Friday, 9 July 2010

The little darlings

I'm not a parent, perhaps mercifully ("Shut up, and eat your Guardian"), but even a neutral observer like me is surely right to despair confronted with the kind of parenting that passes as acceptable;

item 1: little girl wearing a t-shirt bearing the legend 'born to be bored'. The poor child. She wasn't born to be bored - you earn that by getting a job, much later. In the meantime, why not try to amuse and educate your kids? Unless, of course, this was a subversive existentialist statement, and the pink colour referred to the inevitable gender-stereotyping which leaves girls to play with dolls and keep house.

item 2: the local paper declares that not only are kids going to a 'prom', as though this is somewhere in Nebraska, but that one child's parents are sending her there in a helicopter, because nothing spreads love like massively polluting your home town, scaring everyone's pets and deafening the neighbours in the pursuit of making your friends jealous. The child isn't to blame - she's a product of her disgusting, arrogant, selfish parents.

One disgusting peddler of pollution says this:
Your school prom is your last chance to make an impression on your classmates and one of your last chances to enjoy that magical feeling of being on top of the world with the rest of your life in front of you and endless possibilities open to you.

Yes, that's right kids. Rub your friends' and teachers' faces in this because let's face it, your parents are richer than they are, and life's shit from now on.
Not only will people have to look twice when you show them your pics

That's right. In twenty years' time when you've run out of conversation, you can show your golfing 'friends' pictures of your last day at school, and they'll be really, really impressed because you had rich selfish parents.

Not only that:
Plus, a helicopter does not seat upwards of ten or twenty people like many party bus limousines your friends will be hiring for their prom night. Therefore, you and your date have the chance to enjoy each other’s company and your special prom night flight without any interruptions. 

What they're really saying is: 'You're legal. Get pissed. Join the mile-high club. Not even your parents can stop you from way down there'.

Though there may be another option for your special prom night flight, another aspect of the American school experience is hinted at here:
So what better way to capture that feeling of being on top of the world, and go out on a high, than to arrive at your school prom in a helicopter?
you’ll also have the opportunity to take some shots of your home, your town and even your classmates, from on high.

Shades of Vietnam shot through with any one of a number of high school massacres… They've already explicitly said that this is the high point of your life. If school's been rubbish, why not approach the Prom Night with Death From Above in mind? You could play Ride of the Valkyries while taking 'some shots'.

It's enough to make me acquire ground-to-air missiles.


Connie said...

Mmm. Are we maybe being a tad touchy? I'm sure every parent has experienced, while trying desperately to stimulate and amuse their child, the extremely irritating, ''I'm bored!' emitted in a nasal whine from their little Verruca Salt. Could the T-shirt have been suggesting that no matter what the parents did, the child would still moan about being bored?

And when this little sweetheart reaches puberty, she'll no doubt adopt that other staple phrase, 'I hate you!' to regale her parents with. (Though never the grandparents. Grandparents and grandchildren remain saccharine sweet with each other, much to the frustration of the parents.) This particular expression would be devastating were it not for the fact that parents are so resigned to only hearing grunts from their teenagers that any utterances of genuine words, nay sentences, reassure them that their kids are still human.

Connie said...

Just an aside though, re gender stereotyping. I met a lovely 15 year old girl today, doing two weeks' work experience, arranged by her school. After completing her A levels, she wishes to pursue a career as a barrister. She said this had been her dream since early childhood. So what work experience had her school arranged? A week in Dorothy Perkins and a week in a beauty salon. And, bless her, she didn't grunt once!

Benjamin Judge said...

Ah Blossom, you beat me to the comment box. You are completely right the war cry of "I'm Boooooorred! is a familiar sound to nearly all parents (and I don't need to be one to know that) Vole obviously missed a meeting on that one.

It doesn't matter how good a parent you are, children have short attention spans and big imaginations and it can be hard work to keep up with them.

As for the 'prom' thing Vole you are right on the money. The ease with which this horrific conformist fertility rite has passed into the British consciousness is scary.

What is most infuriating about it is that it has nothing to do with children and everything to do with money.

Although if you are looking for someone to blame for the rise of the prom then look no further than the British film industry (and its backers) who have not provided an alternative to the American teen movie.

Perhaps making all ten year olds watch Carrie would scar them enough to put them off proms?

Now that is good parenting.

The Plashing Vole said...

You're both utterly right.
On the careers thing, I know an extremely bright young woman who is now a fairly senior academic with loads of academic papers to her name as well as a PhD. When she met the careers adviser at the age of 15 and announced that she intended to do A-levels, the mentor repeatedly pressed her to do 'hair and beauty' instead. The arse.

On a related note, a brewer I met told me this story: the J. D. Wetherspoon pub chain is named after the teacher (at Eton) who told its owners that they'd never amount to anything. Now that's what I call revenge!