Little people are scary. Not the “Little People,” but miniature versions of adults – babies in tuxedos, spelling bee champions who use the words in context, kids in miniature Lambourghinis pissed about imaginary traffic jams. There is certainly something to be said about precocious and intelligent children, and everyone wants to relate to their kids, but making them into adults is not just creepy, it’s wrong. Like “Claudia” in Interview With The Vampire.
A little girl of about 5 or 6 and her mom came into a restaurant where I once worked, and when asked where she wanted to eat, the girl chose the bar. This would have been a pretty bad sign were it not for the wall-sized aquarium behind the bar. She asked what kind of juice we “offer” (yes, she said offer). I gave her a tumbler and she asked for a wine glass. She ordered a rare hamburger that came out medium-rare and sent it back because it was “overcooked,” informing me that she knew the owner. I said “me too,” and she said “no, you’re just the bartender, you work for him. I know him.” Had she been an adult I’d have broken a bottle and stabbed her in the heart with it.
But when I was five or six, my mom would take me to McDonalds as a good grade reward (in finger painting or recess, I don’t know). I would dump ketchup all over the fries and, remembering my manners, offer one to my mom: “I’ll have an unadulterated one.” “What does that mean, Mommy?” “One without ketchup,” she said. As the person charged with molding my mind, it is my mother’s fault that I, until about age 14, thought that unadulterated meant “without ketchup.” On one hand I can appreciate her expanding my vocabulary, but we’re talking about fast food fries here, not effin’ Kobe beef; she could have just said “without ketchup” and saved that 50 ¢ word to buy her own damn fries! When, at that age, was I going to use that word? I’d like my chicken fingers unadulterated please?
I’ve had dozens of experiences with “Little People”: kids who know the difference between paté and chopped liver, or who know their e.e. cummings from their J.K. Rowlings; Little girls in Dolce & Gabana dresses at birthday parties, and boys in three-piece suits in church. They are children. God (or Joan Rivers) is not gonna put them on the worst dressed list! I don’t want my kid on Leno reciting the Declaration of Independence either. This is a child, their brains are sponges, they’ll memorize it as easily as they will FrÃ¨re Jacques, and understand it about just as well (summa-lumma-teeeena*). Let Dr. Sheldon Cooper of the Big Bang Theory stand as a shining example of what happens to kids like these: While he may have been smart enough to become a great doctor of physics by the age of 14, at the end of the day he didn’t understand why people enjoy the warmth of human relations – and by this I mean sex. Do you want your kids to be 30 year-old virgins? Well, DO YOU?! Let kids be kids. Teach them that dirt isn’t for eating, but let them order pasta fully adulterated (with ketchup, of course). There’s nothing wrong or embarrassing about it.
And, yes, children are a reflection of their parents, but as long as they are polite and don’t hit and grow up to be adults who are bright, thoughtful and not virgins, isn’t that a beautiful reflection of you?
*It’s “sonnez les matines,” btw. I learned that as well when I was 14.