Friday, 1 August 2008

Who's the daddy?

"The Child is father of the Man," Wordsworth declared in 1802, and we all agreed.

Since then children have been becoming more and more and more powerful.

Starting with this romantic concept that childhood experiences shape us for life, we have heaped growing importance, pressure and scrutiny on the little 'uns.

Thanks to this new improved childhood we've become terrified of the small tyrants who wield so much power in our culture.

If that sounds like an over-exaggeration ask yourself when was the last time you told a bunch of 10-year-olds on a train to turn their fit-inducing phone music down?

And why not? Because they might knife you. Because being perceived as a judgemental critic of someone else's parenting is now a social taboo. Or because a stranger talking to children is clearly a paedophile.

Either way, it boils down to the same thing: We're scared of children.

There's no doubt they now have the upper hand. We don't know what to do with them, or what to make of them - and they know it.

By giving those years so much significance we've distorted childhood beyond anyone's understanding - theirs, or ours.

Stars are no-longer real stars unless they started their career under the age of 18, see: Britney, Lindsay Lohan, Justin Timberlake, Miley Ray Cyrus, Peaches and Michael Jackson. A line-up in questionable mental health to say the very least.

We want them young forever, and we also want them looking like grown-ups - but paedophilia is definitely a bad, bad thing. No wonder everyone is confused.

Not only have we created some kind of sexualised pre-teen siren strain of child, we now need to woo them. That's because they're a market force of pester powering future consumers who brands need to seduce.

Then there's the matter of parenting. Children are tiny walking, talking status symbols - why else would Posh'n'Becks, Brangelina and even Jordan and Pete have so many of them?

But they need to be the whole package to carry real caché - which is possibly why kids in the UK consistently rank among the most stressed and depressed in the world.

In order to understand this childhood thing we've adopted a scientific approach which seems to have resulted in very little success. If you need proof of this then look no further than the fact that we test our children practically every year of their sad little lives.

We're obsessed by the idea of the child prodigy, as confirmed by the recent series of "Britain's Got Talent" which saw George Sampson, 14, Faryl Smith, 12 and Andrew Johnston, 13 dominate the show.

Even on the news agenda kids pack a punch rivalled by few adults - Madeleine McCann, Shannon Matthews and the Fritzl family all have a claim on the biggest news story of the last 12 months.

Perhaps this obsession with childhood, and our fear of its power, says much more about us than them. In other words: The only thing we're more scared of than the kids is getting old ourselves - last one to book a botox appointment's a loser!

1 comment:

Old Reprobate said...

Phew, petal... that's strong.... but soooo right! & who do we blame?.... For me it's the parents every time... but let's not forget Bob Dylan... who, in "The Times They Are a-Changing" reminds us...
"Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin"

... but even Mr Zimmerman could not have foreseen the ways in which the times [and children] would have changed!

The answer is quite simple... distrust all parents, assume they do not have the skills necessary to raise their brats and consign all such brats, from the age of 6 until 20, to an appropriate institution for them to be raised properly in the ways of society!

Excepting us, and like minded people of course, because we have been raised by loving parents to know what is what and right from wrong!

The old Reactionary Reprobate speaks!

And did you know that, in the early 20th century, a committee numbering among its members George Bernard Shaw, when asked by government to come up with a solution to the growing crime rate among the "underclass', recommended mass sterilisation! One is tempted to suggest that they had a valid point!... In my defence?... The mother and extended family of Shannon Matthews... nuff said!