The greatest thing about being in your 20s is that you still have the opportunity to be a hypocrite. I’ve often thought that it’s fine for me to be wrong about things because I’m still deciding how I feel about them. Once you get older, once you’ve experienced the world, you should probably know better than to have ridiculous opinions. Being young gives you a free pass – you can be as wrong as you like and get out of it later by claiming “I was young and naive back then!”
One thing I was perhaps wrong about is children.
Children. Ugh, children. The only thing worse than children is parents. Parents. Ugh, parents. Children and parents equal one thing: pride. Is there anything more sickening than pride?
Having a baby seems to create an instant burst of pride in all parents. This pride makes the parent irrational. They suddenly start to believe that everybody else loves their baby as much as they do.
Before Facebook existed this wasn’t a problem. If somebody rang your phone to talk about their baby, you could easily pretend the phone line was broken and hang up on them. You might have to grit your teeth through a photo album or two from time to time, but that was it.
Now with social media, you can’t ignore parental pride. If you’re already well into adulthood, then I envy you. When you got married, when your friends got married, the pain of it all probably only lasted one day. You went to the wedding and that was it.
These days you have to take part in everything from the engagement, to the wedding, to the pregnancy, to the birth. Eventually all of this is going to lead to some people updating us all on their own deaths “Off to die now! YOLO!” or the conception of a baby “The sperm just made it to my egg! #fuckyeah”
My immediate reaction to all of this is: who cares? Maybe it’s because I’m a misanthrope who dislikes people in general. I like to believe everybody else feels the same. The truth of the matter is, nobody gives a crap about your life more than you do.
Posting baby photos doesn’t annoy me so much as the assumption that I care to see them. That annoys me. Don’t assume you know how I feel.
Recently, my sister had a baby. Before she had the baby, she was baby obsessed. Posting pictures of other people’s babies all over Facebook, pulling out her phone to show me cute pictures whenever she had the chance. Now that she has her own baby, the obsession hasn’t stopped, it has just started to multiply like a virus. She instead posts pictures of her baby, much to my annoyance.
Once you’ve taken 100 photos of a baby, do you need to take any more? The answer for my sister is: of course. You need a picture of the baby in every piece of clothing they own, using every toy they have, sitting in the arms of every person in your social circle. These photos used to annoy me and I would complain to my sister, but over time working at my kindergarten, I’ve started to take photos and videos of my own kids. I’ve started to become a hypocrite.
White children. Black children. Indian children. Latino children. Fat children. Skinny children. They all fail to be even half as cute as Korean children. Maybe I’m just growing up, starting to turn maternal, but never in my life before did I think “Awwwwwww, that kid is sooo cute” until I came to Korea.
Every time I see my Korean kids do something cute, I immediately think “Damn, this is cute. I better share it on Facebook.” Usually, I stop myself at the last moment because I realise that nobody finds it quite as cute as I probably do. Deep down though all I want is for everybody to see. See how cute my kids are. Go on! SEE IT! THEY’RE SO FUCKING CUTTTTTTTTE!
I’ve always been of the opinion that I would never have a child. I think I’d make a lousy father. When you have a child, you just pass on all your bad habits to them. For me to have a baby, would be a cruel thing. I wouldn’t wish to bring a baby into this world, knowing that I would probably push all my unhappiness and baggage onto them. Instead, I’ve made a reasoned decision to not have children, so that I don’t have to.
Working with kids has slowly started to shape my mind though. In fact over time I’ve slowly started to think about kidnapping a Korean child. Mostly because some of my kids are so incredibly cute. I don’t understand why, but Korean children are about a hundred times cuter than white, English children. Ok, that’s a lie, I do understand why. Firstly, Korean children make the most adorable noise when they see something amazing. A kind of “OHHHHHHH!” sound.
Isn’t that the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Next, Korean children just plain look cute! Maybe because appearance is so important in Korea, so all the mothers ensure their kids look as cute as possible – meaning they stand no chance against their shoddily dressed British counterparts.
Since I work in an English kindergarten, the children can’t speak in full English, they’re just learning, so their communication in English is made of cute, half sentences. There’s nothing more heart-warming than hearing a Korean child say “I lav you Daniel Teacher.” Sure, the majority of the time I force them to say it and they probably don’t know what it means, but SO WHAT! I LAV YOU TOO!
Of course not all children are born cute, some have cuteness thrust upon them. My hagwon uses any opportunity they can to dress up the kids in embarrassing costumes to perform like trained animals.
Every special event has a special costume, whether it be dressing up as a mini Christmas tree for our Christmas Party.
Dressing up as a prince and princess for a birthday.
Graduating from kindergarten. (Yes, they graduate with a ceremony and everything!)
Or dressing up in hanbok for Korean holidays.
Every occasion is a chance for us to create moments that will one day be used to embarrass these children when they are adults. Many of these children will no doubt look back on these pictures and cringe. Some may even attempt to destroy any evidence of their sad past. A lot will feel so demented that the only relief they’ll get will come from forcing their own children into similar sadistic situations.
Have I gone mad. Am I one of those people that I hate (or should I say “hated”?) But who can argue, who can say otherwise? Korean children are just so damn cute! Right? RIGHT!?