“Litter,” by Patricia Mitchell

Jun 23rd, 2010 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

At the risk of sounding like a bitter, barren old shrew, your kids aren’t that cute.  I can tell by the way you’re smiling and applauding them that this is their first time throwing their own garbage away in a public trashcan, but I don’t need to be a part of this milestone in your child’s life.  Please save the lessons and the exercises for home or the classroom and keep them out of my local Panera.  You probably think that their emotional, mental, and psychological development require an audience or some standing ovation, but I shouldn’t have to participate in the façade.  I have trash, too, and unlike your children, I know exactly where it goes and I have the advanced motor skills to get it there.  Because it’s not socially acceptable for me to push your children out of the way, I implore you–please lead them by their tiny, pudgy, recently-sanitized hands out of the Panera and back into your Yukon or Suburban or whatever SUV you feel disguises the minivan-essence of your domestic existence.  And may God save us both if you parked next to me.

I know Hillary Rodham Clinton penned a popular document entitled It Takes a Village, but you should know that was just a book, not a bill she submitted to Congress.  I don’t subscribe to this philosophy.  I think if it only took you and your partner to conceive the child, it should only take you to raise it.  I didn’t get to have the orgasm (or at the very least a cessation of loneliness), why am I stuck with the child?

I know what you’re thinking–that I’m just some misanthrope who hates kids.  It certainly helps that my womb is empty; the organ is mostly decorative.  Still I do not indiscriminately despise kids.  I devoted my Wednesday nights to the single season of the CBS series Kid Nation, but you’re highly mistaken if you think your spawns are of Kid Nation stock.  Those minors established a government in the desert, killed chickens, and made each other feel better, quite a bit more than dropping a napkin into a receptacle.  They accomplished such feats in their diapers, they cut their own umbilical cords, and most importantly, they had the kind of parents with the discretion to ship them off to an adult-less region of the country.  I had the option of tuning in, rather than having the spectacle forced on me.  Here you are, staging your little production in such a way that you simultaneously block the trashcan and the exit.  You have to know.

Yet you look at me with that smile and that twinkle in your eye like you think I’m in on it with you, like we’re both humoring these sweet, innocent minds.  I am not your accomplice; if it were the proper season, I would passive aggressively remark on the fictitious nature of Santa Claus.  Then I might twinkle back at you.  In fact if you want me to offer any applause for your children’s most recent accomplishment of food-wrapper disposal, expect nothing more than a slow, sarcastic clap accompanied by a cold, derisive expression.  That’s the kind of first I want to be a part of.

I’m sure you’ll say, “We have to teach them, love them, nurture them because they’re the next generation of leaders.”  Take a look at our current generation of leaders; it’s not exactly an investment that inspires confidence.  You might even point out that I’ll be dependent on these children when I’m old and infirm, but considering most of my peers are still living at home, playing Xbox and sucking the life out of their parents, I’m not exactly counting on the next generation which will likely have more distracting and enthralling consoles.  You may demand, you may cry out: What about posterity?  To which I will ask, in the words of Grouch Marx: “What’s posterity ever done for me?”


Patricia Mitchell did not realize how boring she was until she had to write a biography of herself.  She thanks Defenestration for inflicting this painful truth on her fragile ego.  Her work appears on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency.

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