Monday, August 18, 2003

Appropos of nothing: I was reading a book this weekend and the author wrote this line: "The nineteenth century created children." I re-read it again, and thought about it - and by jove, he's right. I mean, this isn't something new per se, but I had not really thought about it. It became particularly resonant for me as I sat on the beach watching the hundreds of children play in the water, eat ice cream, throw temper tantrums, and in general, get treated like little Pashas. Before the industrial revolution, children existed to (a) carry on the family name, and (b) provide cheap labor on the family farm, or maybe in the family shop. Children learned (meaning book learnin'), if at all, at the home, or maybe at the community church. Then, cities began centralize the means of production, and all of the sudden, children went from working on the family spread, to leaving the family cold-water walk-up, which housed three generations, and went to earn their $.015 daily wage at the nearby industrial loom. Of course we're all familiar with the child labor movements which decried the horrible conditions that children had to work in. Well, the little buggers have been coddled ever since, and now we (adults) spend every waking moment ensuring that our children's psyches are not damaged by a harsh word, tug on the wrist, or non-politically correct book.

We have subjugated ourselves to them willingly. I'm not saying that 8 year-olds should be tanning hides for a living, but we really have lost a sense of proportion. Holidays, after-school - it's all about their horizons being expanded while we find creative ways to have dinners with our spouses twice a month. I'm not sure we haven't gone too far in the other direction. Now back to your regularly-scheduled programming.

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