When I was young I thought I was a dinosaur. I would walk around with my arms tucked in with just my index and middle fingers pointing out like a T-Rex. I would walk around roaring (or growling) at people. I would chase my pavement special dog up and down the yard trying to hunt him like a T-Rex would hunt a herbivore in prehistoric times. I was basically the only child since my brothers are 15 and 12 years older than me. So I had to find ways to stay entertained.
Drawing pictures on the walls with permanent markers was a favourite past time and spending hours upon hours of playing all by myself (not with myself, like the last few years) and exploring the neighbourhood. I was a handful. I would just randomly decide to run off down the street when Doris, our domestic worker and my babysitter’ back was turned for a second. She would eventually find me 4 blocks away in a random families yard, busy playing with their dogs while she was worried to death about my well-being.
One thing I loved was when she took me on shopping trips to Marabastad. She would leave me at this little shebeen where old men sat and played dominoes and they would look after me and allow me to play along while she was busy getting her shopping done. And it was the most fun ever. She would invite her friend over to the house(when my parents weren’t there of course) and the friend would bring her son along and then me and him would play soccer in the backyard even though we didn’t understand a word of what the other one was saying. And I am forever thankful that I got to grow up this way.
I also practically grew up solely on TV. I didn’t go to kindergarten or something. My teachers were my parents, Doris and hours, upon hours, upon hours of television. Especially late night television. Once my late grandfather gave me a watch and all I used it for was the alarm function so that I could get up at 2 AM and watch movies like Nightmare on Elm Street or Hitchcock’s Birds. There I was, a 3 year old little boy sitting in the dark, alone, watching some of the best horror movies ever made. And my parents were fine with this.
They would find me in the morning asleep or awake on the couch with early morning cartoons glowing from our old Philips TV that had a wooden like frame and barely displayed colour. I loved horror movies and my mom too. So we would sit and watch it together on occasions. And she would scare the living shit out of me. Like I remember watching Candy Man with her and she suddenly stood up and said Candy Man 3 times in the mirror. I flipped out. Crying hysterically because I was convinced the Candy Man was going to come and kill my mom.
But of course there were side effects from late night TV though. At that age I could easily out swear a Tourette’s sufferer or any Martin Scorsese film. Every bad word my brain absorbed like a sponge. I doubt that I even understood what they meant but I understood the context they were used in. But the way they were said on TV was so cool to me. And I knew they were bad. That’s what made them even more attractive to me.
One time, while 3 years old I swore at my 18 year old brother so badly that he started crying. There, I learnt the power of words and then again when my dad sat me down and told me if I ever talked like that again he would cease to acknowledge my existence. He would never speak to me again. He then topped that off by locking me in the bathroom for what felt like forever but it was actually just a few minutes. I never swore again. Well, not in front of him.
Kids don’t have any of that these days. Parents are so overprotective and I can understand because this is a twisted world we live in with a lot of evil people. But is it good for the kids? To keep them so shielded and make their world so small that it actually stunts their growth. Okay, I agree with applying parental control on the DSTV because you don’t want them to sound like me on a mediocre day but there are actually people out there who are constantly calling the broadcasting complaints commission to complain about images shown on the news, swear words on shows or even adverts that are too witty for their small minds to comprehend.
How many complaints have been lodged against, let’s say, Nandos over the years from bitter pissed off people who felt like they should be vigilantes and stop it from being aired in case young people see it and get a goddamn sense of humour? If everything on television offends you that much then why do you own a TV? Why don’t you parental lock yourself out? Because you do not want to miss Binnelanders? I should actually launch a complaint against Binnelanders because it’s screwing up your intelligence.
When I was a kid I didn’t have a 24 hour cartoon channel. There were cartoons in the morning, cartoons in the afternoon and then Power Edition on Saturdays. The rest of the time I played outside as a dinosaur chasing our dog around or watched whatever my parents were watching. And it was quality cartoons and shows. Not shit like Hannah Montana. We had Freakazoid, Doug, Gargoyles, Marsupilami,Pinky and the Brain, Recess, The Magic School Bus, Animaniacs, Biker Mice from Mars, Looney Tunes, Fat Dog Mendoza, Thundercats and the list goes on and on and on. Allowing your kid to only watch kid’s shows (especially shitty ones on the Disney Channel) can’t be good for their brains. I watched 1 episode of some show that had wizards or something on Disney Channel and I could feel my brain cells pulling a Kurt Cobain.
I felt numb and concerned that this shit was all that some kids were watching and that we were possibly breeding a “special” generation with “learning difficulties”. The thing is, these shows are not cartoons. They feature real people. Like, say, Miley Cyrus. The kids believed that who she was on the show was how she really was. They saw her as a role model. They talked like her, dressed like her, had that fucking annoying attitude and then suddenly she was grinding a giant Wrecking Ball. And the kids still look up to her. Because these people grow up and change. So the kids then want to grow up too and end up growing up a lot earlier and miss out on real childhood.
Cartoons don’t grow up or change. They will always be the same. When you watch a cartoon you know its fiction, but it does wonders for our imaginations.And the best thing yet, is that parents would rather have them inside watching cartoons than outside where it’s oh so dangerous. Yet they give their 7 year olds shit like Blackberries? Allow them to have Facebook and also be altar boys at a catholic church? What the actual fuck? You give yourself Carpal Tunnel Syndrome from typing angry letters to a fucking fast food Chain because they made a funny advert joking about your hero Oscar Pistorius yet you are handing your child a device that opens them up to all kinds of bad people who stalk Mxit and BBM and other forms of Social networks looking for easy prey.
Congrats on your Darwin Award, don’t forget to thank God first.Take their phones away, teach them to not talk to strangers, to not get into cars, to run away from bad people and give them rape whistles. Just do some fucking parenting you lazy pricks and take them to go ride a bike. Let them explore a bit. When you’re young the world is a huge magical place full of beauty and wonder. As you grow older you learn that it isn’t. So let them appreciate it while they still can.
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Pretorian. Wordsmith. Curious Creature.