The Coke Bottle Ruins Everything

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Malcolm Stories

Shortly after this photo was taken, a frisbee was introduced to the group. Teeth were lost.

Scene 1- Some boys are playing nicely in the park. They throw sand on the slide and pretend they are trains coming out of a tunnel. They have imaginary picnics and provide the parents with such delicacies as “chocolate cake with ketchup sauce.” They are getting along nicely until, during a lull in the action, the parents provide the kids with two tennis rackets and a ball. After a grand total of five minutes, the kids turn on one another, alternately fighting with each other over the ball and then attempting to bash each others’ brains in with the rackets. They went from “Model UN” to “Lord of the Flies.”

Scene 2- A group of kids sit in the dugout awaiting their turn at bat. They ceaselessly play grabass, but generally the coach is able to focus most of his attention to the player at the plate. One child ventures out and smuggles one of the practice balls back into the dugout. The ball is then bandied about amongst the kids, being used as a bludgeoning weapon and a missile. The coach loses it, and practice is halted until the object aggression is removed.

Scene 3- A child goes to school with Trainspotting brand toy heroin kit (complete with bendy spoon!) The kids, who had previously been boning up on the geography of Southeast Asia or the Spanish terms for the parts of a flower, start tying themselves off and engage in what experts call “euphoric projectile vomiting.” The teacher removes the kit, causing some of the heavier pretend users to retreat to the corner while itching and shaking uncontrollably. Most of the kids now have temporary tattoos all over their body.

What is the unifying theme of these scenarios? The answer is that the kids were fine until some foreign item was introduced into the situation. Left to their own devices, children use their imaginations and seek common ground to relate to the other kids around them. The “item,” whatever it is, upsets this level playing field and turns the socialist nirvana into a capitalist nightmare. For this reason, I firmly believe that the worst thing you can ever do for your kids, besides bringing them within slapping distance of Wendi Deng, is to give them something to play with.

If I were smarter, I would you point you to the scientists who found that theĀ  possession of external objects is one of the most common causes of violence amongst children (and apes too!) I could also direct you to the research of social scientists who argue that toy based play has led to a decline in the executive function of kids today. I won’t (even though I just did!) and will leave you with this one nugget of parenting wisdom for today:

Don’t send your kids to school with pretend heroin kits.

You’re welcome.

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