4 Things Kids Never Learn (Because Parents Teach Them Badly)

Remember how awesome it was to be a kid, especially in contrast to being an adult? Adults have taxes, boner shame, and social awareness. When you were a kid, you had Thundercats, marshmallows in your cereal, and two months of jack shit every single summer. Being a child is like being a millionaire, but without the stress. Or, you know, the financial upside. So good. I can see why Zach Galifianakis does the man-child schtick so much. I wish I could live that life, too.

As adults, we get wistful for the good old days, and think, "If we only knew then what we know now." Of course, when we think that, we mean that we wish we were 19 again and fully able to use our advanced knowledge to score more cash and ass. None of us want to be 10 again -- that was some straight bullshit. Sure, you may have had a wicked Sega Master System and discovered how awesome Wonka Nerds were, but that wasn't all there was to it when you were a kid, and you know it.

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"One day I'm going to own a Nintendo and eat Twizzlers. One day."

In all the wondrous fantasy and nostalgia of childhood, a bizarre and curious thread of insane irony was shat down upon our tiny heads by our parents and other authority figures. It's the melding of rules and chaos, the implementation of order from the hands of utterly disorganized buttfuckery of the mind. It's adults, in a panic, snapping out commands and edicts because they're taller and have more pubes and therefore assume that right, despite having no training or skill set that really puts them in a position to come by their parental authority honestly. And it makes no sense to you as a child, because it makes no sense period, but you're not allowed to question it. And the worst thing is that nearly every parent does it.

#4. Teach Kids to Swim by Tossing Them In the Lake

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This idea is as old as the hills and drowned children. Time comes you need to learn how to swim, and Pa just doesn't have the patience to stand in the shallow end while you don water wings and try your best breast stroke. So instead you get in the boat, head out to the middle of Lake Weepaneglectakid, and get tossed like an Oreo-encrusted anchor into the balmy 38-degree water.

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"Daddy, why is it called Piranha Lake?"
"Oh ... no reason."

The logic behind this method of teaching is sound, in the way that it's sound logic to shoot your front door before opening it just in case someone who deserves it is on the other side. Maybe you'll achieve your goal, but maybe you're just going to murder a child. You won't really know until it either happens or doesn't.

It was my uncle who thought this would be an awesome method for teaching me how to swim -- when I was seven, and already fully aware of how to swim. When he simply hurled me from a boat into Lake Champlain and told me to swim back to shore if I wanted to have dinner that night, it really just taught me to never go boating with my uncle, more than anything. But say I didn't know how to swim. Or maybe say I was a particularly panicky seven-year-old who, when thrown into a lake by a trusted relative moments before that relative leaves in a boat when you're a solid 30-minute swim from shore, was apt to have a panic attack. Then this could have been bad. Basically, my options really were to drown or not. And thanks to six weeks at the community pool with instructions from a 15-year-old girl who I thought I was in love with, I was able to save my own life and set the foundations for a hatred of my uncle that has lasted my whole life.

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"Must ... reach ... shore. Must ... get ... revenge."

This idea is so a part of our society that the saying "sink or swim" can be traced all the way back to Geoffrey Chaucer, whom you may recall helped the Joker win the Nike tournament in that one movie way back when. Of course, back then the saying may have had something to do with the drowning of witches, but it shows where our heads are at and have been at as a species for generations when it comes to swimming. You either learn that shit or crabs will eat you. Ain't nobody got time for anything else.

Why are we so impatient when it comes to swimming? How many dads would hurl their kids on a bicycle towards the highway to get them to learn to ride? I'll guess none, except for maybe one or two in Florida.

#3. Force Smokers to Smoke a Whole Carton

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This is a sitcom classic and anecdotally may have actually happened hundreds of times in real life to friends of friends, or maybe happened to no one at all, except for someone once on Roseanne. The idea is rooted in terrible psychology: "If you've done something bad, I'll make you overdo it until you hate it." Note that this will not work for sex or compulsive masturbating.

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Or Pokemon.

It sounds reasonable on the one hand that making your kid smoke a carton will sicken them to the point of never wanting to smoke again. But realistically, when has overindulging in anything made you not want to do it? You have no idea how many times I've sworn off drinking after waking up next to a toilet, a shrub, a stranger, or crime scene tape. But I go back again when that sweet, sweet rum assures me it'll take me to party town in a tub full of margarita.

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"You can always count on me, Felix! I'm there for you when no one else is!"

No one has ever done anything bad to the point of wanting to stop, not really. It's a secondary matter that causes you to hit rock bottom. You gamble your money away and that's fine -- it's the homelessness and raging family who want you dead that make you regret it, not just being broke. You drink yourself into oblivion and that's OK -- it's when you see video of yourself humping a trash heap that you start to feel bad in the soul. Likewise, no smoker ever thought, "Shit, I just smoked too much," even if they threw up from it -- it's the cancer down the road that gets them. Which, ironically, is what you're setting your kid up for if you force them to take in such an addictive megadose of nicotine in one sitting.

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Felix Clay

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