OK, Worldwide Web. Today we are going to just take this parenting situation apart and clean its clock.
As you have probably already guessed, my medical expertise is a bit limited. However, my medicalizational advice is top-notch. And today I am going to turn the gigantic, klieg-light power of my fake-doctor brain onto children, so we can finally, at last, know what we are dealing with, with these small humans, who we are supposed to take care of all day long for years on end. Remember that old saw, “Know Thy Enemy?” Well this is sort of like that, except your kid is not your enemy, he/she is the tiny, little love-of-your-life. But you know what I mean.
This is a tall order, and nothing that any run-of-the-mill, inexperienced, fake-doctor should attempt. You know how the fake-magical person David Blaine trains for months and months before he goes and, say, sits in a glass box in the air over London without food, water, a potty, or World of Warcraft? And how he hangs out up there having mystical visions about how the world is filled with love while people throw cheeseburgers at his box, and he later tries to transcribe these visions, but can’t?
This column is kind of like that, by which I mean, if I can actually manage it, right here in these little, black-and-white marks, to communicate in a clear and understandable manner what we are dealing with when we deal with children, I will pretty much have given you everything you need to know about raising your child for ever and ever, which is about how long it takes to raise a child these days, it seems; and then if you happen to see my old fraternity bro Dr. Sears, on, like, the Hertz shuttle bus at the airport, you can just take that motherfucker down with all the info you are going to have over him. Tell him “Dr.” Fusselman says: attach that, my friend.
OK, so let’s begin. First of all, the most important thing to remember about children, should you just happen to be around them every single second of your life, is that they do not think like you. They literally have different consciousnesses. How do I know this? I know this because of the incontrovertible medicalizational fact that wormholes exist for children and not for grown ups.
Let us pause for a moment here to admire the wormhole of Hans Buetow, from St. Paul, Minnesota:
“At about 7 or 8 I had to learn as much trivia as I possibly could, because one day I might be on a train with terrorists running a bomb into the city, and the only way they’d call off their plan is if I could correctly answer a series of trivia questions. As a civic-minded hero, it became my duty to prepare, as I didn’t know what the questions might be.”
Wormholes, people. I am telling you.
In our society, adult humans who perceive wormholes as regularly and powerfully as children perceive them can generally be found in a facility where they are attended by nurses and/or security guards. This is why you are tired all the time, parents. You are a nurse/guard to a tiny wacko. But you already knew that.
We know all sorts of stuff in this world—stuff like what kind of garbage to put in the blue can, and what kind of garbage to put in the black bag, and that Jaromir Jagr has the most genius name of any pro athlete of all time except maybe D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Why don’t we know more about how children perceive the world? Wouldn’t it be helpful if we could map the psychological landscape of children, to break down and systematize the ways in which children think differently from adults, so we could figure out better ways to interact with them?
I don’t know. Maybe that’s asking for too much. We’ve come so far, armed with our simple but trustworthy parenting trinity of bribery, threats, and yelling. Do we really want to open ourselves up to try anything new?
OK, this is scary. Let’s think about something else for a minute. Do you like money? Then I have something to run by you, worldwide web: a business proposition. Now, I live in New York City, so I am going to be speaking about New York, but this could just as easily apply to anywhere else. It’s like, the first McDonald’s opened in California, but is McDonald’s only in California now? Nyet.
So here is my proposition. As I said, I live in New York, one of the greatest cities in the world. But you know what would bump it up from being a city that everyone wants to visit to The Best Place in the Universe, bar none? A big, fat mess of love hotels.
C’mon, parents, you know it’s true. When you have date night, do you really want to go out to sit and eat food? I don’t care how melty the cheese is, I don’t care how hard it was to get a reservation, it does not compare with checking into a nice, clean, discreet hotel, like the ones they have in Tokyo, where you can go in for a couple hours and… love.
Listen, the fact is, when you have a spare twenty minutes without a child hanging on you, you do not want to spend it sitting in a chair with a calm body. You want to do something slightly more barbaric, and you want to do that something in a nice, clean, place, with a quality bed, soft sheets, and, if possible, a karaoke machine, a disco ball, and a luxurious bathroom with excellent water pressure. And you know who could put that shit together in a New York minute? New York City-ites, that’s who.
We built the goddamned High Line, which is a work of flat-out genius, and we put all these bike lanes down 9th Avenue, and we have trucks selling insanely weird, artisanal snacks every 25 feet and we cannot get one, respectable, nice-smelling love hotel built around here? What is wrong with us?!
Because I am telling you: if we get enough love hotels in this town, it is going to put this whole parenting thing in perspective. Baby won’t sleep? Love hotel. Toddler won’t give up the paci? Love hotel. Child can’t get into private school? You got it: love hotel.
