Stupid Summer Activities III: Exasperating the Children – The American Spectator

One of the most common summertime activities is that of exasperating the kids. These days, children live 11 months of the year inside big city bubbles, locked up at home, surrounded by all the pleasures their hearts could desire, and a long way from any hint of real, rural life — as if placing them in contact with nature could harm their sensitive skin, prepared for emancipation and to become self-sufficient by around the age of 55.

During the month when they do head out to the countryside, hit the beach, or leave their ultra-safe environment, parents eagerly set about the task of exasperating them. Everything that is not dangerous can be deadly. Anything that is not poisonous can transmit disease. Anything that doesn’t bite can be endangered, or cause fish to die in a sea of plastic, or increase the global warming that will plunge the world into an eternal wildfire.

Don’t Touch That

For many parents, anything in a field is likely to harm the child. From a small rose with thorns to a stone, from a post that someone has placed on the path to a very dangerous butterfly — which, as everyone knows, is a bug that often opens its huge mouth and swallows children whole, while desperate parents look on helplessly. And even if that didn’t happen: Haven’t you heard that the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil can set off a tornado in Texas? 

Not only is nature itself an abominable monster for present-day urban children, but so are parks, swimming pools, or even hotels. Anything new and different from the winter monotony is likely to prick, burn, cramp, bite, sting, scratch, gobble, or severely stain a child’s hands.

The only thing the little dwarfs should touch in summer are their own toys, as long as they have not come into contact with anything else. For parents now, it is very important that the chain of sterility is not broken. 

Don’t Go Over There

It is true that the sea and mountains have cliffs, waves, currents, and even snake nests. Otherwise they would have about the same appeal as a summer romance between Nancy Pelosi and Michael Moore. But to a modern parent, the beach is a big deadly tidal wave, the hillside a steep mountain full of poisonous snake nests, and a farm like a zoo, but with the animals loose and ready to eat unwary children. Otherwise, how come the cows are so fat, eh?

Curiously, parents do not let their children go near fairground attractions — they could fall off them — donut stands — who knows where that paste comes from! — flowers — they could harbor insects — fire — it burns — barbecues — they’re full of cholesterol — the lifeguard tower — the child might drown by symbiosis — old buildings — some of those stones that have been there for six centuries could fall off — nor do pretty much anything else. 

Ideally, the child should be kept away from everything, including himself, since we know from the old philosophers that the worst enemy is oneself.

Do Not Put That in Your Mouth

Fruit fresh from the tree, cake from village festivals, and grass is forbidden. Incomprehensibly, parents are much more intolerant of grass than of, for example, beach sand. Most children eat beach sand in the summer, because while they are eating it, Mom and Dad are too busy sunbathing to forbid it.

The Stomach Cramp

It doesn’t matter what doctors say about the myth of the stomach cramp. It’s the most ancient rallying cry on beaches and in swimming pools: 

— Child, you can’t swim until two and a half hours after eating. You just ate a peanut.
— Dad, Wikipedia says that stomach cramps from bathing is an unfounded belief.
— Just in case.
— Dad, if I wait two and a half hours, the sun will have gone down.
— Then you swim in the shade.
— It will be cold.
— Well, you can’t swim in the cold; can’t you see that you can get cold shock?
— Dad, wasn’t it a heat shock?
— Yes, that too.
— Dad, I can’t die of cold and heat at the same time.
— Look kid, just dive in and leave me alone, but don’t let your mother know.

Drinking Water

I suppose the probability of a healthy child in the first world becoming dehydrated is still less than the probability of a meteorite falling on his or her head. However, as soon as the sun comes out, children are forced to drink almost as much water as layers of sunscreen are applied to their skin over the course of a day at the beach: about 5 gallons. I have seen children squirting water out of their ears as they walk (and Mom insisting, “Drink a little more, they said so on TV”).


Fire burns, children do not know it, and that could lead them to want to throw themselves in it and burn away. It has long been known; that’s what all the children of the Stone Age did. That is why we have become extinct.

No to Boats

Are you kidding? Boats sink.

No to Hide-and-Seek

It predisposes the child to run away and hide from others. We could be encouraging antisocial behavior.

No to Soccer in the Street

Street soccer is a very serious disturbance of public order. A violent sport. And there are always children who win and others who lose, resulting in an extra risk for the summer psychological imbalance of kids who, according to the school psychologist, could have a loser’s complex. 

No to Everything

The summer of contemporary parents is all about protecting children at all costs from the playful activities they themselves happily engaged in as children. In the end, as parents, we must sometimes ask ourselves what things we do to protect children, and what things we do to protect our own fears. 

Moral of the Story

I’m not suggesting that you let your kids drown, or that you encourage them to practice the crawl while being eaten by a crocodile (I know kids who would be able to eat the crocodile themselves). Just think of it as a vacation: Relax and let them live their lives in peace for a while. That way, you’ll also have more time to get drunk. It’s not very educational, okay, but it’s no worse than putting your child in a sterilized capsule until he or she turns 40.

Read More: Stupid Summer Activities III: Exasperating the Children – The American Spectator

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