Child’s Play

On the way to work this morning I passed five or six screaming little kids, each tied to this colorful red rope and being escorted down the street by a bunch of adults. This being Chinatown I assumed that they were being led off to market, perhaps to be purchased by a shadowy figure and raised as ninjas or converted into some kind of bacon, but it turns out that they were on the way to the local library where some creepy monster was going to tell them about the letter “Q”. Later THAT VERY MORNING I saw another bunch of kids similarly roped-up, thus proving that it’s a nationwide trend I can plausibly fill a few column-inches about in this blog.

As a youth I don’t remember ever being tied to other children*. On our few trips into the Big City I have a vague recollection of my mother or grandparents doing a lot of shouting and gesticulating and perhaps the occasional prodding of us with a lit cigarette if we got too much out-of-hand, but not this chain-gang stuff.

This is totally like the beginning of "Army of Darkness."

This is totally like the beginning of “Army of Darkness…”

Mind you, in those days we weren’t bombarded with appalling stories about child predators and serial killers by a desperate-for-attention news media, so child-rearing was more casual. I was not under adult supervision 100% of the time, forced to engage in an unending series of spirit-breaking rituals laughingly called “after-school sports.” Instead I got to do what I wanted, which usually meant watching seriously awful afternoon TV or reading trashy science fiction novels and eating potato chips with onion dip in my bedroom. Nowadays kids fill those empty hours by playing Animal Crossing and sexting each other, as God intended.

As a commuter, I have to commend the maturity of children on San Francisco’s rapid transit system. They mostly don’t launch themselves through the bus windows when the driver hits the breaks to avoid pulping some pot-addled cyclist who got confused about the whole “red = stop” thing. Nor do they get caught recycling the old gum that is often deposited on the undersides of the bus’s seats. I’m not saying that they don’t do that: but I’ve never seen one do it, so either way my hat’s off to ‘em**.

See? See?

See? See?

There are two types of children riding the bus in San Francisco: those I don’t notice and those I want to kill. The first group includes kids who are busily sexting or playing Animal Crossing or torturing their siblings or parents and not delaying the bus’s progress. Love them. The other group consists of kids who have tantrums, who block the bus aisle, or who in some way seek to interact with me. They should all be sent to secret ninja school on another continent.

The most terrifying kids are the toddlers standing in their mother’s laps in the seat in front of me. Having not yet been taught to be paranoidly wary of strangers, they peep over their mom’s shoulders directly into my eyes, often with this look of unutterable horror on their faces, as if I’m one of those sanity-curdling Lovecraftian monsters who has just come bubbling up from hell to eat their li’l souls.

What can I say to these kids to make them less appalled? “It’s all right, dear: I’m not a pervert” seems like it might cause more problems than it solves. “Gootchy-gootchy goo?” I think not. Do I say, “What a little sweetheart” while tousling their heads? Hell, I’ve never tousled my wife’s head; I’ll be damned if I’m going to tousle some booger-ridden strange kid’s greasy noggin. Ain’t happening, Little Timmy. Go fall down a well somewhere

So instead I do what everybody else does. I fiddle with my electronic gadgets and never, ever look up to make eye contact with anybody. Which is why, Honey, I need a new Nintendo 3Ds so I can play  Animal Crossing. It’s either that or sexting.


*At least not by adults.

** I would totally get caught. I always did.


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2 Responses to “Child’s Play”

  1. Michelle Menard Says:

    One of your finer pieces, sir. 🙂

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