This is not even some, big, fancy answer I am trying to sell you on, friends. Because you know what you can get really easily in a town of eight million people? You can get a perfectly nice, law-abiding, undrunk adult to babysit your kids for 2 hours for cheap. And you know what you can do in two hours? Yes, you do.
And you know what is perfect about this idea? If there is one thing we are really good at around here, it is building stuff. We build stuff ALL THE TIME. West side, east side, uptown, downtown, always with the cement trucks, the scaffolding, the workmen, the jackhammers, and the cranes. Do I have to shout it out now? Let’s make this town the Empire it was meant to be and THROW UP SOME GODDAMNED LOVE HOTELS.
Anyone who wants to jump on my love hotel plan, email me. Because this is a major untapped market here, and I am on a total campaign.
OK, now where were we? Oh yeah. A child’s psyche.
A child’s psyche has four elements. I know this because the world has four: there are four elements, four directions, the Fab Four, four letters in NSFW, and Blue “IV” Carter.
The tricky thing about dealing with the four elements of children’s thought, though, is that you have to remember that all the elements are intertwined. Breaking it down is like trying to separate and analyze all the components of snot in a Kleenex. But we are not easily discouraged from difficult tasks, so let’s go.
OK. Are you ready? The four elements of the child psyche, in no particular order, are:
1. Joseph Beuys
You know Beuys’ 1965 masterpiece, How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare? Where he walked around a Dusseldorf gallery with his head completely covered in honey and gold leaf, talking to the dead rabbit in his arms about the art that was hung on the walls? This is where children are coming from 99 percent of the time. In comparison, where are you coming from? From Duane Reade, with a little, white, environmentally-nightmarish plastic bag that contains a bottle of Head and Shoulders that you are psyched you got for ten percent off. You see the extent of the problem here, people? This makes international relations look like a cakewalk.
2. The Titanic
The Titanic already happened; that ship already sailed. Unless you are a child. If you are a child, then it is as if you are always watching a documentary about the Titanic, always witnessing the gorgeous, pristine, ship at the dock, appreciating its miraculous creation, cheering on the excited passengers who are boarding amidst the pomp and ceremony, at the same time that you know the tragic fate that awaits them, and not just this tragic fate, but every tragic fate, because you are aware that Titanics are everywhere all the time, that horrible accidents are like the percussion of the spheres, and you, with your steady diet of amoxicillin for your messed-up ear canals that get infected every fifteen minutes, you hear every cymbal clash and every tinkling cowbell of said spheres, and you know on a cellular level that accidental tragedies are always unfolding, like one, long, awful, beautiful, physical comedy masterwork that you were not that long ago pushed out of your Mom and into.
And you have an oceanful of compassion for the living things everywhere having accidents and mishaps all the time, and you have a great, inconsolable grief about it, because accidents happen, and you recognize it, and you also recognize that you can do nothing about it, nothing at all, and this is why, when you skin your knee, you weep not just for your knee, but all knees, and this is why, when we say, “Here, honey, here’s a Mickey Mouse band-aid, all better?” you weep louder.
You understand all this, you nutty child. And you will never, ever forget it, until you are a teenager, when the reality of accidents and death will completely be erased from your mind, and you will do unbelievable crazyass shit which we will not even discuss here because we don’t want to scare ourselves.
3. Secret Service
We can’t discuss this except to say that your child, who is hiding under the couch, in disguise, possesses incredibly sensitive, secret information. Now, go away.
4. Milky Way
Starburst, lollipops, Gummy bears, Pokemon, Bakugan, Nerds, Skittles, Lifesavers, Rolos, Moshi Monsters, Milk Duds, Minecraft, Legos, Star Wars, Yankees, Rangers, Krackel, Tootsie Rolls, Hot Wheels, Nerf, Polly Pocket, Fun Dip, M&Ms, Reese’s, Twizzlers, Raisinets, Harry Potter, Whoppers, Mike and Ike, Almond Joy, Calvin and Hobbes, Phineas and Ferb, Peanuts, Jolly Ranchers, Butterfingers, Hello Kitty, Dum Dums, Cinnamaroll, Kit Kat, Garfield, Now and Laters.
Now that you know these four elements, and you have this astonishing information, this road map, you may wonder what you are supposed to do with it. I will tell you: you are supposed to remember that anything you try to do in regards to your children has to take into account that they are coming from one of these four places, and you are not.
Unfortunately, there is not a lot you can do about this discrepancy except know that all the reasoning in the world is not going to bridge your differences, or make it any easier for you to get your child in their shoes and coat to get to school on time. Sorry.
The best thing you can do is to hug your child as much as possible, and say, “I know.” If you do that for ten years or so, things will probably easier.
Until next time,
PS. As a way to broaden and deepen my practice, I would like to begin taking your medicalizational questions. So please email me your most difficult, frustrating issues. If I can answer the question, I will. If I can’t, I will have my fabulous intern, Josh, email you a poem, which will surely guide you.