The Covid Kids Are Alright
Despite the existential dread over the disruption of your third grader’s future due to missing intramural football and the school cafeteria, your kid is going to be just fine.
By David Todd McCarty | Saturday, September 5, 2020
There are a lot of people today who seem to want to view children as these overly-sensitive, highly-calibrated instruments that if shaken in the least, will become incapable of functioning. There is no evidence, empirical or historical to suggest any such thing. In fact, kids suffer disappointments, learn things their parents don’t want them to, discover sex, experiment with drugs, eat dirt, and somehow come out just fine, generation after generation. There are nearly 8 billion of us on the planet and your little ball of sunshine is going to truck along in the middle of the pack just like most everyone else.
The comedian Chris Rock said that despite the rhetoric of the day, he feels kids need a little bullying. Contrary to what society is telling us in the moment, giving these children everything they desire, without the pain or discomfort of going without, is not doing them any favors. It’s like the last generation before the fall of Rome. They will be crying over their avocado toast as the savage hoards invade and take their lunch money.
“You can be anything you want to be,” Rock says kids are told. “Why are you lying to these children? Maybe four of them can be anything they want to be. But the other 2,000 better learn how to weld. You can be anything you’re good at, as long as they’re hiring, and even then it helps to know somebody.”
Not to wax poetic about the good old days, but our parents really did smoke and drink and cuss while driving us around in enormous steel cars with no seatbelts, airbags or carseats. We ate mounds of sugar, sticks of butter, pounds of meat and watched endless hours of television. We ran behind trucks spraying DDT, didn’t know what a bicycle helmet was, drank Tang, and walked around the neighborhood, by ourselves, when we were five.
It’s true that not all of us made it. Some died, maybe unnecessarily, but we had fewer people and fewer medical problems. You know why? Because people died. Yet somehow we managed to put a man on the moon and invent the iPhone.
We need bullies,” Chris Rock says. “How the fuck you gonna have a school without bullies? Bullies do half the work. Teachers do one half, bullies do the whole other half. And that other half, is the half you’re gonna use if you ever become a fucking grownup.”
There are all these psychologists, parents, administrators and pundits talking about all the “normal” things this group of kids is going to miss. What they mean is, these kids won’t have the same experiences that they had, those memories that they look back fondly on. So what? What makes you think that was so incredibly vital?
People talk about summer camp as if it was the defining moment of their lives. Maybe it was. I didn’t go to camp. A lot of kids didn’t go to camp. Some of us managed to find it within ourselves to carry on anyway.
The arrogance of assuming that yours was the only generation to do it right is as ridiculous as it is common. Every generation laments the younger one, predicting the end of civilization as we know it. Can you really imagine worrying about Elvis dancing or the length of John Lennon’s hair? The adults of the day certainly did.
Kids growing up today cannot comprehend a world without the internet, or constant, wireless communication. But we can’t understand what it’s like to be native to that world either.
Human beings are incredibly resilient and adaptive. We are the world’s great pestilence and there is no anti-biotic. An invasive species that appears to be native to nowhere yet overly common to everywhere.
So, fret not. Your little cockroaches will multiply and prosper, same as they always do. Same as they always have. This little speed bump will barely register. A curiosity that will bind them as children of a certain time. Like kids who watched Adam-12 or Full House after school.
Follow David Todd McCarty on Twitter @davidtmccarty and The Standard @capemaystandard