child to a restaurant and what the child is screaming about is that it wants is to leave, then leaving would seem to reinforce the idea that screaming is a good way to get your parents to take you home. But if you stick it out, try to teach them a lesson, you end up torturing everyone else in order to make your point. Maybe this is that whole, it's takes a village thing.

I plan only to engage you in properly timed and formatted Lincoln / Douglas debates. The sooner you learn to effectively rebut the affirmative constructive the sooner you can get out of that closet.

Novel - Drafting Ch 7 (well, sort of)
Dunking - Still just jogging
French - Le cheval est sur le table.

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