Children Bore Me
I talked a bit on Twitter this week about how I’m not a huge fan of small children, but they sure as hell seem to like me. And the kids that don’t? It’s always a bit weird, but I don’t take it personally.
Tip: if your kid seems wary of me or of any other grown person, don’t make them hug us or have physical contact with us. It’s one of those things that Millennials talk about (at which others roll their eyes) that has real merit. Teach your kid to trust their instincts and set their own boundaries. Hugging Aunt Helen does nothing for her but does active harm to your kid. Aunt Helen can fucking deal with it. She’s grown – allegedly. And if she’s not? That’s her problem.
Anyway. We have a group thread going and occasionally we get “your daily dose of cute!” texts from a friend – a lovely person in many ways – who has a kiddo, and today it really hit a nerve. This happened after the Twitter thread mentioned above, of course.
- Your kid is not cute in that photo. They’re standing in the middle of a pile of kid bullshit (toys, mess, etc.) looking like a deranged raptor, they’re out of focus and the lighting is terrible.
- This isn’t my definition of cute, by any means, so the saccharine heading means we’re starting at a deficit.
- I’m sorry you had to parent all day, but please don’t rope me into it.
My reaction has less to do with any disdain I hold for this particular kid, though she doesn’t really register to me in the same way other kids do. She’s a bit of a non-entity, and while I’m not so callous as to write off a 3-year-old, I also don’t disregard my instincts. She’s already able to derail and manipulate attention paid to others for her gain, and that’s something to watch as she gets older.
My reaction is really spurred by the forced (and enforced) cheer in this whole interaction. The deranged tone of it all. The coos from the other participants. I’ve been corralled into this “community baby” in phrasing if not in current reality, given COVID-19, but the smug assumption that I’ll be there for the kid that you decided to have grates on me.
And that gets to what I was talking about: the weird objectification of children we have in our culture, and how that can manifest as anything from Instagramming the shit out of your unsuspecting child to this nauseating hippie concept of a baby raised by many. The way we raise by committee in this country (as white people) is largely performative.
Side note: I definitely got wrecked at a wedding last year and stopped to talk to a few pagan friends of the groom. Brimming with boozy confidence, I uttered the single most dick-ish thing I’ve ever said out loud to another human being: “Well, I’m actually more of a chaos magician.” Ugh. However, their teenage son later topped my wankery when he snidely informed me that a story he told was, in fact, a parable. It wasn’t. Further proof that side-shaves shouldn’t be given out indiscriminately, I suppose. Self included.
I wasn’t joking when I said my wheelhouse is older kids (previous example notwithstanding,) because I remember vividly what it was like to be teeming with hormones, completely mired in my own bullshit but not really given the space to process that without expectations or ulterior motives. Still, I don’t baby babies or small kids. I talk to them like they’re adults. I model compassion and patience when I need to, but set boundaries when I don’t. I laugh at them and with them, depending on when each is appropriate. I’m not enamored with the concept of your child. Your kid does not get to command attention merely by being in proximity to me.
I don’t buy the whole innocence worship. It feels parasitical. Genuine joy, communal joy, does happen, don’t get me wrong. But if your kid’s over in the corner scraping dirt off the pavement with a battered carrot stick and putting it in their mouth, there’s not much about that scenario I actively care about. And I do not find it charming. And I do not understand why we must stop what we’re doing and obsess over it as a group.
Call me a curmudgeon or barren or bitter or whatever you want, but these experiences sour me on child interactions. Not in their mere existence – they can’t help it, and they sure as hell didn’t ask to be born – but in the way their parents prop them up and parade them about. That can happen in all kinds of ways, from the inattention given to bad behavior to the tight control and curation of their existence. Your kid is not my responsibility.
So when I say I don’t care for small children, what I likely mean is that I really don’t care for most parents of small children. Make of that what you will.
You Know What I Do Like? Vampire Show
What We Do In The Shadows is a goddamn triumph. Nadja is my favorite but I love everyone, and every time I think the show can’t pull anything else out of the bag, it surprises me. We’ve had serious vampire fiction and lore done to death, but everything’s been Whedon-ed out so much in media that there’s very little room for true absurdity. WWDITS relies on fast-paced dialogue, yes, but it also dives head first into its own absurdity and mucks around with unabashed delight.
The show’s whole-hearted. It can be cruel sometimes, yes, but the through line is an invitation to commiserate at its most dark and celebrate at its most light. It’s fucking hilarious, campy and utterly enjoyable. The range of guest stars should indicate to everyone who’s not on board yet that this thing is fun as hell – and I sincerely hope it’s as fun to make as it is to watch. You root for Nandor, Lazlo and Nadja, in all of their clueless antics. Matt Berry’s delivery is impeccable. Kayan Novak can do an phenomenal straight man, and his bewilderment is cringe-worthy and charming at once. Natasia Demetriou’s inventive cussing and inflection slay me. Mark Proksch can deadpan like no one else, and his “feeding face” makes me laugh every time. And Harvey Guillén’s journey from weary whipping boy to frustrated, embodied familiar is achingly real as much as his asides are riotously funny.
I did not expect this thing to be at all on par with the film (which I also love,) but it’s entirely its own and a lovely reminder that good things exist. I’m so pleased I can have my multi-colored lighting schemes and my humor and play at the same time.
Please watch this absolute joy. It’s something I gleefully foist on everyone I know, and I don’t feel that way about most media these days. It’s nice to have that enthusiasm glow again.