Grandma Had A Little Lamb

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Okay, I just heard my grandmother tell this stupid story about some lamb she had when she was younger for the fourth time today. As the story goes, if female lambs wouldn’t nurse by their mother, my grandmother got to keep them and nurse them along herself. Males, however, were sent to slaughter, so the story goes. Well, there was one lamb in particular that she quite liked. One day when she was in college she got a letter from her parents saying that they sent the lamb to slaughter and that it had fetched her $15. They also said that they were sorry, but it was the lamb’s time. The $15 was enclosed in the form of a cheque. Granted, the story is never the same twice. The general structure of the story stays the same, but the details seem to alter a little bit each time. Four times I’ve heard this story, and that’s just today. I’ve heard this story before innumerable times. People often tell me that I shouldn’t live in the past; at least now I know where I get it.

It seems that a majority of my grandmother’s stories are about sad or depressing things, or things that one would find morbidly interesting or disturbing. For example, she talks about all the animals she used to have on the farm when she was young that would get slaughtered. She also talks a lot about how her generation is dying. She told us a story that (to my surprise) I had never heard before about some guy her sister used to baby-sit who hung himself. I find it interesting that people are afraid of their children being exposed to violence when it’s so engrained in us as human beings. We’re naturally fascinated by the grotesque, the morbid, and the forbidden. The Romans, as you may well know, built huge arenas devoted to the slaughter of animals and humans. It’s something that we’ll never escape from as a species. Young boys get into fistfights in grade school every day. When I was younger, I got into such fights. I won some, I lost some, and all in all I’m glad I fought. It strengthens my case as a person who likes to solve situations without violence. Your case is always stronger if you have an understanding of the opposite side.

I fought when I was young and I hope, when I have kids that my boy will get into fights as well. I think that sort of thing keeps us grounded and reminds us that we’re not invincible. To try and shield your child from violence is pointless. There will always be violence in the world. I almost say, the sooner you expose them the better. I’m not saying that means it’s okay to shake your baby (Never shake a baby!), I’m just saying that while your kid learns the three R’s, that he should also be learning that the world is full of people who are not always nice and not always able to be trusted. If you can give your child the right amount of exposure =before= they’re thrown into the ring, they won’t be so shocked when they have to face the school bully, or when someone breaks a promise, or whatever it might be that challenges your child in the real world.

People claim they’re ‘protecting their child’ because they ‘love them too much to let them see something so barbaric.’ If you truly loved your child, you wouldn’t hide them from the world, rather you’d teach them the truth. People are =NOT= nice. People are =NOT= trustworthy. People are =NOT= inherently good. Everything will =NOT= just work itself out in the end. There’s so much that parents do wrong these days that does nothing but set their children up for failure later in life. Imagine how shocked your child will be when they get a job and someone expects something of them! I just don’t believe it will ever happen. My grandmother’s boyfriend (actually, I should say significant other. He’s not my grandfather and certainly not a life partner. She spent much more time with my grandfather while he was alive than she ever will with this guy) totally screwed up with his kid. Mike (the b/f) is probably about 80 years old now, and his son, Mike Jr., is at least 40. And where does Mike Jr. live? At Mike Sr.’s house in Seattle. Mike Sr. live in Honolulu with my grandmother, but still pays taxes on the house. What does Mike Jr. do to support himself? Mooch off of Mike Sr. That’s right, Mike Sr. pays for a good deal of Mike Jr.’s expenses. Folks, this man is 80 years old and his 40 year old son =still= lives at home and =still= doesn’t have a job. Mike Sr. won’t put his foot down, won’t sell the house, and won’t do anything about his boozer-loozer son. 40 years old, single, still living ‘at home,’ has no skills, and his only claim to fame is what very well may be the largest collection of Budweiser schwag =IN THE WORLD=. Yes, he spends what little money he can scrape together to buy Budweiser crap. While I’m sure the Budweiser Company has no problem with this, pretty much everyone else does. He’s even gone so far as to put a huge Budweiser sign above the front door. You know, the one that faces out into the neighborhood. It’s sick. It’s wrong. And Mike Sr. doesn’t like it. But his problem is that he’s spoiled his son and ‘loves him too much to do anything.’ What about his daughter? I’m sure she’s none to happy about her brother’s lack of independence. She’ll probably get gypped when Mike Sr. shoves off. He’ll probably split his possessions 50/50, which is misleading. If Mike Jr. gets 50% of Mike Sr.’s stuff, then he’s getting that 50% on top of the money and house and car, et cetera, that he’s already conned out of Mike Sr. His sister would only get 50% of what’s left. That’s not very fair if you ask me.

Anyway, my point is that Mike Sr. screwed up long ago, and now there’s nothing he can do to fix it. Raising a child is like training a dog, classical conditioning is your best bet and it’s important to get things right the first time. Dogs and children will test, so you have to live up to your promises and threats. If you saying you’re going to do something, you have to go through with it. Give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.

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1 Comment

  1. Reading back on that last paragraph, I want to point out that I’ve changed my opinion. Children should not be taught with classical conditioning. Doing so would create a two-dimensional personality. Orwell’s 1984 presented a society in which the government subjected the populace to classical conditioning. If you tell them that 2 + 2 = 5 long enough, they’ll start to believe it.

    What I now believe is that children should be taught using operant conditioning; a form of conditioning that provides four options (positive punishment, negative punishment, positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement) as opposed to two (punish and reward). Not every situation is going to be binary. For example, your child did the right thing (something deserving of praise), but she did it by doing something wrong (something deserving of punishment). How do you handle that kind of situation if you’re only allowed to reward her or punish her?

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