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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 12 (March 2, 1936)

Catch 'Em Young

page 52

Catch 'Em Young

The Cult of Kindness.

There exists a large section of adult humanity which professes to know all there is to know—and more— about bringing up children; the best theories are usually advanced by people who have never had any. Having no children of their own, they have time and tranquility to work out theories as to how to bring up other people's. People who own children are usually so busy bringing them up that they have no time to work out theories about bringing them up.

As a matter of fact, children never have been “brought up.” Thirty years ago they were driven up. To-day they are supposed to be led up. If we lived in America we probably would ejaculate “Oh yeah!” at this point, but, being British we will content ourselves with “Jusso!” laying the emphasis on the “O,” as in “dOubt.”

For some of the known products of this “Come hither, Willie, and tell mummykins” school lead us to doubt that 'suasion beats swishin’.

Not infrequently this doubt is confirmed by an inescapable session with one of these anti-complex enormities of the “kind words” school whom we fain would lure away to some dark and fearsome wood and there play “wicked uncles” on them. Especially does this apply to those pale, large-domed examples of premature old age who exhibit, by means of foot-and-mouth and all-in tactics, their low opinion of adults in general and parents in particular; and equally does it apply to the beef-and-iron type of menace whose character has been so carefully purged of complexes that only original sin remains. This brand is an engine of destruction capable of bringing home to us that peace has it horrors as well as war.

Complexes and Reflexes.

Strong-minded matrons rattle at the joints when they hear these little darlings tearing the front gate off its hinges. Hostesses of the old peace-atany-price school put all the crockery under the house, lock grandpa in the linen press, put the parrot in the loft, and nail the Chippendale tables to the floor when they hear these youthful smash-and-grab artists smashing the front windows with their mothers’ umbrellas as a prelude to the more serious business of internal destruction.

Their mothers say, “Thank goodness wee Basil has been brought up untainted by fear and free to give expression to his reflexes. He has been reared on love, you know.”

Further observation is drowned in a crash from the direction of the glass-house. The mother of the walking atrocity smiles brightly and remarks, “These little incidents are inseparable from a child's upbringing if he is to be reared to manhood, free and untramelled in thought and action.”

The thought uppermost in the hostess's whirling brain is, “Why is it necessary to rear him to manhood? Would it not be a far, far, better thing if a gasometer were to blow up in his immediate vicinity, or if somebody left the lid off the old well in the orchard?” There are times when such sufferers must be forgiven for believing that
“What has become of prattling childhood?”

“What has become of prattling childhood?”

King Herod had his points, in spite of appearances.

What has become of prattling childhood? Where are the wee bairns babbling at their mother's knee, the chortling chubby cherubs crooning away the sunlit hours? Gone, sir! Slaughtered by psychology, murdered by metaphysics! Only in the Pictures is the ideal attempted now, and the result is usually more like a squad of dwarf “thimble-riggers” and “yes” men impersonating tiny tots with sound effects produced with knives on tin plates. It is sad, but too true, that unrepressed childhood to-day, instead of listening at granny's knee to the exploits of Jack the Giant Killer and his namesake of the Beanstalk, cries for the deeds of Baby-faced Branigan, the kid killer of the underworld.

Rear Action.

Instead of lisping, “Dear grannie, I love oo,” which was the stock expression of Little Hester in all the best books of the pre-psychology age, they yelp, “Aw! Granny! Be your age! Snap out of it, and give us something with a kick in it!”

Such children are not reared. Certainly they rear. It is the one thing a child does naturally. They rear all over the house. They rear in public. page 53 You can hear them rearing at almost any time of the day and night.

We do not suggest that all the young of the species are rearers. There are still parents who believe in the sanctity of parenthood, mothers’ rights, and the laying on of hands.

The Way Of A Whisker.

Perhaps it is not unnatural that the pendulum has swung from the one extreme of iron discipline to the other of untempered freedom, in a comparatively short span of years.

It is a significant fact that child psychology came in when father's whiskers came off.

There is no doubt that whiskers were a great aid to parental discipline; a set of black Dundrearies, a Ned Kelly, or any other species of face cover, represented, to erring childhood, the terror of the unknown. The infant Samuel, brought to book for saying “skittles!” to his aunt, knew not what his father's face was doing behind the whiskers. It was quite impossible to gauge the degree of ferocity registered in the privacy of his father's chinchillas. In
“Only the whites of his eyes showing.

“Only the whites of his eyes showing.

fact, he never really knew his father. He had no chance of knowing if his father sported one of those jutting jaws common to “the men who made the Empire,” or whether he conformed to the specifications of the Chinless Wonder. Consequently the child was obliged, as a precautionary measure, to give his father the benefit of the doubt. It must have been great to be a father in those days Fancy being able to order your children about—and get away with it! I assure you, dear reader, that it was done—strange as it may seem. It was done, simply because no child was able to sum up his father with only the whites of his eyes showing. Combined with this paternal advantage, was the fact that fathers seldom wasted time in the cultivation of imagination. They never said to themselves, “Boys will be boys,” and “Dash it! I used to do the same myself.”

When tobacco first made its appearance in China the pig-tailed populace became so fond of it that the reigning Emperor sternly forbade its use under penalty of death! He was doubtless a “never-touch-it” and didn't approve of his subjects enjoying something he couldn't relish himself. Anti-tobaccoites are like that. But smoking is now so universal that were tobacco forbidden to-day the ban would certainly be ignored. A world without tobacco in the twentieth century is unthinkable! Everywhere the consumption of the weed is advancing by leaps and bounds. Here in New Zealand the principal demand is for the genuine “toasted” which combines the most exquisite flavour with the choicest bouquet, and what is practically immunity for the smoker—indulge he ever so freely. The toasting does it! The five brands of the real thing—Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cut Plug No. 10 (Bullshead), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold are in constant request. But there are two sorts of “toasted”—the genuine and the imitation. “A word to the wise will always suffice.”*

Happy Days Will Come Again.

No, incredulous reader, the father of the old school simply said: “Spare the rod and spoil the child,” or “This hurts me more than it does you, Theodore,” and reached for the buggy whip. Very heartrending and unscientific, no doubt, but look what it did for us.

But the wheel of progress goes round and round. Whiskers will return as sure as buggies won't and then it will be fathers’ day again. The present-day anti-complex child will, no doubt, grow to manhood and womanhood, and is it likely that, having had their own way since birth, they are going to let their children “get away with any monkey business?”

We are convinced that parents will never regain control of the home until fathers cultivate whiskers and mothers learn to say: “You just wait until your father comes home!”

page 54