You wouldn't want to be What's So Funny's child. Sure, it might sound like a real choice deal: the good looks, the slice of the What's So Funny fortune, the awe on people's faces when they overhear you at some Tuscany villa dinner party saying, "That's right -- Funny, as in the Colorado What's So Funnies." But being Funny isn't all it's cracked up to be. The truth is that this whole glitzy production is nothing but smoke and mirrors -- filthy, filthy, coke-smeared mirrors. The good looks? Plastic surgery. The fortune? Scratch tickets and string. And the awe of the Tuscany villa party-goers? Nothing more than the bored stares of Olive Garden patrons in Thornton, watching as you sprint like a lunatic through the kitchen and out the emergency exit, unable to afford the all-you-can-eat pasta and breadsticks for the third time in six days.
And as if that's not enough, one day Little Funny will have to make a difficult choice.
For the first few years of its life, my child -- to whom I will refer from here on out by the gender-neutral title "Accident" -- will be allowed to do as it pleases: drool and giggle, play in traffic, mark neighborhood fire hydrants with urine, sniff other children's backsides, what have you. But on that fateful day when Accident finally reaches cognizance -- a day I will recognize when I catch Accident stealing from my wallet -- I will present my child with two options.
"Accident," I will say, clad in the tobacco-stained pin-striped overalls that I will have become so fond of by that point. "There are two ways to win Papa's love."
In my right hand I will have a guitar; in my left, a soccer ball. I will place these items in front of my progeny, and Accident will realize that they are not strange symbols Daddy latched onto during yet another acid trip, but potential career paths. Maybe Accident will pick up the guitar and bang out a few chords. Or maybe Accident will start juggling the soccer ball, deftly switching it from left foot to right. With any luck, Accident will do both. Because if Accident ever approaches Daddy with any other professional passion -- if Accident ever says, "Daddy I want to join the debate team" or "Daddy, I want to be a tax attorney," Daddy will be forced to beat Accident.
Accident would become Incident.
But wait -- that's not the way to go about things, is it? Of course not. Just ask the Mental Health Association of Colorado, which last week issued a paper on "Positive Parenting and Alternatives to Spanking" in response to overwhelming requests for guidance in such matters. This document quickly caught What's So Funny's attention, probably because the headline mentioned spanking. I wanted more. so I called the association, where two learned women prepared to have an intelligent conversation on discipline. Instead, they got this:
WSF: So when is it okay to spank a child?
MHAC: Spanking can be one of many strategies, and if it's the only strategy that a family uses, then it's probably not going to be effective as a child grows older.
WSF: What if you go through the steps, the time-outs, the constructive criticism, and the child tells you to go F yourself? It's okay to spank them then, right?
MHAC: Not necessarily. I think it's a parent's choice how they handle it. I think removing the child from the situation is a better alternative.
WSF: And if your child lies to you?
MHAC: Are you asking if it's okay to spank them then?
MHAC: Well, I would say no. If you want your child to learn a lesson from it, spanking is not the answer.
WSF: Is it ever okay to spank a child that is not your child?
MHAC: Uh, I don't think so personally. I think using physical discipline is ultimately something that should be left up to a parent.
WSF: And what's the difference between, say, spanking and hitting?
MHAC: I don't know that there really is a big difference.
WSF: There isn't?
MHAC: If you hit your child, I don't think there really is.
WSF: So they're both equally inappropriate?
WSF: Even if the kid hits you first?
MHAC: Yes, because you're not being a positive role model if you're hitting your child back. If you are, you're saying it's okay to hit.
WSF: By hitting him back?
MHAC: Yeah. I don't think you want to teach a child to go to school, and if someone hits them, they hit them back.
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WSF: But what if you never taught your child to hit you and he hits you anyway?
MHAC: I think you still want to be a positive role model and say this is simply not acceptable. I'm speaking from my own experience. In some households, maybe that's the method of punishment and handling problems, but overall I don't think it's a good strategy.
Well, that may be your opinion, Mental Health Association of Colorado, but in the What's So Funny household, it's the only way we have of keeping our little Accident in line. Do you know the other day he actually had the nerve to come home with a lacrosse stick? You wouldn't want to be What's So Funny's child.