September 14, 2011

An announcement to kids everywhere

Attention children: We, the adults, have a confession to make. There’s no good way to cushion the blow, so we’re just going to come right out and say it: We’re totally making up everything on the fly. Sure, we act like we’ve got everything figured out. And we sometimes discipline you for breaking this rule or that one, but the truth is, we honestly have no idea what we’re doing. We’re just winging it.

We don’t really even want to be in charge. But somebody has to, and you’re so busy running around the yard naked and giving big, sloppy kisses to the dog that we didn’t want to bother you. (We can’t help it; it’s so cute when you do that!)

True, we do have some good ideas once in a while, like bubbles and ice cream, but mostly it’s just luck. To be honest, we have about a hundred really bad ideas for every good one we stumble upon. For every “indoor plumbing” or “act of loving kindness” we come up with, there are about a zillion wars, riots, assaults, hedge-fund fiascos and factory farms, not to even mention the countless gambling casinos with all-you-can-eat buffets, some of which actually have menus planned by Paula Deen! Ooo, that’s yuckie!

We guess it’s just human nature — OK, adult human nature — to come up with ideas and then run off headlong insisting they’re good ideas and then trying to convince everybody to believe in them and practice them and before you know it you’ve got millions of people subscribing to ideas some goober just sort of pulled out of his patootie like that tiny rubber ducky that was temporarily missing in the bathtub.

Sometimes, when we’re lucky, we have good ideas like books or drums or finger painting or freedom of speech or “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and sometimes we have bad ideas like fascism or golf, and sometimes our ideas are both good and bad like religion or french fries or Facebook.

But the point is, we don’t really know because we’re just making stuff up and running with it. Take God, for example. That’s one of those ideas people have been running with for several thousand years, even though nobody agrees exactly who or what God is and many adults like to fight about the subject. With real guns!

Aren’t grownups weird? Money is another one. Totally made up. Rip up a piece of paper and nobody bats an eye. But rip up one of Daddy’s $20 bills and you’ve earned an express ticket to Timeoutville!

Another doozy is drugs. We’re always telling you kids to say no to drugs, but good luck finding an adult who doesn’t fiddle with his or her brain chemistry. It’s our version of standing in place and spinning in circles.

The irony of having us in charge is that you kids seem to have a much better track record when it comes to good ideas. Being spontaneous, for example. Living in the moment. That’s something we adults have mostly forgotten how to do. We’re all up in our spreadsheets and calendars, and we’re always calculating our productivity and checking our bank balances.

And you know that way you kids actually like pretty much everybody, even those who watch a different TV network than you? So simple! We knew how to do that when we were kids, but we forgot how.

Your natural ability to truly feel empathy is also really sweet. You seem to feel genuine distress when another person or animal gets hurt, whereas we have whole television programs dedicated to showing people getting thwacked in their naughty parts!

Best of all is that you have such an honest, open candor, and don’t worry that asking a question or making an observation might make you seem uncool. Your frank truthfulness is so refreshing even if it’s not what everybody in the room wants to hear, such as that time at Christmas when you observed that “Grandma’s got a big ol’ butt.”

So think of this as our way of trying to emulate your candor: our bold admission that we are totally making it up as we go. We thought it was time you learned the truth.

We’re so glad we had this little talk. Now, we’re going to go run through the yard naked.