Crisis Maximisation

I have known two people, a man and a woman, who reported the same peculiar experience with their parents: they were both “good” teenagers, in the sense that they did well at school, never took drugs, never stole, never crashed the car, never got into trouble with the police, never caught a STD, and never got knocked up or knocked anyone else up. Surely they deserved some credit for this? And yet their parents never commended them for these things, but carried on as if they were quite depraved; they took their relative innocuousness so thoroughly for granted that the sort of indignation normally appropriate for high crimes was bestowed instead on the low misdemeanours that all youngsters commit. That both were both adopted only-children may be a coincidence; alternatively, it may suggest that the parents wished to “acquire”, off the shelf, a paragon who would do them credit in their social lives and their own self-esteem.

Some parents are curious to see how their children will turn out: others have their children’s future personalities, accomplishments – and the reflected glory to be basked in accordingly – all mapped out a lifetime in advance. Curiosity implies that one is open to what will happen; for such parents, on the contrary, there is only the delightful blueprint and the intolerable departures made therefrom by the messy reality of real people.

Posted on January 12, 2010 at 11:47 by Hugo Grinebiter · Permalink

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