Now that Madeline is two, it seems appropriate to declare myself a success as a parent. Which means it's now appropriate for those of you with kids (as well as those of you thinking about having or abducting kids) to ask me, "Joel, what's your secret?" Which means it's now appropriate for me to say "I'm glad you asked," and then write a blog post about it.
I'm sure many of you wondered why I took all those improv classes, and why I made you come watch my improvised musical where we could only use words that started with a letter suggested by the audience, and why I didn't stop the guy in the second row from choosing 'X', and why my song "Xerox Xevious" sounded exactly like "Summer of '69."
Well, it turns out that improv is a very easy way to become a better parent. (And that all of my songs sound exactly like "Summer of '69".)
"Daddy, can I have some more candy?"\ "No. Go to bed."
"Daddy, can I have some more candy?"\ "Yes, and after your teeth rot and you become obese and get diabetes and have to have your foot amputated, then you should go to bed."
"Daddy, where do babies come from?"\ "Go ask your mother."
"Daddy, where do babies come from?"\ [sits down on a plain black box, mimes that it's maybe some kind of pirate seat on some kind of pirate boat, and starts in a pirate accent] "Yarr, ye land lubbers always be asking me questions about babies ... [10 minute monologue in a pirate voice about pirate-y things that cleverly reincorporates elements from earlier in the conversation] Arr, go ask the first mate!"
"Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom."\ "Again? You just went!"
"Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom."\ "DING! Now in the style of Shakespeare."\ "Daddy, I need to go to the bathroom!"\ "DING! Now in the style of film noir."\ "Daddy, I NEED to GO to the BATHROOM!"\ "DING! Now in the style of a fetish video."\ "Daddy, I peed my pants."\ "And scene!"
2. Radical Libertarianism
Most books (with the notable exception of *Praxeological Parenting*) will tell you that moderate libertarianism is all you need to be a good parent. But there are a great many parenting problems that a belief in the night-watchman state does little to solve.
For instance, when your kid doesn't want to go to school because it's a brainwashing factory designed to grind young impressionable minds into submission by (among other things) forbidding them from leaving their seats or talking "out of turn" or using the restroom without first obtaining permission, the moderate libertarian answer is typically to offer them a voucher that covers the tuition to a different brainwashing factory. Your kid is unlikely to find this satisfying, for obvious reasons.
Similarly, when your kid wants to BitTorrent the Criterion Director's Cut version of Dora the Explorer, the wishy-washy moderate libertarian "you wouldn't download a Dora the Explorer handbag!" position on intellectual property is not going to make her particularly happy.
And what will you tell her when she asks (as all kids inevitably do) how granting a monopoly on violence could possibly be a good way to prevent monopolies and violence? Or why the dinosaurs on "Dinosaur Train" are able to peaceably resolve their various conflicts despite living approximately 66 million years before the invention of government? Or why it's OK for the government to take pieces of paper out of daddy's wallet just as long as they don't take too many, while she gets punished for taking even one, and don't try to give me any of that John Rawls "veil of ignorance" stuff, I might have bought that crap when I was an infant, but now that I'm TWO YEARS OLD the flaws in his "logic" are pretty glaringly obvious?
Whereas radical libertarianism easily sidesteps all these problems, making parenting a breeze (relatively speaking).
Did you ever imagine that all those years you wasted trolling that idiot Marxist kid on LiveJournal debate would end up being useful? Because they are! Kids love being trolled! Love it! Here are a few of Madeline's favorite trolls:
This one's easy, you just pick up something that belongs to the kid (e.g. a stuffed hippo) and troll that it's yours:
"Hey, my hippo."\ "No, MY hippo!"\ "I'm pretty sure this is daddy's hippo."\ "No, MY hippo!"\ "Does it have your name on it?"\ "MY hippo!"\ "It was just lying on the floor and I homesteaded it."\ "MY hippo!"\ "Have your protection agency call my protection agency and maybe we can work something out."\ "MY hippo!"\ "Behind the veil of ignorance it could just as easily have been my hippo."\ "MY hippo!"\ [ several hundred lines of dialogue removed due to space constraints ]\ "Yeah, but what does it really mean to 'own' something?"\ "MY hippo!"\ "And scene!"
Part of being a parent is helping your kids with science projects, so help them "demonstrate" something that isn't real, like cold fusion, or quantum computing, or evolution. Chances are their teachers won't know the difference, which makes it also work on another level.
Kids will believe just about anything, even that that third WTC 7 skyscraper would just collapse on its own despite not even being hit by a plane. Even so, it's not very hard to convince them that the towers were brought down on 9/11 by controlled demolition using explosives secretly planted in advance by the government in order to create an excuse to invade Iraq and Afghanistan in order to pave the way for a new American hegemony. And then they'll repeat this on the playground, and then you'll get called in for a parent-teacher conference at which you can reveal that you'd assumed that she'd picked these theories from the playground, which means that if she didn't then maybe she just came up with them on her own? And that if the official narrative is so shoddy that a 2-year-old can pick holes in it, then maybe Alex Jones is onto something!
"The Craigslist Experiment"
OK, so possibly there are some kinds of trolling kids don't like.