When we see our flaws in our children, it’s a heartbreak.
When I was young, I wanted to find the end of the line. I wanted to know what was permanent. It was a hard thing for me.
I chased them, and society kept me safe. My parents sure tried, but I wound up being persistent. I’d always eventually able to wear them down and skirt the consequences with some token good behavior. My parole would come quickly.
I remember in school going to great lengths to feed my shock fix. Heckling the girls basketball team to the point where their opposing coach started coming into the stands. Getting a crowd of football spectators to chant “Fifty-Six has Bitch Tits,” at a Mid-Major college. It was fun for a moment. But the energy I spent on it, man?
In seventh grade, planted a rumor on the electronic scrolling message board (for a fundraiser if I recall). Civilized society doesn’t care. The Overton window didn’t then do anything. I remember how much of myself was spent on petty rebellions, tilting at windmills.
I played the part of Rebel. Because that was easier and more instant than excellence. And it got attention, and there were really no consequences. And the rebellion was harmless, no threat to the machine I raged against.
It took more and more to shock people. And it was taxing to try.
It was so boring. The obvious dick joke. The joke that got a laugh once but was stale to me. The rote reactions.
My kid was looking for the wall. He popped off at school and said some profoundly stupid things. He earned his trouble. I remember when I was his age, there’d be an uncomfortable day, and then it would blow over. I’d learn little to nothing. The lecture would end, and I figured out all I had to do was fake some contrition to make the talking stop.
This was to alleviate boredom. To find stimulation. To get some sort of fix. Because that was quicker than doing the work to earn one. Snark is like that. It’s easier to make a shitbird remark about someone’s family picture than to take your own.
So I gotta figure out how to impart a lesson. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let my kid follow those footsteps, but I’ll also be damned if I don’t understand his point.