I was in Starbucks with a female friend.  We were both reading the LA Times.  I saw this article that for some reason amused me.  I showed it to my friend.

A show promoter labeled a "Grinch" by prosecutors for selling tickets to thousands of children for a nonexistent Christmas pageant was sentenced Wednesday to more than seven years in prison.

The judge told David Lee Ellisor that his actions were "reprehensible."

Ellisor, 52, was convicted in February of eight counts of mail fraud for a December 2003 scam in which he sold $10 tickets to more than 2,700 Miami-Dade County schoolchildren and parents for a "Christmas Around the World" show. He claimed that it would be attended by ambassadors from 28 countries and feature live reindeer.

Hundreds of children were left crying outside the Coconut Grove Convention Center when they learned that there would be no show.

Trial evidence indicated that Ellisor emptied the show’s bank account to buy a luxury car the day the show was to begin.

My friend tossed the paper aside.

"That’s terrible."

"Terrible?"  I asked.  "They shouldn’t even convict this guy.  I think they should give him a medal for educating our youth about what real life is going to be like."

She did not find this amusing.  Oh, one detail I forgot.  She was there with her baby.  This woman used to be very funny.  Now she is always very serious.  She wakes up every morning and puts on a CD of Mozart, so the baby will grow up cultured.

I don’t know if it was this experience, or hearing about all you teachers out there getting a new year of school underway, but I’ve been thinking about kids today.   And I’m not sure you’re going to like what I say.

As someone who doesn’t have any children, I think it gives me a unique opportunity to tell the truth:  they are incredibly cute, but also pretty obnoxious — particularly from ages 3-12.  I mean, kids are great, but when did children become the center of our existence?   Do we really need to play Mozart to our babies from birth?  Do parents really need to devote all their energy for the next 18 years — just to make sure the child gets into Harvard?

In the past, it used to be that kids were seen but not heard.  I was an only child.  As a stereotypical only child, I was independent and spoiled — but I always knew my place in the hierarchy of the household.  My parents ruled.  Now, kids rule the household.  They tell their parents what to buy.  There are even special marketing companies pushing kids to get their parents to buy them products like Fruit Loops and video games. 

I think our culture took a nosedive during the "We are the World" era.  All those stupid songs like "The children are our future."   Whose future?  Theirs… not mine.  Let’s clean up the environment so I don’t have to breathe the fumes, not for some nebulous future of the "children." Do I always have to bend over backwards for "the children?"  The "children" have ruined TV.  Most TV sucks because — god forbid — some child might see something like Janet Jackson’s boob.    Maybe I want to see Janet Jackson’s boob.  Now, I’m never going to get a chance again because it might ruin the innocence of some bratty American child. 

We somehow visualize children as pure and innocent.  This doesn’t make any sense.  We were all once children ourselves. Did we block out everything from our past?  Don’t we remember ourselves as children?   Pure and innocent?  C’mon!

We were snot-dripping assholes! 

Why are our children going to be any different?

I was about a good a kid as could be.  I never cried or yelled in public.  Why do kids scream so much in movie theaters and malls?  Where are the parents?

A few months ago, writer Ayelet Waldman, wife of Pulitzer Prize winning writer Michael Chabon, wrote a controversial article in The New York Times where she said, "I love my husband more than I love my children." 

I do love [my daughter]. But I’m not in love with her. Nor with her two brothers or sister. Yes, I have four children. Four children with whom I spend a good part of every day: bathing them, combing their hair, sitting with them while they do their homework, holding them while they weep their tragic tears. But I’m not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband.

It is his face that inspires in me paroxysms of infatuated devotion. If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.

What’s wrong with that?  Of course she loves her four children.  She just doesn’t make them the center of her universe.  Because of what she said, she got tons of hate mail.  When she appeared on Oprah, many in the audience attacked her, accusing her of being a lousy mother and person.

Why shouldn’t the wife or husband come before the children?  Isn’t that the person you married?

This "children first" attitude is not entirely new.  When the boat is sinking, it’s always "women and children" first.  But I understand that’s more of a male chivalry thing.  Today, we go too far in idolizing the young.  What really annoys me is when a hundred people die in a fire — including one child — and all the news media wants to talk about is this one child who died, as if his young age makes him more special to the world.  How do we know that if this kid survived the fire, he wasn’t going to grow up to be a dunce?  How do we know that the middle-aged guy who also died wasn’t about to discover the cure for cancer?

Do all you mothers and teachers hate me yet?