Saturday, November 20, 2010

There Should Be A License

I don't go fishing.  I've been invited, but I don't have a license and I refuse to buy one.
The whole concept for even needing one seems asinine to me.  I don't even own a pole.  I would have to borrow my son's who did spend money on a license to go stick a line in the public river to attract some freeloading puffer fish that someone else is going to have to take off the hook anyway and for that I need a license.  Gone are the days of simple family picnics at the river's edge where Dad spends all of his time baiting hooks and rescuing snagged fishing lines.  I won't do it.

"Why don't we take the kids fishing?"

"Because after we get the licenses, we can't afford bait."

"Why do we have those poles in the garage then?"

"It looks good to the neighbors when we open the garage door.  They'll think we're sporty."

"They know better.  They've seen you play catch with the boys."

I just don't get the need for a license to fish.  Is it like a driver's license where you study a book of stupid questions like, "What does the big red sign with the letters S-T-O-P mean”?  If it's not, it probably should be because then I would have known to just cut that stingray loose instead of reeling it in.

America has a license for everything and some of them even make sense.  Take the medical license, for instance.  This plaque on the wall tells everyone that the doctor has spent over a hundred grand on years of education and should know the difference between your navel and sphincter.  They are semi-qualified to charge you extortionist's rates to pay off their school loans and buy that yacht that I can't even afford to look at.

Then there are other licenses that are just so the government can charge you fifty bucks to issue you a piece of paper.  The hunting license comes to mind.  Now, this license doesn't necessarily mean you know how to shoot a gun, just that you have permission to aim it at something in the woods.  They don't require that you know how to load the gun or how to hold it.  They merely want your money and hope someone around you will be kind enough to teach you how not to kill anything but furry critters and empty cans.

And the list goes on.  You need a license to run a business, drive a car, steer a boat and even to preach.  There will be no standing behind the pulpit breathing fire and brimstone until Uncle Sam has his ticket price.  You even need a license to get married, which many people have to suffer long bouts of classes telling them how to survive living with each other once the honeymoon is over.  According to the newspaper the classes aren't working.

The only thing you don't need a license for is to be a parent and a trip to Wal Mart on Saturday will prove that this is sorely needed.  I was in the mood for something of an ice cream nature and wandered into Hell.  Walking down the frozen food aisle looking for my Rocket Pops a ten-year old kid who I at first thought had eaten all the ice cream was tossing one of those sticky gel hands against the glass.  He wasn't doing it easy either, but as if he was pitching in the World Series.  At first I did my best to ignore the rugrat, which his mother was achieving with excellence.  However, he was tossing it against the door were my Popsicles sat in expectation of being rescued.  I reached for the handle and he threw it again, barely missing me.  I glanced at the mother but she was deeply absorbed in fish sticks and obviously had forgotten that she had even brought the midget sumo wrestler with her.  So, I took the sticky toy and tossed it on top of the freezer.

"Oops," I said to the already pouty lipped kid as I grabbed my ice cream.

Children should come with duct tape.  So should most of the parents.  I think the rule should be that if you're not in control of your own life you should not be able to participate in the creation of life.  Having a baby is to take part in a miracle and some parents have barely managed breathing.  Of course, Wal Mart would probably go out of business but that's a plus not a negative.

The phrase "Kids will be kids" could very well be "Criminals will be criminals.”  Society has basic rules and if adults don't practice those rules they shouldn't be allowed to bring life into this world.  I've whittled the list down to what I think are four very simple rules that should be mastered before being issued a Parental License.

Rule #1 - Manners

I know, I know.  You would think that this simple little rule shouldn't even be a rule, but it's amazing how many rude people inhabit this planet.  And they don't even know their rude!  It's like stepping into a church where no one admits they're sinners.

I'm not even talking complicated physics type manners but more basic math level like don't interrupt me.  I hate when children just do that but it's even worse when adults do it.  I know what you have to say to you seems more important than the conversation I'm having but I assure you the apocalypse won't happen if you patiently wait for me to finish speaking.  I see you and I already assume that your standing beside me means you need something.  I'll get to you.  Be patient.  I've watched CSI and I know you won't die of thirst or starvation within the two minutes it takes me to finish this conversation.  Of course, I can't promise safe results if you keep interrupting me.

