Posted by: laughs4dads | June 16, 2010

Why Child Abuse Is Unnecessary

Today, my Kids’ Safety Month series concludes with a look at the victims.

It occurs to me that babies must be very sad people.  I think that they spend their babyhoods in states of advanced depression.  I think this because, from what I’ve seen, they are very definitely suicidal.

Parents have enough to worry about, what with all the various potentially fatal children’s diseases, the Internet, strangers, product recalls and so forth.  Then there are the cheap toys that people give as gifts.  I don’t know why the people who give them are trying to murder our babies with playthings that can break into tiny consumable pieces, but, in support of my suicidal tendency theory, isn’t it true that these are always the toys our children adopt as their favorites even though we try to bribe them with very safe, very expensive replacements?  Nevertheless, it is our parental responsibility to remove these toys from our homes as soon as we can wrest them away from our babies and give them (the toys, not the babies) to charitable organizations that don’t care whether or not the things have been tested for safety by thirteen government organizations to make sure they (the toys, not the government organizations) won’t strangle, poison, stab or in some way mutilate children.

Okay, I accept that responsibility.  But I believe the least we can expect from our children is that they not go out of their ways to strangle, poison, stab or in some way mutilate themselves.  I mean, here we are, steadfastly protecting them from all the disasters looming in and from the outside world, and meanwhile they’re upstairs quietly putting their heads through the bars of their cribs and lynching themselves.

Why are they so self-destructive?

I know what you’re saying.  You’re saying, “Oh, they’re just babies.  They don’t know any better.”

Well it seems to me that it doesn’t take much in the way of smarts to realize that no possible good can come from leaping off a four-foot high dressing table.  Jeez, if humans represent evolution at its highest point, there should be a certain amount of innate survival instinct.  You don’t see baby birds plummeting out of their nests as soon as mommy’s back is turned, do you?

I remember when Casey was a baby, I came home from work one day to discover that my daughter had acquired a new facial feature, namely, a black eye.  I was about to make inquiries as to the name of the bully with whom Casey had gotten into a fight, so I could go over and nail him a good one, but Barbara immediately informed me that no altercation had been involved.  Rather, Casey had intelligently pulled a large electric heater (which, fortunately, had not been plugged in) onto her head.

I’m not sure what upset me most, the fact that:

a)she had come within a fraction of an inch of being blinded in one eye, or
b)her beautiful face had been temporarily marred, or
c)anyone seeing her would assume she was an abused child.

I mean, here was your stereotypical abused child sort of injury, and all we had was your stereotypical abused child sort of alibi.  (“Oh, sure,” I imagined the authorities saying, “an electric heater, huh?  And we suppose she has the bruise on her chin because she happened to dive into the bricks around the fireplace!”)

Well, how was I supposed to know my smart-as-a-whip daughter would mistake the fireplace for a swimming pool?  At that age, we couldn’t even get her to jump into an actual swimming pool, and here she was diving into the fireplace!

What the hell is the matter with these kids?

When Casey would get together with her friends, they looked like a fife and drum band from the revolutionary war.  Casts and Band-aids abounded to the point where they all looked like abused children.  And, of course, if you had to take them to the emergency room after they decided to do a gymnastics routine on the staircase, the nurses looked at you accusingly, like you were a mad drunk who knocked your kid around in a blind rage.

Here we were locking up our medicines so that we couldn’t even get to them; and not being able to plug in appliances because all the outlets had the prongs of outlet protectors broken off in them; and breaking our legs trying to step over gates intended to keep our kids from breaking their legs; and no one was protecting our children from their worst enemies: themselves.  I wanted to buy an entire football outfit made just for toddlers, complete with helmet and full padding. Or maybe one of those inflatable sumo outfits.

Probably the only thing that saves these kids from oblivion is that they heal so quickly.  Virtually the only first aid needed for any injury is a kiss on the maimed body part.  If this worked for adults, the health care crisis would be over, although TV shows like House would be boring. (“It doesn’t matter what’s wrong with him, Thirteen. Just kiss his liver and send him on his way.”)

Anyway, I just can’t figure out why children are so suicidal.  If anyone has a right to be suicidal, it’s us parents.  We have a lot more reason to be suicidal than children do.

We have our children, for one thing.

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