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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