What I Want to Teach Children Who Aren’t Mine

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In the past year, there have been several children born to family and friends. There were several others born in the last three years. There are at least two more announced to be on the way.

None of them are mine, and none will ever be mine if I have my way (which I will, because I have agency and will FIGHT YOU TO THE DEATH to protect it). But I’ll be around as they grow up. I’ll develop a reputation as the eccentric spinster aunt. Yesterday my sister texted me to describe the giant turd her six month old produced because she knew I’d be proud. One day I’ll tell my nephew that story, so he knows just how proud I am.

What’s important for me to share, as that eccentric spinster aunt, is the sense of humour that will shape these children into good satirical citizens. Critical thinking has a punchline. Critical thinking makes little sense, because it grasps at straws for the even less sense that’s there to begin with. Children need to know why I’m single and childless and why I burst into laughter out of nowhere and why I get so many blank stares. I will share with them a few inspiring works that can start to explain why.

First of all, their grandfather will already ensure they get to know Monty Python when they’re mature enough. “Mature enough” for my father is twelve, or at least that’s when Flying Circus started to air at a time when I’d still be awake. I will need to warn them that the Ex-Parrot has become an Ex-Joke and not in an appreciable meta sense. I will need to facetiously tell them the human resources profession is exactly like the gooood-a-niiiiiight a-ding-ding-ding sketch, and try to convince them that there ARE two peaks to Mount Kilimanjaro.

Though it’s no longer on Netflix, I have on hand all five seasons of Kids in the Hall. I watched that show in the single digits and I came out okay, so if I start showing them certain sketches when they’re six or seven it will plant the right seeds nice and early. It will also do a better job of introducing them to LGBT* concepts from a historical perspective, hopefully leading them to believe that the world has been too stagnant for the past 30 years and we need a queer revolution now.

Speaking of revolutions – Mallory Ortberg, co-editor of The Toast and author of many of its best articles, will be required reading once they reach the double digits, to see how ridiculous the past looks in retrospect, and how ridiculous the heteronormative patriarchy looks now. I can’t imagine the heteronormative patriarchy looking much better in ten years, but it’s a win-win situation even if those institutions of an oppressive society are ripped to shreds.

Mitch Hedberg might need to wait until their teen years, as both a pro-drug and anti-drug message. The pro-drug message is that the world is hilarious in ways that uptight sober people don’t take the time to appreciate. The anti-drug message is that Mitch Hedberg is dead, and he doesn’t need to be because the comedy he made is funny in any state of mind.

Children deserve to be children. They deserve to have open minds, to make mistakes early enough to fix them, and to giggle at things that they aren’t able to verbalize. As people get older and more serious, they think that what they aren’t able to verbalize doesn’t exist. Exposing young minds to the creative brilliance that’s managed to capture these things anyway is what I want to contribute to another generation. I want them to see that what can make them a better person comes from taking far less seriously than everyone else.

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365 Things

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365 things to do by on December 31, 2015

I had the idea the night of December 30th to accomplish a full year’s cheesy bucket list. It was a bit late to brainstorm things that could possibly be crammed into one final day, since it was nearly the end of the evening and I had a full day of work in the way. But I can plan for it next year. I’m sure there are self-help types who encourage 365 goals for any year because blah blah blah every day counts yadda yadda yadda.

But it takes a special, reckless person to procrastinate an entire year’s goals and still achieve them. That’s the kind of person I want to be. And I have a whole year, rather than a few hours, to list things that I could conceivably do all on New Year’s Eve of 2015. Let’s start that list now.

  1. Wear black lipstick to work – a tribute to my gothic youth
  2. Shop at a store I’ve never shopped at before
  3. Dye my hair a new colour
  4. Go for lunch at a restaurant I’ve never been to
  5. Order a kind of meal I have never eaten at that restaurant
  6. Go for dinner at a restaurant I’ve never been to
  7. Order a kind of meal I have never eaten at THAT restaurant (okay, so there’s a bit of redundancy, but there are only 24 hours to work with here)
  8. On that note, stay up the entire 24 hours from midnight to midnight
  9. Tell somebody (to be determined) how I REALLY feel
  10. Read an entire book (title to be determined)
  11. Go on a longer run than I have before
  12. Email somebody I don’t know personally, but has inspired me, to give them appreciation
  13. Troll a despicable reddit subforum
  14. Listen to a new podcast for the first time

This list will be added to as ideas come. These things must take less than four minutes on average, though some can be handled simultaneously. To have this list in progress will encourage different thinking to reach the goal of writing enough things down. As much of a joke as it is about achieving goals and improving your life by small steps, that’s what it turns into.

But if I’m going to write about it, it’s better I do so all in one day rather than track my progress over the year. For the reader’s sake.