Hell’s Children

One thing I remember quite well from my preteen years, other than the ever-present knowledge that God would throw me in hell for masturbating, is that people would constantly come up to my family in restaurants and elsewhere to congratulate my parents on how well-behaved my 4 siblings and I were. What’s the big deal? I remember thinking. We’re just normal kids for crying out loud! Ah, ignorance is bliss!

***

I am supposed to, immediately following a lesson, write a brief synopsis of how the lesson went. I was going to do that last night, but how to sum up a trip to hell and back in a length suitable for email when Dante took several hundred pages to write his? Discouraged by the gravity of such a task, I summarized the lesson, my 4th with these particular “children”, by saying that they were “wonderful cherubs as usual.” I like to stay positive. However, I’m told that that isn’t an adequate summary. So how best to describe agony that deserves to be presented in surround sound IMAX 3D in order to be properly felt and appreciated?

Take 2

I was teaching three-year olds… that’s the first thing you need to know. Four of them. A quartet of destructive little monsters capable of rivaling anything in Grimm’s. I’d have had an easier time my first night out as an exotic snake charmer. Instead I get this:

Immediately upon arriving at the home where I am about to teach my lesson, four deceptively sweet looking children rush at me, pillows in hand, and begin hammering away at me. “Hey guys, let’s not do that now.” I beg, trying to protect my more sensitive parts while the trio of mothers stands observing the scene, arms crossed and heads titled identically to the side while proud smiles play out on their lips.  “They’re so sweet,” one mother says to another, without a hint of sarcasm. In the meantime, her son has decided that the pillow he’s throttling me with doesn’t inflict enough damage and to instead use his fists. Sweet? Shirley Temple was sweet, so was that kid from Jerry Maguire. Hell, even Damian from The Omen was the baby Jesus in comparison to these little hellions.

What to do when you have to entertain the devil’s children for an hour and a half? Burn a cat?

“Why don’t you try playing Hide and Seek?” One mom suggests, since the fact that her kids are pounding on me clearly means I’m the one not doing something right. Can I count to 5,400? (Assuming I count a second at a time, this would take me the entire 90 minutes)

Hide and Seek goes fine, until they find me, trembling behind a door, which results in further screams (from me) and beatings (from them). Next up? Coloring. I’ve got a package that used to contain 50 markers, though that number decreases by 10 every time I teach the Al Qaeda little league as some inevitably find their way under the couch or destroyed in variously creative ways. Only ten have survived.

As they’re coloring I’m trying to elicit some vocabulary out of them, asking them in turn what eyes, ears, nose and mouth are. One boy asks me to open my mouth and, encouraged that he’s been paying attention to the lesson, I do so, only to have him blow spit all over my face and open mouth. As he’s breaking into a fit of giggles, I remember his mom having told me that they’re all sick and had stayed home from school today. Next time I’ll have to come with a surgical mask.

Some of these things admittedly are my own fault. Painting for example (at this point I am down to my Plan C) was obviously trouble, confirmed by the fact that as I write this I’ve got it all over my clothes, and the book that I thought was stowed safely away in my backpack. And of course, there are the things they said.

Things said while painting:

Me: “Wow, that’s a beautiful picture! What is it?”

Loveable child: “You…”

Me: “Oh, me? That’s nice!”

Loveable child: “Dead.”

Me: “Oh… ha ha ha… ha. Charming.”

Think about all the propaganda out about little children, about them being sweet and innocent and all that. Bullshit. If anything, they’re worse than adults, as the vast majority of adults have some sense of dignity or respect for others or at the very least know where to draw the line, and the ones that don’t were probably even shittier kids. Most of the time, the person you were as a child is the person you become as an adult. George W. Bush was probably always needlessly provoking little kids on the playground, blaming them for stealing his lunch money with no evidence while little Obama probably spent his school years eavesdropping on teachers and classmates and killing brown kids with toy helicopters. The author Norman Mailer wrote a novel speculating on the childhood of Adolf Hitler and how fucked up it must have been. Why speculate? Sure he was a shitty kid, he was a kid! He just never grew up to become a proper man. If you gave one of these 4 little cherubs I have tonight a military force to do with what they please, I’m pretty sure one or two civilizations would meet its end.

I check the time. Ten minutes left.

“Okay guys, let’s play Simon Says!” I turn excitedly from one face to the other, being greeted with nothing but snarls that would make Lassie turn tail and run.

“BASTA!!” (Enough!!) The cherubs all scream in unison. I couldn’t agree with the sentiment more, but I’ve got an obligation here, so it’s on to Plan Z. Play-doh. Like the markers, over the weeks my three once multi-colored packages of play-doh have undergone a transformation of sorts. Namely, three is now down to one, and when opened (at your own risk) this one looks like something that came out of the back end of the aforementioned heroic canine. A sticky, hairy, noxious green color that would likely qualify as toxic waste in northern (i.e. civilized) Europe, the kids nevertheless yank it out of my hands, screaming and hitting each other to try and garner the most.

Of course, not all children are created equal. Italian children for example, are as of now the worst children I have ever encountered. Why? Because in Italy discipline and consequences for your actions (whether child or adult) is something that one reads about in fairy tales from distant lands. Italian politicians are big babies likely because they were never told that no one likes babies unless they shit themselves and drool, and when that happens the second time they put you in a special home.

The writer Carl Sandburg once wrote “a baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” Either that or they’re further proof that there is no god… he couldn’t decide which.

There are some jobs that everyone, at some god-forsaken point in their lives, ought to have. I’ve had two of them. I’ve been a server at a restaurant, and now I’ve taught small children. Because really, what better evidence do you need that you’re not ready to reproduce?

Like cigarette cartons, penises should come labeled with a special message:

Warning: May accidentally misfire, resulting in offspring causing pain and possible death to you and others. Use a fucking rubber for god’s sake!

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