Children: Us vs. Them

This Sesame Street video, along with bringing a giant smile to my face, got me thinking about how we relate to kids. Young humans, not young goats.

It seems to me that our generation, by which I mean anybody under 50 right now in 2008, to a large extent loves to relate to children on a level that’s closer to a child’s perspective. Previous generations loved to relate to children at more of a remove, I think, at least they always struck me as more patronizing than we do these days, based on observation after and experience during my own childhood.

You could say that more of us these days refuse to grow up, but I think that’s bullshit. You can retain your sense of wonder, curiosity, love of simplicity and penchant for whimsy even as you hold down a steady job, buy a house, care about politics and the environment, and otherwise do all the adult things you must do to survive.

Some people, I think, would have us all behaving like characters out of either Little House on the Prairie or Mad Men. I hate Mad Men. To my sensibility there has never been a more depressing, black-hearted piece of television.

Certainly not everyone under 50 right now in 2008 behaves like this. There are plenty of traditionally-minded moms and dads and the whole gamut between There and Here, so don’t get me wrong. What I’m describing is more accurately visualized as a shift in the continuum, similar to the shift from Blue to Red and back again on a political map. If patronization is Red and camaraderie is Blue (my preferred reading of the situation) then the country seems to be shading a bit more to the bluish purple these days.

There have been articles about “the new parents” that seem to take a dim view of this trend, but there’s a difference between relating to children on their level and dressing your kid like a hipster, treating the child like a miniature version of your ideal self (which is just another form of Jon Benet-style perversity).

Basically, what I’m saying is, old people suck and should mind their own business.


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