Friday, July 07, 2006

Kids vs. Society - Part 2

A friendly nudge tells me it's been almost a month since my last blog.  'tis true, but not for lack of stuff to write.  In fact, I was writing away furiously after the first Kids vs. Society entry, then realized that my part 2 creation was rather angry, maybe too much so.

I took a step back and evaluated how I wanted to say my piece. My anger was directed towards irresponsible parenting.  Not being a parent myself, I figured my anger may be justified, but my judgement was not.  So I recanted myself and took a different approach, more opinionated and probably more accusatory but less judgemental. Parents will probably not like it.

But they shouldn’t take it personally.

We are railroaded into making stupid decisions that have insidious far reaching impacts every day. We are, of course, responsible for those decisions we make and even for those we avoid making! My current grief is that the influence to which we are subjected is never clear, never straightforward.

If the influences could be readily identified we would somehow be in a better position to cope, with less judgement.

Take for example, the daughter that accuses her mother of being selfish, and the subtending anger that comes with it. What she is really rebelling against is the power that her mother holds over her actions. Since the daughter is not clear on the matter and level of influence her mother wields, she gets justifiably angry and frustrated.

Whose fault is this? The mom has her own ideas and personality, and often the daughter has the same personality but different ideas, which is why mom and daughter clashes are legendary. What if the daughter saw these very traits, what if she realized the very nature of the influence?

Simple answer is that mom’s power would be tempered, to a point where the daughter would make her own call, with a better understanding of why she’s making it. Anger will be averted.

I think it is perfectly natural for a child to be angry with its parents. The frustration is learned at a very young age: “don’t do this, or that”, “do as I say”, “do as I say - not as I do”, “I am allowed because I’m a parent, you’re not.” Escalation is inevitable and the need for freedom grows as well.  Eventually kids want to leave the house, hate the power their parents have, and want to break free at all costs.

Then the kid starts making mistakes.  Some will extol the virtues of making one’s own mistakes in order to learn the lessons of life. These are the same parents who frustrated the shit out of their own children.

To wit, in a liberally wet campfire conversation, a parent was expounding the character building capability of the army and, by god, was going to sign-up his son to give him “du nerf” – force of character, toughness, nerve.

I was thinking to myself at the time that this guy fucked up his son’s character so badly that he now has to turn to society to make up for what he missed! Years later I was thinking that his kind of life, very different from my own, might require a strong, even violent, character. Now I’m back to thinking:  nah! You fucked up and now expect the army to fix your problem.

I’m not even going to discuss the frustration the kid might have felt, that’s just too obvious.  The parent’s incongruent approach is in evidence here.

Were the child to have enough nerve to throw his old man a whopping, he would surely have been enlisted into the army to teach him discipline!

Power indeed.

Once the child has broken free, has come to terms with the parents power over him or her, has identified those areas of vulnerability, he or she can begin to address making sound decisions.

This impact on decisions is not solely the purview of parents, indeed not, I should make a case for friend’s influence and peer-pressure as well.  I think both of these are rather obvious and follow the same basic pattern.  Replace frustration with the need for acceptance and you get the idea.

Many people are in therapy because of unresolved, so-called, issues with their parents. By and large, I think this is normal. The parent’s intentions are, we assume, pure but some mistakes will occur and some situations will yield bad results no matter what. The child being a child cannot understand the difference and files it away in core learning and then builds upon it.

And this is the problem.  We have no idea what lies under the cement in the basement. We assume it’s bedrock, or packed gravel, but we just don’t know, and the same goes with our childhood learnings.

We observe other houses around us, maybe we are lucky enough to see one built from the ground up, which gives us an idea of what may be under our own slab.  But unless you go digging up the basement, or taking core samples, you just cannot be sure.  Breaking a concrete slab is tough thing to do; it takes courage and hard work, but is sometimes necessary to replace the packed dirt or pyrite with gravel. But even then, there might be something just a little deeper, like a fault line.

You can get pissed off at the contractor, but at some point, it’s the earth itself.

And that’s when it’s time to move.


Basement: Most if not all modern houses in my corner of Canada are built upon a poured cement or concrete block foundation, which will either rest on bedrock if it’s present, mechanically packed gravel, or deep sand. This avoids foundation movement and cracking during the freeze-thaw cycle every year. Although not necessary a smooth cement slab will usually be poured within this foundation, creating a floor for a liveable basement.

Pyrite: “fool’s gold”, a nasty little rock.  It is prevalent in some regions and was mostly ignored decades ago, but it has a tendency to absorb water and humidity and will expand over time, cracking foundations and warping house frames. According to some, it will stabilize after some 50 years. Maybe tens of thousands of houses in and around the greater Montreal area may be afflicted in some way, mind you, if they haven’t moved by now… they probably won’t.