Monday, September 21, 2009

I'm on a diet

I used to eat a lot of shit. Emotionally speaking. Parents, teachers, adults of all kinds, and society as a whole seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time force-feeding me shit. They did/do it to all kids, of course, not just me. Being a basic mushroom-type kid, naturally I chewed, swallowed, and digested like an obedient little Stepford drone.

As I got older and started to utilize my own reasoning ability a bit, I thought that perhaps shit might possibly fall into that category of Things I Do Not Really Like. It seemed to me that shit was perhaps less delicious than okra and I wasn't very fond of okra. But far be it from me to rock the boat and push back against the entire weight of Adult Society. So I kept eating the shit I was offered like a gold-level member of the Clean Plate Club.

I eventually got to the point where I decided that I definitely did not like shit. In fact, I ultimately came to the conclusion that I actively disliked shit very much and I resolved to get myself onto a shit-free diet. This was not as easy as it sounds.

Someone's always lurking around the Traditional Parenting Kitchen, putting together a delicious-looking, deceptive farce of a shit sandwich, and trying to slip it onto my plate and my palate. You know what I'm talking about! Rich, thick, hearty slices of the bread of an unschooling life. Veggies from your personal unschooling Garden of Earthly Delights. (Not Bosch's!) A hint of delicious spiciness from the Creole mustard of intellectual curiosity. Mmmmmnnn, that looks fabulous!

But at the core, camouflaged inside all that unschooling-seeming goodness, is a great big steaming cow patty of control and coercion.

I'm here to tell you that nowadays I choose to be on a shit-free diet. I admit I'm still not always successful. Sometimes somebody sneaks one in on me and, operating on autopilot from old tapes, I chew and swallow like a compliant little prole. Unlike my younger self, who obediently swallowed the shit uncomplainingly and digested it unthinkingly, I'm usually reasonably adept nowadays at realizing what I've just swallowed and I spit it back up.

And I do my damnedest to avoid feeding my kids shit of any kind, even shit sandwiches. Maybe especially shit sandwiches. They have more sensitive and accurate shit-detectors than I ever did or ever will and they're a lot better at pre-rejecting proffered portions of pusillanimous putrescence. I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Shit sandwiches are in my thoughts right now because there is just such a concoction being offered for consumption on the run.ning site. Couched in the camouflaging verbiage of unschooling, Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless is recommending timeouts like he uses with his son, with the defense: He can get out of timeout anytime he wants; all he has to do is take three deep breaths.

This, O Gentle Reader, is a classic shit sandwich prepared by a master chef.

You can surround the shitburger with all the leafy verbiage of unschooling you're able to create with your fertile pen. The bread of mutual respect. The lettuce of acceptance. The tomato of understanding. The sprouts of equitable public intercourse. Whatever. Try as you will to disguise it, hiding there at the core is that vile shitburger of control, coercion, and conditioning.

My advice, in case you haven't already guessed it: Try a shit-free diet. I think you'll like it. I think your kids will like it, too.

It's a healthier way to live.


  1. I have to admit that I took a few bites of said sandwich and fed some to my kids yesterday when the grandparents came for a visit. I get tripped up on the same old stuff. Thanks for the kick.

    "pusillanimous putrescence" it.

  2. Stunning writing Frank!
    Buon appetito!

  3. beautiful...I recently got booted out of a restaurant that only served "shit sandwiches", because I was quite vocal about them needing some 'real food'. In the end it was for the best, because I never got good service there and no-one believed in our "shit-free diet".

    I'm riding the flow of the gooey grilled cheese (with tomatoes) Unschooling sandwich with you...(except my cheese is vegan)

  4. Thanks for this, Frank - love the honesty and humor, while my 5yo dd listens to platitudized fairy tales 9her choice) and balances one-legged on her rocking sheep (also her choice).

    I haven't seen the discussion in question yet, and not sure I want to...might get an icky shit-smell on my fingers just from clicking.....LMAO!

    I didn't know you had a blog...I will be following you! =)

  5. Hi, Shannon,

    The ning thread is the one about "boundaries" and it's James Bach once again trying to sell punishment as not-punishment.

    My shit-detector seems to go off whenever he says something.

  6. Very cool and a good reminder to watch in my own life. It's hard and I find myself backsliding a lot only to have to go and say to the kids that Mommy is trying really hard to change, sorry. They seem to understand and I know from my own childhood that some acknowledgment from my father of any fault on his side (never happened) would have been really welcome. Cheers, Kristin

  7. Thanks for the laughs, and the information. I never belonged to the "clean plate club" that my parents enticed me with at dinnertime, but I sure did lick the plate clean for the rest of the shit served to me. The mushroom descriptor is a new one to me, one that I find amazingly accurate. ;P As a good friend of mine used to say, "You're a real hoot!"

  8. I love you Frank! I am glad your beautiful and smart wife is my secret girlfriend!

  9. Previous comment was from Kristin but I loved it too, Frank. Too many sandwiches served daily in this country.

  10. rock on brother!

    ...and traditional educational outlets are, to use Patton Oswalt description of the "KFC bowl", a 'fucking failure pile in a sadness bowl'.

  11. I really had trouble getting past the part where you said veggies look fabulous.

  12. That post was in July, though, Frank. Read the expiration dates on that shit! I don't think the guy has posted for five or six weeks. It's too bad, if it means he's also not reading. But I suspect he never was really reading.

  13. Hi, Step, how ya doin'? Remember this is a parable, sort of. I can take artistic license. And there are some veggies I eat. Some. There are even a couple I like. Really. Stop laughing! It's rude.

    Sandra, I just noticed that post a few days ago because of the most recent response to it. I see that you have now addressed the topic there as well. Glad to see that. Reading that post motivated something inside me to do a response post here, now, so I did. That's all this blog ever is, just intellectual gas bubbles, sometimes little, sometimes big, being released from the fecund depths of the swamp which abides entenally beneath and behind the socially-acceptable construct of my superego. Or is that my ego? Freud is so outdated that I begin to confuse those concepts.

  14. I was joking about the expiration date. People do recycle the same old shit for decades and centuries and millenia, and the bad thing, sometimes, about someone leaving a forum or list is that they take their poop snacks somewhere else where people won't challenge them.

    Bigger duck in a dumber puddle; more scum in the bottom.

  15. Um dude....this was BRILLIant! In the most amazing way. Reminds me to watch my own shit. Or to rid myself of it...yeah, regularly. ;)

  16. Have been checked out of blog-land for a while...thanks for the enlightening and delightful re-introduction!

  17. Shit, YEAH!

    ... I mean NO.

    What a great metaphor. Gosh, I don't think I'll forget it. Very apt to the truth you're getting at.

    Thanks for writing it.