Sunday, August 06, 2006


Come here. I'm going to show you something. [They walk to a plant with a cocoon on it]. What do you supposed is in that cocoon, Charlie?

I don't know, a butterfly, I guess?

No, it's much more beautiful than that. That's a moth cocoon. It's ironic, butterflies get all the attention; but moths -- they spin silk, they're stronger, they're faster.

That's wonderful, but...

You see this little hole? This moth's just about to emerge. It's in there right now, struggling. It's digging it's way through the thick hide of the cocoon. Now, I could help it, take my knife, gently widen the opening, and the moth would be free. But it would be too weak to survive. The struggle is nature's way of strengthening it. Now this is the second time you've asked me for your drugs back [he holds the heroin up]. Ask me again and it's yours.

(from Lost season 1, episode 7, "The Moth")

Having spent the better part of an hour driving around while trying to locating the apartment of a young woman, with the intent of dropping her off at home after a party, I got to thinking on the drive home as to what parents today are doing to their children.

While I'll admit to a significant portion of blame, it's frustrating when I'm in an area with which I'm unfamiliar, when someone I'm driving around is unable to give directions to her apartment because she is even less familiar with the area, and even worse, does not know how to read a map, and is thus unable to navigate.

After dropping her off, my drive home was fairly uneventful, but between tracks on my MP3 player, I'm realizing that the lack of necessary life skills at a certain age bracket is the likely end result of overprotective upbringing. I'll admit to having a very sheltered life at a younger age, of which I'm trying to compensate for it now (although some would say overcompensate). As much as I love my mom to death, there are a lot of things that I wish that I could have figured out on my own at a much earlier age.

Not being a parent myself, I cannot speak from experience. I do not envy the responsibilities that come with the task, because they're really daunting and parents will constantly be judged for the end results. I understand the rationale behind sheltered parenting - parents want their children to have the opportunities they didn't have when they were kids, so they do everything for them. However, when the time comes for the children to act on their own, they will be so weakened from the experience that they won't be able to fend for themselves. While parents may think they're doing their kids a favour, by doing so, they lack the confidence building and independence that comes with figuring things on their own.

There is the extreme opposite though...children with minimal guidance are subjected to negative influences and grow up to be scarred and damaged from the experience. While may do have the maturity (and possible self-sufficiency) of the coddled child, without moral guidance, these are the kind of kids that grow up into a troubled life. Usually one that involves drugs.

When growing up, there were a lot of things I was unable to do before my formative years. My parents essentially forbade me from doing a lot of things, which largely kept me on the straight and narrow, but really kept me from experiencing a lot of things that kids are supposed to experience on their own. So, as a result, I'm making my mistakes NOW.

A sheltered upbringing has left me without specific life skills that are probably holding me back. For example, I lack the ability to read people, I get in trouble from impulsive decisions, and because I was fairly sedentary when I was a lad (parents didn't want me getting hurt too much), I lack a certain sense of body awareness, which means I'm really prone to getting injured from pushing myself too hard. Additionally mistakes, have a lot more consequences when I'm older, mostly because I'm expected to know better, but also because children can get away with a lot more than adults can.

For example, just the other week, I saw a guy on the Skytrain who had tons of grass stuck in his hair. In usual helpful-Vince fashion, I gently point this out, because, hey, if I had crap stuck to me and I couldn't see it, I'd want someone to tell me. At this point he starts getting hostile and starts swearing at me, and I'm not sure if he's going to try to kick my ass next. Not often getting into situations like this, my first reaction is often to freeze.
Had he been a lot crazier, I probably could have been seriously hurt, or panicked and used excessive force to defend myself (I'm banking on the former rather than the latter, though). It's only afterwards that I realize that he recently got into a fight (and I'm not going to even speculate on who started it), resulting in his messed up appearance. Had I been a lot more aware of these things when growing up, I probably would've avoided the situation altogether.

Bringing me back to my drive. After driving around for 15 minutes in the wrong direction and trying to assure my passenger that I'm not angry at her, merely frustrated that someone at her age is unable to provide sufficient directions, I tell her straight up, this is a skill that she will have to learn at some point. Preferably really, really soon. She's been in the country for three years, does not know how to read a map, and cannot provide directions to her apartment, even after we pass by a landmark that she recognizes about three times.

(To my one-time passenger: if you do end up reading this blog, I'm not trying to be mean. I can't really blame you for this stuff because you simply never had to do it before so it's not like you'd know any better. However, when I see you, I realize that there are a lot of things that you have to figure out on your own...this is one of them...and it's not even the most important one! Good luck.)

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