You ever notice how children want to grow up and adults want to shrink down? (Bet you didn't see that one coming). George Carlin says that life is lived backwards, we start with the wonder of birth and then march inexorably along the path of greater responsibility, bodily decay, and eventual death. I disagree. I don't think that babies have it so great. I mean sure they get to lie around in their cribs all day but they're constantly having to deal with all sorts of things that just aren't issues in an adult's day. When was the last time you recoiled in horror screaming "What's this thing at the end of my leg?" At this point almost everybody reading this journal has learned to accept their feet. Also adults have more than one way of dealing with the unknown. When you're a baby your options are pretty much A) Cry or B) Put it in my mouth. Imagine if we reacted like this to unfamiliar things in the modern world.
Sylvia: Hey Steve, could you hold my purse for me while I go to the…GET THAT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.
Pete: There there Jim…it's just the new W-2 form. It'll be okay buddy, you can handle this. Let it out big fella, just let it out.
Babies are confined against their will because they're incompetent. Do you really want that? Plus their only appreciation for breasts is as a food source. They don't get to have a steak dinner and then clumsily grope their date as she tries to extricate herself gracefully from their grasps. It's a combination deal. Like having Christmas and your Birthday on the same day and only getting the one present. Babies get gyped.
Being a kid has its upsides and its downsides, but since it's a once in a lifetime opportunity we romanticize it beyond belief. Here's a little tip about once in a lifetime opportunities. They're usually scams. If someone went up to you today and said "Tell you what. I'm gonna let you only go to work between 8:15 AM and 3:00 PM in an office run by an unreasonable tyrant and with coworkers who give you wedgies and will taunt you mercilessly if you so much as look at a girl, let alone talk to one. In exchange you will have NO money, can't drink, can't drive, will be expected to produce the capital of Iowa on demand and have to be in bed by 9. Also there may be algebra involved." Would you jump on that offer?
Still we persist in the idea that adults want to be children. Before graduation from my school (and thus achievement of full on adulthood, except for those who are going to grad school and will remain adolescents into their 30's) they offer a little carnival complete with one of those bouncy castles that seemed like a whole lot of fun back when you were like 5 and didn't know what a rollercoaster was. Now I could take that as an admission of failure on the part of the administration or a not so subtle act of condescension (Congratulations, you have had 4 years of our education. Yeah, we've decided that you're finally ready for the bouncy castle.) but I'm going to assume that less insidious motives were at play.
The way I see it there are two possibilities of what they were thinking. A) Congratulations on graduating. We're going to reward you with an activity that has the best fun to threat of lawsuit ratio we can think of. B) Poor bastards. You're about to go out into the real world and find out what it's like to answer to a boss who not only doesn't give extensions on papers but expects you to explain why he forgot to send his bosses daughter a Bat Mitzva gift. You're going to get eaten alive out there. Might as well give them one last ride on the bouncy castle before reality sticks its boot so far up your ass that your tongue has "Timberland" printed on it.
I think the latter really holds the key to this obsession with childhood. It's when the shitty part of being older smacks you in the face that you want to be a kid again. It's not when the 24 year old with piercing green eyes and pert pale breasts decides to give you a wake-up hummer before she goes off to whatever it was she said her work was (Something with a b? It's downtown, right?). People scream out a lot of weird, crazy, shit during orgasm but "I wish I was 7 years old again" is pretty unusual.
No, it's when the rough stuff hits that we want to regress. I think that this insight could be very useful and have practical applications in the real world.
Like if you have to fire someone, give him a kite.
Don't do it at 5:00 PM after he's had a long day at work either, or on a rainy day. Go into his office right before lunch, hand him his kite and say "I'm sorry Lou, things are tight. It's a beautiful day though. Since you're not going to need to come back to the office this afternoon you should enjoy yourself." People would still see Lou walking out of his office with the kite tucked under his arm and all his office possessions packed into a cardboard box and feel sorry for him. But you know what? They'd feel a little jealous too. Sure he might not have health insurance anymore and his house will probably be forclosed in a few months, but this afternoon he's going off to frollic among the dandylions with his brand new kite while they'll be cursing at "Raj" trying to get password access to the necessary files so that they can get out of the office and home before their kids are asleep/ready for college.
Maybe if Lou's been with the company for ten or more years you could give him like a pez dispenser and one of those bright plastic toys that clack when you twirl them too. You know, to take the edge off. I'm sure that if we gave out kites to terminated employees we'd have a lot fewer office shootings. I mean really, when given a choice between killing your coworkers or dancing along the ground while Spider-Man soars high above you in the sky, who's going to reach for the AK-47?
This would apply to any scenario. "Yeah, sorry about the Leukimia, but you can have two scoops of any flavor that you want!"
"I'm sorry. I can't live like this any more. I've been lying to myself and to you. I'm a lesbian and I have to deal with that. I never meant to hurt you. We'll take a week, go to Disneyland, and then I'm moving into a hotel. You can get mousey ears with your name on them."
Of course where reform is most needed is in jail, specifically on death row. What's more adult than being executed for your crimes? To even execute a kid we have to try him as an "adult." I wonder what the early teens who hear that think. "Oh boy! I'm going to be treated like an adult! Wait, that means that if they find me guilty they can inject poison into me in front of a crowd of people? LAME!"
Death row inmates have lives that really suck. They already have many of the downsides of being a kid. Can't go out. No TV. Have to be in bed by a certain time. The state is going to end your life in 3 months. (Okay, in the case of a kid the state's going to sponser a dance in 3 months where Karen Lowe will make out with Marty Jenkins of all people and it will only FEEL like the end of your life.) Why shouldn't they get some of the comforts?
Max "The Masher" Kizlowski may have ground up 5 young girls and sold them as dog food but that doesn't mean he can't appreciate pizza night. Larry Ziggler might have shot those cops while coked out of his mind, but what harm could he do with a squirt gun (one of those unbreakable kinds that he couldn't fashion into a shiv) He's got 2 weeks left on this earth, pending appeals. He should be able to make the guards look like they went peepee in their pants. Maybe if he'd had a teddy bear back when he was on the street it wouldn't have gone down like that. The whole of death row should be made up in pastel colors with crayon maps of the united states taped to the walls and Pete Sieger music piped in. It would help people keep their minds off things.
As for children, well we already treat them like adults when bad adult type stuff happens. If your parents get divorced you wind up with money, or the gift equivalent. You can stay up as late as you like on the night that Grandma dies.
I'm just suggesting reciprocity.
I know that if I get drafted for the war in Iraq, I'm going to demand a pinwheel.