Motile Prestige Prospecting Devices

Once the child has been brought into the world in order to satisfy the neighbours, it must be made to behave so as to impress them. The “morality” thereby taught means, not what sort of person you are inside, but whether you uphold the reputation of your parents among their peers. Although this Henry James character is not talking about her own offspring, the same principles apply: “I thought she would do me credit. I like to be well thought of, and for a woman of my age there’s no greater convenience, in some ways, than an attractive niece.”

All parents will say, if asked, that they are bringing up their children to become good citizens. In many cases it appears that the parents’ idea of a good citizen is by no means someone who treats all his fellow-citizens with consideration and humanity; for how else do children grow up to display hatred and contempt for random strangers with the wrong characteristics? They must have learned this by imitation. How then, are they brought up to behave towards those of whom their parents approve? This is clearly a quite different situation. The interests of their parents are clearly in maintaining good relations with their social allies, and many children are therefore trained to suck up to these. That is where conventional moral education stops.

As well as scoring points off one another by means of their own clothes and accessories, status-hunting parents deploy small motile devices to extend their prestige reach into new locations. Playdates, for example, are sporting fixtures whereby parents race these motile devices against one another. Even getting a playdate between their children and those in the next higher social class is a major trophy, but then the stakes are correspondingly higher. There is great excitement in the bleachers, as they await the score; have they been done proud, or made ashamed, by the details of their offspring’s behaviour?

I know a man who has immense talents but chooses not to employ them doing what is expected of bourgeois offspring. He also has a sister who is a physician. Despite the fact that she is said to be an entirely incompetent and unethical practitioner, a disgrace to the medical profession, their parents cannot resist bringing up “our daughter, the doctor”, in any conversation on any subject whatever, while pretending that he does not exist.

Some parents wouldn’t care two hoots if the offspring climbed Everest in only his underpants, discovered a new planet or saved a shipload of orphans – if he did so incognito. Because then they couldn’t brag.

When I was young, tourists in Switzerland were sold walking sticks with delusions of alpenstock-hood, onto which they could nail the little tin badges on sale in all the cities and towns, cable-cars, chair-lifts, mountain restaurants and other sights. They would then compare walking-sticks, not to see whose was longer, but to see who had the biggest and best badge collection. For some parents, children play the same role as those walking-sticks: a cheap piece of wood to which accomplishments are nailed.

Posted on January 7, 2010 at 10:03 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

One Response

Subscribe to comments via RSS

  1. Written by Mick Whitehead
    on May 18, 2011 at 12:18

    I am told by every mother I meet that their child is ‘special,’a ‘genius’ or ‘beautiful.’ Some say all three! Since only a minority of adults fit into these categories we must ask, ‘what happens?’

    A mother told me that decades back an acquaintance suggested the mother’s young daughter was a bit fat and not very good looking. Recently, the mother sent me a 30-year-old photo. The daughter was fat and ugly. The mother told me that looking at the photo now she thinks the daughter was fat and ugly. But she swears that for ten years, when the daughter was young, she was simply gorgeous and of perfect weight.

    It’s clear than that the mother is the victim of an illusion. An illusion, probably hormone generated (liquid becomes thought), justifying the (estimated) $400,000 or so it takes to raise a kid. And it’s not only the money. This mother also said, ‘I could have travelled the world if I didn’t have kids.’ What organism is going to give up so much to raise a loser?

    Seems the simplistic and superficial human consciousness is able to carry out big-time trickery to keep gene replication going. As Nature wastes nothing, the illusion vanishes when no longer needed. It’s as if she has ‘sobered up’ recently and seen the photo clearly.

    It’s worth noting too that the less a parent feels they’ve accomplished the more emphasis they put on the child succeeding. ‘What the kid does, I do,’ they seem to be saying. An old Italian proverb has it that, ‘every cockroach is beautiful to its mother.’

Subscribe to comments via RSS

Leave a Reply