God, I need to not read discussions of parenting on the internet.
It’s not something I seek out. Ever. Under any circumstances. I got there completely accidentally–I was roaming blogs, reading about abortion and feminism and fashion week, which are all things I understand and have opinions on. Well, except fashion. I don’t actually understand fashion. I have, through brutal trial and error, more or less managed to figure out what looks good on me, sometimes. (Cowl necks, deep cleavage, and nothing tight around the throat. The fashion world is not kind to short-necked, short-waisted hourglass women…)
Which is neither here nor there.
And then I accidentally clicked into a discussion of spanking bans, which I read with vague astonishment, consisting as it did of people who thought it was a horrible abuse and people who thought it was totally normal and people who took the moderate position that there’s a vast difference between a serious beating and a swat on the butt and all things are a matter of individual circumstance and people hating on the anti-child contingent, who hadn’t actually put on an appearance, but presumably were somewhere in a dark basement putting out pro-child-cannibalism propaganda on an ancient hand-cranked mimeograph and people who came out okay and people who came out not at all okay and people who cannot even see okay from where they are sitting, for reasons that one sneakingly suspects have very little to do with spanking or its lack.
Some people are so far over the edge that you could see the curvature of the earth reflected in their eyes.
The problem is that when I walk into this sort of thing, I Cannot Look Away, but I start to feel like I’ve wandered into some horrible internet house of mirrors, and if I grab the wrong doorknob, it’ll pitch me headlong into a discussion of breastfeeding and childhood anti-vaxxers and I’ll never get out and my boyfriend will find me in the morning, crouched under the desk, gibbering, with a gnawed stump where my mouse hand used to be and "YOG-SOTHOTH USES COMMERCIAL FORMULA" scrawled on the wall in my own blood.
(Seriously, something about breastfeeding seems to bring out the serious crazy, and I’ve never figured out why, nor wished to delve into the subject deeply enough to find out. I’m sure it’s a good idea if you can do it, undoubtedly there are health benefits, but then you get people screaming that if you don’t breastfeed until college, you’re an unfit parent, and that using formula is equivalent to child abuse, and you find yourself staring into space wondering idily how the species manages to reproduce at all and whether people had this problem in the days with mammoths.)
Actually, I wonder about the mammoth thing a lot. The species went on for thousands of years with everybody just going on as best they could–humans, not mammoths, although I suppose the mammoths were also probably going along as best they could, mammoths seem like a creature with a work ethic–and we seem to have done okay. I mean, we died a lot younger, but I don’t think that had much to do with spanking, and a lot more to do with tooth decay and getting stepped on by mammoths. It seems to me that no matter how you raise people–within certain ranges, obviously–people just come out like people. The history of the world is people coming out like people. Even in cultures where people do Very Very Weird Things by our standards, they come out astonishingly people-like, which either means that humans can get used to anything or that we’re all going to be screwed up by SOMETHING, and we should just work on avoiding the big things like wars and sex slavery and lead poisoning.
I don’t know, maybe if we were all breastfeeding and nobody got spanked and nobody was fed refined sugar before they were eighty, we’d be able to stop global warming telepathically and all have pet narwhals. I would dig a pet narwhal, although I’m not sure if they can be litter-box trained.
Kevin’s theory is that parenting is one of those things where people doing it have to feel like they’re doing it RIGHT, because nobody wants to feel like they’re doing it WRONG. So if I’m RIGHT and you’re doing it differently, you must be doing it WRONG, and I must defend my RIGHTness loudly and vigorously and occasionally irrationally, because A) children are involved, won’t somebody think of the children, etc and B) probably a majority of parents, at various points, are secretly convinced that they have no idea what they’re doing and some of us don’t want to admit that, and thus are stridently RIGHT. (And of course, if you are WRONG, then you are an unfit parent, and if you don’t recognize that you are WRONG, you must be told it, loudly, and if possible compared to Hitler.) Kevin may well be correct. This is one I don’t intend to find out on my own.
Sigh. I don’t know.
We are all entitled to our own traumas and lunacies, we are none of us well-equipped to judge one another’s pain, nobody gets out of life alive, and I genuinely believe that most of us in life are doing what we can with what we’ve got. Nevertheless, when I see discussions populated by people who seem to make a hobby out of honing their personal miseries, I still occasionally get the urge to grab the world by the shoulders, shake vigorously, and scream "FOR THE LOVE OF BUNNIES, GET OVER IT!"
Probably this makes me a bad person, and undoubtedly it would make me an unfit parent, so it’s good that I stick to cats, whose response to most trauma is "I meant to do that, and it looked cool. Now feed me, bitch."