2/02/2006

rumblings from evil niece no.2


I got an email from another of my evil nieces, who's got to be thirteen by now, with the plaintive subject line: "HEy!!!???"

It read: "how r u..............im brillant i have a b/f named joey he goes to my church kewl huh............new subject???????lolim goin 2 church 2nite 2 eat and stay 4 uth groups & all my friends r gunna be there???? wat r u doin 2 nite???? email me bak!!!!! luv ya lots!!!!"

First of all. Children should be restricted from emailing adults until they can learn to spell properly, and punished severely for emailing them before they do. Punishment should also be meted out for sending e-cards and forwarding jokes and chain-letters that have been forwarded to them. I'm not sure exactly how this would work, but there's probably some way that an electric shock could be administered via email, so that when they opened my reply, they would get about 300,000 volts. That should probably be enough to stun them into using standard English, wouldn't you think?

This is definitely a meme thing. And this particular niece is particularly susceptible to memes. She's desperately desperate to be accepted by her peers. To be "kewl," as the kids (apparently) say now. The punctuation is also indicative of her desperation--and she is at least this insistent in person. You're like, where's your remote? Where's the volume knob?

The problem here is, I really don't want to encourage her. I don't necessarily want to discourage her, but the truth is, my love of standard English may be greater in the long run than my love for her. You know, "luv ya lots" means nothing to me. I don't recognize any of those words. You might as well be writing in Swahili, sweetheart.

I don't do kidspeak, either. If kids want to be fed, if they want something at the shop, if they need some money, they'll have to petition me in standard English. You may live in Kidworld, but I'm just visiting. Sometimes it's hard to resist--you get in a when-in-Rome mindframe, and kids are very controlling anyway. But, trust me, you must resist. Your dignity is at stake, and so is any hope for theirs.

I remember whenever you'd take one of them along on a drive, they'd reach for the radio dial like Radio Disney was a God-given right. And then, you smack their grubby little paws away (the driver's the DJ in my car), and they think they're gonna negotiate with you. It's like, I'm not your hostage, honey, you're mine. And anyway, you got nothing I want. I've got the cash, I've got the car. What do you have to negotiate with except my sanity. I mean, sure, you can hound me until I break, but then you'll never get another chance with me. And I'm not like your folks. When I say I'll lock you in the trunk if you don't pipe down, I will lock you in the trunk. When I say you're excommunicated, you are dead to me.

Kids think they'll eventually get what they want just by wearing you down. I mean, they've got all the time in the world. And they've got no scruples. They'll do anything in their power to get their way. They're parents pussy out on them, and they think the whole world will do the same. But so long as I'm bigger than they are, I'm the boss.

Anyway, I'm debating whether or not to dignify this email with a reply. It's not just the English language, it's the psychodynamics of my brother's family that are at stake here. See, I've had some correspondence with this niece's little sis, who initiated it. But when I wrote back, little sis got all excited. My brother even wrote to tell me how much she was enjoying our correspondence. So big sis gets wind of it. I mean, little sis is getting A LOT of attention out of this. And big sis wants some of that, too, understandably enough.

But then it feels icky. It feels like you're being coerced into corresponding with her. That you have to make sure each email you send is equal in length to the whatever you sent the other, and so on, lest you be subject to that worst of all tweenie cries: "it's not faaaaaiiiiirrrr!" That, and "but YOU said...", seems to be what breaks most adults. Because adults want to do the right thing. But they're playing two different ball games here, because kids don't. Kids are in a battle to death for finite resources like food and attention. Affection would be nice, too, but it's not essential. And none of it has anything to do with what's right or just. It's about the survival of the shrillest. But they see that appeals to fairness get their parents where it hurts most. If they can find the guilt button (it's the equivalent of the "easy button" for adults), they are ruthless about pushing it at the least provocation.

So I think insisting on some minimum standards is my duty as their uncle. I mean, I'm doing them all a service by being a dick about it, don't you think?

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