It’s our annual tax deadline today. Which means that I’ve spent much of the last week wretchedly catching up on the accounting, and most of today on the computer trying to drag my way through tax return preparation. And which also means I’ve made some enthusiastic diversions into heated discussions on various message boards for no other reason than that they’re not columns of numbers.
So someone asked if anyone cared to share their thoughts on full-day schooling for 3- through 5-year-olds. This is something the province of Ontario, which already pays for half-time schooling for kids from September of calendar year in which they turn four, is considering. And, craving some [virtual] human contact, something to throw some emotional energy at and a creative outlet for my left brain, I replied thus:
As a society we’re institutionalizing our kids more and more, younger and younger, contracting out parenting responsibilities to beat the band, and standardizing the little holes we drop our kids into so that almost any child with any uniqueness needs a label to cope. All in order to serve the relentless drive to increase GDP.
It’s all about money. It’s about getting parents out earning and spending, and kids turned into consumer-oriented compliant workers, so that everyone can continue to drive the economy towards higher and higher numbers, plundering the planet and exploiting poor nations as we do so.
We live in a society where most families need two working parents, so full-time schooling makes economic sense for them. But if we examine that “need” for two working parents more skeptically it becomes apparent that it’s a “need” only as defined in reference to a 21st century lifestyle, the one we’ve been led to by that same economic machine.
“Need” now means cable TV, high speed internet, a computer, separate bedrooms for every kid, a vehicle, two TVs, a DVD player, two bathrooms, a cellphone or two, ballet and swimming lessons for the kiddos, a dishwasher, BBQ, microwave and automatic clothes-dryer, eating out a couple of times a month, and a recorded music collection that would take several days to play through once. How many of these things did our grandparents or great-grandparents need as young parents? Probably none of them. Yet we’re institutionalizing our kids at 3 because we can’t imagine living without them.
I make it my business to imagine living without them. And to question this slippery slope ride towards a society that institutionalizes kids at birth so that their parents can continue to consume resources at unsustainable rates.