Monday, August 28, 2006

The modern tricycle is an irksome machine, reminding me of everything that's wrong with today's version of 'childhood'. The tricycle I remember was a 3-wheeled, muscle-powered vehicle that transported a kid to wherever his imagination took him. Today's new-fangled contraptions come with an added innovation: the adult supervisory steering (ASS) handle, which sticks out from behind the rider's seat for a parent to grab onto and literally become the back-seat driver. As if parents these days don't have enough methods of pushing their kids around, as it is.

Sure, the parent doesn't have to hold onto the control stick, but I would think that such a device ought to be an opt-in choice rather than an opt-out one. If parents want such exclusive control, the onus should be on them to bolt on the device themselves rather than making it the default option. After all, who's riding the trike, anyway?

Fine, it's safer, 'cos who knows what horrific accidents a kid might cause if he's left pedalling by himself? Who wants to risk a civil lawsuit on grounds of parental neglience by failing to prevent junior from bringing down a telephone pole, thus causing communication outages in several sections of the neighbourhood?

But that's just it, isn't it? Childhood has become too 'safe' for society's good. From the cleanliness and sterile hygiene of infancy, to the padded surface of the standards committee certified-safe playground, to the educational safety-nets parents tend to over-provide for their growing offspring, everything about childhood is designed to enhance the viability of each individual child to employable maturity.

Is it any wonder, then, that we're having a Great Baby Shortage? With the chances of each child making it to adulthood so high these days, we don't see the need for multiple redundancies any longer. Back in the days when Safety didn't feature so much, attrition compelled us to lay our genetic eggs in as many baskets as possible. John got smallpox and died; Mary fell off a cliff and died; a mammoth stampede killed Jason; Steve got impaled with a spear in the... (ahem) wars against the Medes and is, um... not likely to bear any offspring as a result; Thomas got sacrificed to the gods for a good harvest next year; and Graargh, the Sabretooth, happily dined on Heather last weekend; leaving only Harold and Sally to carry on the family name. Two replacing two, if we were so lucky.

These days, we see that kids are so gonna make it into adulthood that we don't mind that they're other people's kids. We don't want or need our own since we're already assured that our species will go on at least till the next generation, so hey, why bother? Other parents' bundles of joy are our bundles of joy, minus the bonus of soiled diapers and screaming competitions that we really can do without.

What then do we have to do to increase the number of babies born to our populace? It isn't the money, it isn't the time, it isn't the selfish attitudes of our young adults. There simply isn't the biological incentive to make more copies of ourselves than absolutely necessary.

So what do we have to do? Remove the control handle on the tricycle, for a start. Remove the safety standards from our playgrounds. Let kids eat the dirt and crap they prefer to their sanitized processed foods. Let them play with other kids and risk grevious bodily harm as they rough-house each other. When the mortality rate gets high enough, we will compensate biologically. It's only mathematics, after all.

Forgive me. After a couple of lean, uninspired days, we get this sewage overflow.

No comments: