Pussy tykes

"Kid-friendly" Seattle needs to toughen up its offspring.

"I like children," the great W.C. Fields once said. "If they're properly cooked."

And he wasn't even talking about Seattle, which has been named the nation's most "kid-friendly" major city.

To put this honor into perspective, the 1999 Kid-Friendly Cities Report Card comes from that august body, Zero Population Growth.

ZPG is the cult of paranoiacs founded by Paul Ehrlich, author of the 1968 camp classic The Population Bomb. Ehrlich is an insect biologist whose field of expertise is butterflies. His theories about humans are still taken seriously in some quarters, although he makes Ed Wood's phony sidekick pal, Criswell, look like Nostradamus in comparison.

If Ehrlich's catastrophic predictions hadn't been so nutty, Seattle residents would be rotting corpses buried in the rubble of industrial society, unable to bask in the glow of ZPG's nifty A+ grade.

ZPG rated "kid-friendliness" on such factors as a city's population changes, school dropout rates, the percentage of teens who get knocked up, crime rates, economics, and the presence of Bill Gates.

At about the same time ZPG handed out its report card, the Microsoft gazillionaire's Newsweek cover story exemplified Seattle's gag-inducing kid fixation. "Everything she does is just so fascinating," the brilliant Gates coos to Newsweek about his little girl.

Heartwarming. Now go mop up the fascinating load in her shorts.

ZPG rated Baltimore the worst major city for kids. More than three times as many teens get knocked up there, but at least the city of H.L. Mencken has the right ideas about what to do with the offspring.

On a recent trip to Baltimore, I enjoyed a beautiful art deco movie theater which had a soundproof "crying room" for kids, where the balcony would have been. Seattle could use some of those—its parents are so codependent and overindulgent with their broods that even Dr. Spock would have pimp-slapped them.

I want to hand out my own special award when I'm brought to the brink of a cerebral hemorrhage by babbling toddlers carted into even R-rated movies. Cute. Or by the little versions of Rasputin running amok in the grocery store while their folks blithely ignore the noise and carnage. Very enlightened.

Researchers, applying precise scientific terminology, predict that children growing up in Seattle's current kid-friendly environment will become "the biggest buncha pussies ever to walk the earth." They're victims of "overparenting," the strange '90s phenomenon described by John and Linda Friel in their book The 7 Worst Things Parents Do.

Neurotic parents are making innocent tykes the repositories of their own longings, and crippling them with the perfect, unreal lives that they saw on "The Brady Bunch" or "Father Knows Best"—or, in my case, "The Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls." These child fetishists are delusional enough to think that they can and should be their kids' best friends (which should be a drag of a prospect for any self-respecting kid); that homework is for both of them; that a child's day should be filled with structured activities that don't involve either firecrackers or the neighbor's cat.

Along with mom and dad's regrets, kids are saddled with bicycle helmets, knee and elbow pads, V-chips, and noncompetitive games with only winners and no losers. Smothering control freaks shield them from every sharp corner of society. (Except for the commercial with Rosie O'Donnell rapping for K-Mart—a thing evil on so many levels that a child should be exposed to snuff films first.)

These hyper-involved grown-ups are protecting their tots from all the things that made them interesting adults. Unless those adults turned out to be Al Gore.

Since the pendulum has swung so far, we need to go Baltimore one better.

You can defuse the human time bomb that your overparenting has created.

Start slowly, if you like. Withhold a meal. Get stoned and focus on your child's physical flaws. The rest will flow from there. Don't rush home after work to spend time with them. Stay out all night, and then bring home a succession of "uncles." The fate of this nation depends on the return of the latchkey kid. If you really want to show your love, you'll do this.

Picture a world in which the generation that complained of walking miles to school—uphill both ways—is just a distant cultural reference on old Nick at Night shows. A future in which old fogeys complain that their greatest hardship growing up in kid-friendly Seattle was being the last to get a cell phone.

And then pressure your child into a life on the streets. Because it's time for tough love.

Show the propagandists at ZPG that unlike generations X and Y, Generation ZZZ . . . will have the raw materials to build personalities of substance.

Like Whitney Houston, I believe the children are our future. Now go and humiliate that future in front of their school friends.

 
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