Teach your children simple words like "Thank you", "Please", "Sir", and "Ma'am".  Believe it or not those words of common courtesy in an uncommonly rude society will get the child farther than permitting "Hey, Dude" to be their greeting of choice.  A notice to adults:  Do not tell my kids not to call you "Sir" or "Ma'am".  It is not a sign that you're old, but that they've learned to respect others.

Teach them how to talk to other people.  Young children using four letter words are not funny or cute and the parent should be spanked.  I had a family member who thought those words were funny.  "Don't stifle his freedom of expression.  The fewer rules the more they can explore.”  See this person needed their Parental License revoked.  When we were at a family gathering and it came time to go I looked at Char and said, "Let's gather up the munchkins and head home.  It's getting late."

This tyrant in a six-year old body looked at me and told me to "Shut the hell up."

With a smile on my face and a whisper, I leaned down and told the sweet, freely expressing himself child, "I'm not your mother or father.  I'll kill you.” And from then on I got a "Yes, Sir.”  Of course, his mother was always told to shut the hell up but that was the bed she made.

Rule #2 - Respect

This does seem similar to manners but for me it goes deeper.  Teach the child to respect themselves and they will then have respect for others.  You are a walking miracle and while you are not owed anything in this life, you are worth a great deal.

Teach your child to respect others - their person, their position and their stuff.  The media and grandparents may tell you you're far superior to anyone else, but you're not.  We are all equal in standing and deserve the same respect.

The touching of people's stuff is a pet peeve of mine.  My mother never "child-proofed" her house and neither have I.  Kids will be curious.  Let them touch and feel and explore.  Then, put it back on the shelf and say, "Now you've touched it.  Leave it alone if you like your fingers.”

And I know people snoop in medicine cabinets, which is why I put the Hartz worm medicine next to the Neosporin.  It gives people something to ponder.  But stay out of my drawers and my closets.  I don't jump up and down on my bed and neither should your child.  If you can't control them, I will and you'll have to deal with the duct tape residue.

Rule #3 - Hygiene

In order to get the Parental License you must bathe and know how to do laundry. Mom used to say that the cheapest two things in the world were soap and water.  Of course, that was before Dollar Tree and now hundreds of items are merely a buck, even batteries that will last a whole day - or fifteen minutes, but I digress.

When I was three, we lived in Indianapolis and our neighbors had two children the same age as my sister and I.  One early morning, snow hiding an unkempt yard, the children squatted at the base of concrete steps.  Clothed only in dirty diapers, they devoured the remnants of a pie that they had pilfered from the kitchen while their parents slept.  They were dirty and starving.  Neglected, they did what animals would do and fed on what they could steal.

"I should take those kids and hide them in the basement," Mom said.  "Maybe it would scare some responsibility into that mother of theirs."  It wouldn’t have.  Some people just don’t get it.

I knew the kids as teens and they were turning out a lot like their parents.  The cycle sometimes merely continues without ever a turn for the better.

It amazes me how many people will play in dirt and then decide to go shopping.  At Wal Mart (I know.  It's a trend.), we came across a mother of six children and they looked as if they had crawled out of a cold fireplace.  Wash their face and hands at least before going out.  Run a comb through their hair.  Teach them.

But again, too many adults fail at this and wonder why I won't let their children sit on my couch.

Rule #4 - Control

Control your mouth, control your temper and for god's sake control your whining.  "No" means "No", not "Whine for twenty minutes and I'll give in.” If it's not going to work for me in the bedroom, it won't work for you in the toy store.

There's nothing worse than an ill placed temper tantrum by a four-year old who was just told he couldn't buy that six-shooter.  The kid only behaves that way because it's worked in the past.

"He gets like this.  I've learned that if you just ignore it, he'll stop eventually.” Meanwhile, customer service is calling for back up.

"I've learned that if you spank his ass once in awhile he won't do it at all."

Most of the time, however, it's the parents who need the spanking.

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