I Believe The Children Are Our Future, Feed Them Well, And Then Throw A Donner Party Later On…

Apr 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Prose

There was a pivotal point in my life where I realized that not all compliments were sincere, and often were people just shining sunlight up my ass for the social convention of “just being nice.” My mom would be the first to unintentionally reveal this. She was a very nurturing person, who consistently took me to various museums, and fed my creative tendencies with arts and crafts projects. These activities would in turn keep me out of her hair, while forcing me to be both creative and constructive. It really was a win-win situation for her. It was, however, during one of these creative endeavors involving Sculpey, where the horrible truth would be revealed me.

I decided to make a dragon and for his eyes I would use marbles. It would be the avatar of “awesome” in its most base, physical form (at least for a twelve year old me)!

However, by the time I was done, it looked like shit. I knew it. My mom apparently had forgotten to look, but said something along the lines “I love it, it looks wonderful” before going back to her happy place.

All these years of putting my drawings and crayon colored pictures washed over with watercolors up on the fridge.

All the years of my making pots, which now looked like someone took a pile of cow dung, made a depression in it, and then painted it with colors that would make even Lisa Frank scream in terror.

All the “art” that would make even the hipster Dadaists’ fecal matter on paper plates, drizzled with semen, and garnished with a dollar bill made to look like a sprig of parsley look like meaningful contributions to culture by comparison…

All of the compliments that went with them…

They were lies.

I felt… betrayed.

To my credit, I was one of the more decent artists in my elementary school, something that would serve me well when I was asked to be in my town’s elementary school art contest as an attempt to boost self-esteem (we won, but only because our work was an original beach scene, while the other competitors drew Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario… I shit you not). Still I was not happy with the final product.

“Why did we draw the sun? You’re never supposed to draw the sun! Birds don’t look like the McDonald’s symbol!! The beach ball doesn’t have a shadow! Clearly if the sun is out, it should have one!”

I was ruined. The lack of constructive criticism fed by an overwhelming urge to nurture the inner Michelangelo via forced compliments killed any sort of trust I would have in whatever positive things anyone would have to say. For fear of being disillusioned by the quality of my own products, and not wanting to expose the world to my crap, I became both jaded to any compliments and critical of my own work. Just poke through Etsy, or other Arts n’ Crap shows, and wonder in silence at how some of this stuff was deemed sellable, much less show-worthy.

Now I’m not saying ALL positive feedback is crap, but there is a point where some honesty is needed.

Case in point, the following child:


This German 13-year-old is one feisty mofo. He runs his own organization to repopulate the planet with trees, and his organization only has one agenda: “taking adults to task for their lack of action on planting trees.”

Yes, let me quit my day job and go plant trees on property I don’t own. Let me plant a tree in an urban setting that will probably be demolished by local gang activity. I’ll get right on that… after I pay off school loans… rent… utilities… car payments… clean up my domicile…buy groceries… no, no, it’s on my list… somewhere… probably after the nap, and instilling goodwill and world peace into my fellow man–

–with a bat.

I think what gets me most though, is his snotty, little quip “We children understand that the adults know everything about these crises, but we children don’t understand why there’s so little action.”

Maybe because we’re too busy worrying about more domestic matters like rising gas costs and taxes, politics, and keeping our jobs, so we can feed and clothe ignorant children such as yourself that we, for whatever reason, decided to have via procreation or adoption. Maybe that’s why we’re not as concerned with planting trees. Go back to playing with your BRIO train set. It’s made from trees!

Trees planted by a former child tree ambassador!

My favorite line so far though is his saying that he “believes this tree crusade can only be successful if it is led by children.”

The last time children led a crusade they were sold into slavery, which isn’t too far from the case here. With “100,000 children participating in 91 countries with 3.5 million trees planted,” that’s a lot of free labor that we didn’t have to pay day-workers for, and many working hours that were spent keeping their grubby little hands busy and out of trouble.

I have to wonder what percentage of these 100k kids “participating” were doing so because their school told them to, perhaps by force, or by gift-wrapping the labor as a fun project (another thing I learned to see through at an early age; Bullshit). Still, it must be nice for the teachers. They get to help the environment by subjecting their students to manual labor, and if they’re really lucky, some of the students might fight over who gets to be the honorary hole-digger!

On second thought, this kid could be onto something.

Just like we have inmates cleaning up litter on the sides of the roads, we can have juvenile delinquents planting trees.

While I’m not completely heartless and I do applaud his willingness to do something other than play video games, that’s both ideologically beneficial and morally good, I’m wondering why anyone hasn’t brought this kid up to speed with reality? I’m sure a few years down the line, he’ll turn into professional arborist at best, a tree hugging hippy with granola dreams at worst, or another burned out apathetic adult.

But I suppose that all depends on the level of cynicism that reality eventually beats into all of us over time…

Join me next time as write about a 10-year-old fashion prodigy, and why I want Tim Gunn to give her the Project Runway treatment, and Anna Wintour to show her new fashionable ways to wear a belt around one’s neck.

Disclaimer: I do love children, I really do, but I love good parenting more. This means you are able to deal with your kid as best as possible in public (if your child screams for more than a minute, I will take a picture of it and post them on www.annoying-kids-and-the-parents-who-won’t-remove-them-for-an-attitude-adjustment.com), and also keeping them out of the public eye unless they are an actual prodigy, and not just packaged that way as a method of parents to unfairly achieve some level of fame by (I’m staring at you balloon boy parents) shamefully using their spawn.

Steve Elkam really does love children. Preferably with a side of fries.


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